Yoga for Writers #6
* HEALTH FOR WRITERS series
By JEANAN GLAZIER
Where do you want to be? Your legs get you there. Standing, sitting, strolling, walking, or running, the muscles in your legs propel you. If you think about how much work your legs do every day, then it isn’t surprising they are sometimes tired, and all you want to do is sit down and put your feet up. Nor is it surprising for your legs to feel tired or stiff when you’ve been sitting for long periods of time. However, you can do something about the fatigue and stiffness.
Push your chair away from your desk. Sit up as straight as you can. The next step is to place your heels on the floor, and then slowly walk them out until your legs are as long and straight as possible.
Wiggle forward in your chair until you are sitting on the edge. Place your palms on the tops of your thighs. Another alternative is to lightly grip the edge of your chair on either side of your hips. Then walk your heels out.
If your office chair rolls, then push the back of your chair against something solid and heavy like your desk or a wall. Place your palms on your thighs or grip your seat. Wiggle forward until you are sitting on the edge. Walk your heels out.
You want your legs as straight as possible. However, your flexibility and the structure of your chair will impact how far you can walk your heels out and how straight you can make your legs.
If you need to bend your knees, then do so. It is your effort that counts, not how straight your legs are.
Think of your body in two parts. The top part is from the crown of your head to your hipbones. The bottom part is from your hipbones to your toes.
Inhale. As you exhale, bend the top part forward. Aim your nose toward your knees. Pin your eyes on your toes. Keep your back as straight as you can, but don’t freak about it. Make your best effort. If your spine curves, it’s okay. The stretch is still beneficial.
How far your top part leans over your bottom part depends on your flexibility and on the structure of your chair.
The muscles in the back of your legs will lengthen and stretch. You will feel it. Lean forward until you find the point between a good-feeling stretch and a bad-feeling stretch. Stay where the stretch feels good. Hover over your legs. Inhale and exhale as smoothly as you can. Notice your face and shoulders. Are they tense? Consciously relax your face. Consciously relax your shoulders.
You can experiment if you want. On your exhalations, see if you can lower the top part of your body a teeny-tiny bit beyond the good-feeling stretch point. One of two things will happen. Either you’ll be able to lower more deeply into the stretch, which means your point between the good-feeling stretch and the bad-feeling stretch will have moved, or your leg muscles will say, “Nope. Not happening this time. Try again later.”
Remember: It is the effort that counts, not the result.
One breath equals an inhalation plus an exhalation. Try to stay in this pose for five breaths, whether or not you are experimenting with the point between the good-feeling stretch and the bad-feeling stretch. If looking at your toes bothers your neck, then slowly tuck your chin down, and gaze at your knees.
Maybe you’ll remain in this pose for three breaths. Maybe you’ll remain for ten. Breathe. Do your best to keep both your back and your legs as straight as you can. Relax.
Remember: How long you stay in the pose isn’t as important as your effort.
When you are ready to come out of the pose, exhale first. As you inhale, slowly lift the top part of your body. Take your time. When you are back to your starting position, notice how you feel.
Physically, your leg muscles will be stretched, and this will enable them to perform more efficiently. Mentally, do you feel calmer? This pose often generates a sense of serenity. Many people experience this added bonus, and a “chicken or the egg” question arises. Are people doing this pose for the leg stretch or for the calmness? Regardless, you can get stretch and serenity in the same pose. What could be better?
DISCLAIMER: These exercises are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician before attempting these or any other exercise program. Romance Divas and Jeanan Glazier disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercises herein.
JEANAN GLAZIER attended her first yoga class when she was fifteen. (This was 1974 for anyone who is counting!) As a student of jazz dance and the only teenager in a class of women aged 30-45, Jeanan began observing how yoga poses fit different bodies and individual levels of ability. Jeanan received teacher certification in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in 2001. She has taught classes and provided private yoga instruction in Ohio and Florida. Jeanan has enjoyed many fitness activities from running and rock climbing to her current challenge: aqua aerobics. However, yoga continues to be her one constant activity.
As a writer of contemporary and young adult fiction, Jeanan not only knows where the body feels the hours spent in front of a computer or hunched over a desk, but also the yoga poses which can bring relief to the stiffness and soreness. Jeanan believes wholeheartedly that a more flexible body creates a more flexible mind. Yoga can give the imagination a tweak, maybe even a tune-up. What writer wouldn’t appreciate this benefit?!