Office Yoga is a survival handbook for the deskbound; a practical manual of simple movements which you can do a few minutes at a time throughout the day, to relieve the tension and stress of sedentary working life. It give clear instructions and illustrations for sixty stretching and breathing exercises - simple, safe, and fun to do - most of which can be done sitting in your chair at your desk.
Doing Office Yoga will make you feel better. It will relieve and help prevent headache, neck-ache, backache, and eye-ache. It will improve your posture and breathing, replenish your vitality, boost your energy levels and improve your concentration.
Office Yoga also offers guidance on improving your personal working environment: chair, desk and lighting; and suggest how to make use of the time you spend travelling to and from work.
It you work at a desk, computer terminal or drawing board, in an office or at home, Office Yoga will be of sound practical help to you.
Julie Friedeberger has practised yoga for twenty years. She holds the British Wheel of Yoga Teachers' Diploma and the teaching certificates of the Dharma Yoga Centre and the Body workshop.
Julie Friedeberger is currently at work, in collaboration with her teacher, Swami Dharmananda Saraswati, on a handbook entitled A Manual of Basic Yoga Practices. She lives in London with her husband, the painter Klaus Friedeberger.
Extracts from reviews:
gives clear instruction and illustrations for sixty stretching and breathing exercises which are simple, safe and fun to do.
8th April, 2000
provides sixty stretching and breathing exercises which can prove very useful for improving the physical and mental conditions of those having to undergo the hazards of long-hour desk jobs.
The Statesman Literary Supplement,
12th April, 1999
The book teaches simple Yoga-based movement co-ordinated with breathing that can be performed from a sitting position
Pathway to God,
Vol. 33, No. 1, Oct.-Dec., 1998
The book is profusely and clearly illustrated so that the user is in no doubt at any stage of his practice. Another interesting aspect is the set of instructions given for integrating these exercises with daily activities. The book closes with a reading list for those interested in knowing more about yoga and meditation.
The Vedant Kesari
The book, though small in size is yet highly useful and essentially practical in its directions. The beginners as well the advance practitioners can all derive benefit from its study.
The Vedic Path,
Vol. II, LVI, NO. 2, Dec. 1998
This book is based on yoga a system of physical mental and spiritual development which originated in India at least 3,000 years ago. Its roots lie in Hindu philosophy and its aim is to bring about balance and harmony on every level of one’s being by means of techniques which have been tested and proved over thousands of years not only in India but by practitioners all over the world.
In this book some of the basic practices and underlying principles of Yoga are applied to working life. It is a kind of survival handbook of the desk bound a practical manual of simple yoga based movements which can be done at the desk a few minutes at a time throughout the day to help relieve the tension and stress of working life.
But although it is an essentially practical book I think I hope that it is true to the spirit of yoga.
Office yoga is meant for anyone whose working hours are spent mainly at a desk whether in an office or at home. Students writers draughtspeople and designers anyone whose work requires a great deal of sitting will find it helpful too. It can also be used by anyone who for whatever reason is unable to exercise from a standing position.
You will be able to use this book whether or not you have practiced yoga before. If you are new to yoga I hope you will find it clear, comprehensible and useful. Possibly it will inspire you to go further for yoga is there to help us to fulfill our potential as human beings and the possibilities are vast.
If you have had some yoga experience if you have attended classes and or practiced on your own or are quite adept you are probably already aware of the importance and value of bringing yoga as much as possible into your daily life. I hope you will find in this book some new ways and means of doing this.
It you work in an office you probably experience physical tension from time to time (if not most of the time). It’s also quite likely that you experience mental tension the result of your continual effort to deal with the pressures of work and with the demands that are made upon you.
You have my sumpathies. In my own thirty odd years of doing various jobs behind various desks I have experienced my fair share of office tension and I am fully aware of how draining and debilitating it can be. I know the insidious effect it can have on the quality of your life not only at work but on the rest of it the part outside work. And I also known that it is possible to tackle it to relieve it when it takes hold and even to prevent it taking hold at all.
The ache between the shoulder blades the pain in the neck the stiff lower back the sore eyes the feeling of shattered exhaustion at the end of a long fraught day which a student of mine has described as concussed may be your familiar unwelcome companions as they have been mine. They may have come to seem inevitable to you occupational hazards part of the job.
But they aren’t inevitable. There is a great deal you can do about them as I have learned and as I hope to show you in this book.
No one is exempt. Whatever your job computer programmer receptionist secretary, designer, manager, or company chairman you are vulnerable to the conditions I’ve described and have probably experienced them. Office life is stressful and tension inducing.
There are several reasons for this.
The human body is made fro movement and activity and suffers when deprived of it. Joints maintain their mobility and muscles their elasticity only if they are used. And all the body system respiratory circulatory digestive etc need movement if they are to function efficiently. Movement is natural and necessary but most office jobs seem to require you to sir for long periods in a more or less fixed position.
You sit at a desk which may not be the right height for you and which unless it has a slopping surface is not at the proper angle for comfortable working. You sit in a chair which unless you are very lucky has not been designed for correct comfortable sitting. All this adds up to a sure recipe for neck-ache, back-ache, head-ache, eye-ache and brain-ache.
Office life deprives you of vital oxygen
You need fresh air and a plentiful supply of oxygen as well as exercise, but because you are indoors most of the time you scarcely ever get any — especially if your working environment is air-conditioned. This, combined with the fact that you possibly do not breathe fully and deeply (few people do) means that you do not get a sufficient oxygen supply, and also that you don’t fully expel toxins from your system. This affects your physical health, your mental and emotional balance, your concentration and temper.
Office life is emotionally wearing
You are closely confined for upwards of eight hours a day with other people who are also trying to cope with these conditions. Some may be better off than others. The chairman may have a better chair than the receptionist, and a private office with a window that can be opened. The secretary may have more opportunities to move around the building and get more exercise than the manager. Essentially, though, you are all in the same boat: sitting uncomfortably and for too long at a stretch; more or less deprived of vital oxygen, and consequently often tense and irritable.
You all have to cope with one another as well as with your work and your working conditions, so at times your working environment may feel more like a madhouse or a zoo than a community of rational human beings. In times of stress you may get on one another’s nerves, bite one another’s heads off, snap at and score off one another. Possibly you contribute to the atmosphere yourself — not only by behaving like this, but also by regarding others as responsible for creating the situation and yourself as a victim of it, and by putting the blame on others for how you feel at the end of the day.
Office life can generate anxiety
If for any reason you feel insecure in your job — perhaps because you work in a highly competitive industry, or for an institution vulnerable to government cuts, or because you don’t get on with your boss — the resulting anxiety creates further difficulties for you.
If your company is the scene of office politics and power struggles (from which everyone suffers whether personally involved or not) you may well feel as bruised and battered at the end of the day as though you had spent it in the thick of battle.
You have to get to the office and back
If you work in a big town and live on its outskirts, your working day is sandwiched between struggles with rush-hour traffic or the crowds on public transport, and with inevitable delays in the form of traffic holdups and train cancellations. On a bad day, you may arrive at work infuriated and steaming, or in an exhausted heap, feeling that you’ve already had your fill of hassle. And you may reach home in the evening too tired to do anything but eat your dinner and fail into bed.
All these conditions are difficult enough to cope with even if you find your work fulfilling; even if you are doing what you want to be doing and are satisfied with the way your career is progressing. If you don’t like your work — if you are bored or feel under-valued; if you are frustrated in your ambition or ‘stuck’ in a job you feel you can’t leave; or if you have been over-promoted into a job that is beyond your present abilities — you have additional problems.
Of course, no-one experiences all of these trying conditions all of the time. But we all experience some of them some of the time, and because they are all extra to the work we are doing and the problems we are paid to solve, we don’t even think about them very much. We just put up with them, grit our teeth and battle on, paying the price in all sorts of ways as tension and stress accumulate.
My own work, in publishing, has always required me to sit a great deal, doing jobs involving close, detailed work such as proof-reading. The physical aspect of ‘office tension’ is all too familiar to me: I know what it is to feel sore and knotted at the end of a busy day.
I actually like working in an office. I like the excitements of publishing, and I especially like the companionship and camaraderie a Like-minded people which I’ve been lucky enough to have. For the past six years I have worked in an environment which is probably almost unique: a medium-sized firm in which people value and support one another and in which there is no back-stabbing (or even &ting) — a real fellowship of responsible adults working together in reasonable harmony most of the time. Yet even here, I have experienced my share of stress: deadlines to be met, conflicting priorities sheer pressure of work most of the time, and so on. All this as well as the physical tension, has had to be coped with.
What has helped me to cope is that I have practiced yoga for twenty years. During that time I have tried to apply my knowledge of yoga not only of the movement and postures but also of yoga’s underlying principles to my life as a whole. Yoga has changed my life for the better in every way and has in fact become its guiding force. In my working life it has been a special kind of help in easing tension and dealing with stress.
When I began to teach yoga at a centre in central London. I found that the students who came to my first lunchtime and early morning classes were in situations similar to mine. They worked in offices and they all secretaries administrators departments heads directors felt that they were under pressure and wanted to do something about it. This was for most the main motivation for coming to yoga they wanted to learn to relax and to cope better with the tension and stress they were experiencing. I knew that yoga could help them but it seemed to me that I ought to be able to bring my own working experience to bear in my teaching to give them specific help with the tensions and stresses that seem to arise so particularly out of working in an office.
I devised a series of workshops in which I introduced the students to simple yoga based movements coordinated with breathing that can be performed from a sitting position without leaving one’s desk. I called them office yoga and they were useful the students enjoyed them and reported that they were able to use that they had learned at work.
An accompanying handout reminding them of the exercise and how to practice them was the germ of this book. I began to think that such a book was needed and would be welcomed and would be helpful. So I have written it. In it I would like to share what I know about handling the stress of office life and to pass on what my practice of yoga has taught me in the hope that the practical advice and the insights I am able to offer will help you too to cope more effectively with the pressures you are under so that the eight or more hours you spend at work each day can be happier better hours so that your working life can be more comfortable more enjoyable and less wearing and so that you feel the benefit in your whole life.
You will be able to help yourself more than you might think possible. For example there are simple changes you can make on a purely practical level to improve the quality of your working life.
The first chapter tells you how to assess your working environment and your equipment your chair your desk, your lighting etc and how to improve it. Some of the simplest adjustments like changing the position of a lamp or that height of a chair can make an appreciable difference to your comfort and well being. This chapter also explains how to sit. Even if you think you know how to sit please don’t skip this part it is important. Sitting well will make the biggest overall difference to your well being because how you sit affects not only the relationship of all the parts of your body but even more importantly your breathing.
The correct sitting position is the starting point for all the exercises in Chapters 2, 3 and 4. These exercises can all be done sitting in your chair at your desk to relieve tension aches and pains replenish your vitality and make you feel generally better throughout the day.
If you feel hesitant about calling attention to yourself at first you will find that you can do quite a few of the exercises in these chapters unobtrusively without anyone else being aware that your are doing them. Start with these and move on to the others as you gain confidence. If it causes a little hilarity there’s nothing wrong with that and you will probably find your colleagues joining you before long! You might like to try the exercises at home first so that you’ll know which ones you will feel happy about starting with at work and so you’ll know how to do them.
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