My office situation is a bit strange due to my bizarre work arrangement and I usually avoid interacting with people as much as I can, however, one of the perks I do really enjoy is the yoga classes they offer. A local yoga company in Vancouver got smart and started offering lunch-time yoga classes at office buildings in the city. They are very reasonably priced and you can’t beat the convenience of just going down one floor to fit a weekly hour of yoga into an otherwise drab office existence.
I’ve done yoga on and off for several years and am coming out of a rather long ‘off’ stretch. I decided to start again in search of relief for my nearly constant headaches, which most recently I’m blaming on tension in my neck and shoulders.
I’ve had these chronic headaches since I was 10 years old, with a few years break here and there. They vary in intensity from slightly annoying to I-want-to-drill-my-brain-out-and-throw-it-against-a-wall and usually arrive in several week or sometimes several month-long stretches.
For many years I blamed my sinuses but after the evidence was finally collected, it appears they were wrongly accused. Well at least I helped some poor starving pharmaceutical companies sell their sinus medications for a few years. With that suspect eliminated, the best the doctors can tell me is that it’s probably migraines, perhaps being tweaked by my chronically tense shoulders and neck.
The last few months I’ve been getting massage therapy and going to yoga and so far so good; my headaches have been few and far between. I’m very aware that this might be a coincidence and the headaches might come back full force any time – but I’m enjoying the treatment so I’m sticking with it.
Headaches or not, an hour of stretching in the middle of the workday is the most brilliant idea. I try to sit properly – at the beginning of the day I push my shoulders back and align my neck all proper-like with the screen – but it only takes one annoying email or one problematic error in my code to turn me into a pretzel. I might be hunched over with my leg curled underneath me or my personal favourite, my legs stretched out in front of me as far as they’ll go, taking my whole body with them until I’m practically under my desk entirely.
It’s not pretty.
On Mondays when I go to yoga, I can feel all my muscles waking up and breathing a giant sigh of relief when I stretch them out. I always feel half a foot taller when I walk out and am more motivated and clear-headed for the rest of the day.
I seriously think it needs to be standard practice to build in physical activity into the office environment.
Recently a friend who works in health promotion was telling me how detrimental sitting for long periods is to our health, regardless of how much physical activity we do otherwise. I guess we really are asking a lot of our bodies to adjust to the pace of a sloth within the span of a couple of generations. Apparently in their office they often have ‘walking meetings’: for small groups (say two or three people), you walk as you talk. Makes perfect sense. I think there are many solutions like this in easy reach – if only we could just lift our asses off our comfy chairs long enough to grab them.
Though according to Wikipedia, apparently sloths only need to ‘go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week,’ which I gotta admit sounds kinda convenient. I wish evolution worked faster.