Here are a few quick and easy yoga-inspired exercises for your eyes, neck and shoulders. They are perfect if you spend long hours in front of the computer, or carry out any concentrated activity like reading or sewing. These exercises take less than 10 minutes, and you can even split them up over the day.
You can do these exercises at your desk. Before you begin, mentally take a break from work, spin your chair around and turn your computer screen off. If you can, get the whole office involved—it’s the best way to stop your colleagues from distracting you and you will not feel self-conscious!
Before you start [and you can do this regularly during the day] simply roll your shoulders forwards a few times and then back in the other direction. Then sit up straight so that your spine is nice and long—without losing the natural arches in your back [you don’t need to look like an army officer]. Turn your head to face slowly to one side and then the other. Be aware of where you feel any tightness and be mindful not to overstretch. It’s normal to have more stiffness on one side of the body than the other. This can be especially noticeable if you do a lot of work using the mouse.
Gomukhasana [Cow face arms, clock watching]
Bring your arms out to the side, parallel with the floor and then rotate your right arm—so that your palm faces behind you and your thumb is pointing to the floor. Bring that arm around your back and place the back of the palm onto your spine as high-up as is comfortable. It might not be very high up—don’t worry!
Then, bring your left arm up pointing to the sky and bend it at the elbow so that your left hand comes to meet your right hand. If your hands reach, clasp your hands. If not, you can hold on to your clothes or make use of a yoga strap or a scarf. This can really help to release tension in the shoulders and the front of the chest.
While your arms are in this position focus on a spot ahead of you and then imagine you are looking at a big clock. Without moving your head, look up to 12 o’clock and then down to six o’clock—repeat this about 10 times.
Palming the eyes
Bring your hands together and rub your palms against one another until they feel warm. Loosely cup your hands and place them lightly over your closed eyes. I recommend you do this palming exercise several times a day every day. Even if this is the only exercise you do you will really feel the benefits of letting the eyes completely relax. It is important for you to do this a few times in between the other exercises. This technique is ideal to relax your eyes whenever you are doing work that needs you to focus closely on objects.
After you’ve relaxed your eyes, repeat exercise one [Gomukhasana] but this time rotate your left arm and raise your right arm over your head to meet it. With your arms in this position, look at the clock again. This time look right over to three o’clock and then all the way to your left to nine o’clock. Repeat this movement 10 times and then hold your warm palms over your eyes again.
Remember it’s perfectly normal if one side feels differently than the other.
Garudasana [Eagle arms, clock watching]
To do this exercise, hold your arms out to each side and cross your right arm over your left and bend your elbows. If you can, wrap your forearms and bring your palms together. If not, just leave your arms crossed. Keep your shoulders low and the elbows lifted. Then repeat the eye exercise, this time look up and right to two o’clock on your imaginary clock and then down and left to eight o’clock. Do this 10 times [if you get confused, you can perform the movement by imagining that you are looking at the diagonally opposite corners of a square].
After you finish the 10 repetitions, rub the palms of your hands together and hold them over your eyes again. Now change the position by having your left arm come over your right and move your eyes from 10 o’clock to four o’clock [left upper corner to right bottom corner].
Change your focus
When you are working at a computer or tablet or doing any concentrated work like reading, drawing and sewing, you have your focus fixed in one position for a long time. Perhaps you might even squint or frown as you try to read the text or work on the fine details.
This exercise can help moisten the eyes and relax the muscles in the eyes and face. This is especially good for those who tend to spend a little too much time on their phones! Remember to blink a lot too. Some say that doing this regularly can improve your eyesight, but even if it doesn’t, at the very least it will help your eyes to get rid of the tiredness!
This exercise is simple! Hold your index finger up in front of you and focus on it for a few seconds. Then look away and focus on a point further away from you for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times. Follow this movement by holding your warm palms over your eyes.
This is a really nice way for you to stretch your neck and upper shoulders. Sit up tall and clasp your hands behind your back, palms together and your fingers interlaced. Bend your elbows and bring your hands towards the left side of your waist. Then gently tilt your head to the left. There should be no strain while you are doing this, just a gentle release. Hold this for a few seconds and now do this on the right side. Repeat this 10 times, alternating between each side.
So there you go—five easy and quick exercises to combat computer tension and keep your eyes, neck and shoulders healthy. And these can all be performed from the comfort of your work desk!
This was first published in the April 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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