pilates inspired practice.
Let’s face it – a large part of our day tends to include staring at a screen. Though there is momentum behind the standing desk phenomenon which I wholeheartedly support, in general I am an advocate for simply choosing to move more throughout the day. Not just an hour at the gym, a 30 minute swim or your weekly Pilates class (which I know you keep up with!) but finding ways to incorporate more movement into your life to boost our physical and mental health.
In terms of how to begin making this shift, my biggest tip is to set a timer.
If I know I have a lot of work to do on the computer, before I start, I set a timer for 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off, I stop (important!) and either get up and do some movement, meditate, go for a quick walk, go up and down the stairs in my apartment building or some combination of all of the above. NEVER have I regretted this choice. I am always more refreshed, focused, and creative afterwards. Before I work again, I set a timeragain for 30 minutes and repeat.
So without further ado, here are my top three go-to computer breaks:
Some guidelines: Begin standing with the feet hip width apart or a little bit wider if that feels more comfortable for you. Begin to let the body shake. Start with a gentle shake while feeling your feet on thefloor and all the joints loose, especially the jaw. Let the breath flow freely. I like to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, often sighing as I exhale. You may find that you want to shake more vigorously or softly. Trust those impulses and follow them. Or you may find that you want to shake one or both wrists or arms, etc. There shouldn’t be any localized pain sensation as you are shaking. You may notice tensions or your muscles feeling tired over a broader area in the body.
For the most benefit, try to shake for 10 minutes.
Why shake? It’s a great way to release physical tension, stress and stagnant energy. It increases circulation and creates heat in the body. I like to think of it as a reset button for the body. There is also literature about the healing benefits of shaking. If you find that you enjoy it and are curious to find out more about this angle, check out Peter Levine’s book Healing Trauma.
2. Arm Swings!
Some guidelines: Begin standing with the feet a little bit wider than hip-width apart. Bend the knees ever so slightly. Start to let the arms swing from side to side. As one arm moves in front of you, it bends and wraps to the other side, the opposite arm swings back behind you, bends and also wraps to the opposite side. Let the tops of the shoulders stay relaxed away from the ears. The feet remain planted into the floor but the hips are allowed to sway from side to side. Decide if the head wants to follow or trail behind the movement or move in time with the arms. Find a way to swing that feels good for you. Knees never lock. Jaw is relaxed. Breath is moving freely. Let the eyes scan the room as you go from side to side. Give those eyeballs a chance to move around in their sockets! It’s super intuitive and rewarding.
You can swing for any amount of time, with 2-5 minutes being a general suggestion. We use the swing in the Quick Energy Booster and Stress Buster videos.
This is especially useful if you feel like you are hitting a creative or technical wall. Instead of continuing to beat your head against the wall, take a break. It will help reduce stress, anxiety and much more.
Some Guidelines: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Find a comfortable seated position. If you can sit cross-legged on the floor - great. The arms can land where they feel comfortable. As long as the spine is long and you’re in a shape you feel like you can hold – you’re ready to go. Start by focusing on the breath. The inhalation is in through the nose and out through the nose. Let the mind rest on the breath. Feel where the breath travels. You could say to yourself, ‘nose, throat, chest, ribs, belly’ on the inhalation and ‘belly, ribs, chest, throat, nose‘ on the exhalation. The goal is not to shut off the brain. Think of the thoughts that enter in the mind as passing clouds. You don’t need to get caught up in any narrative. I fit happens, no worries. Just come back to the breath.
If this 10-minute meditation practice feels good for you, there are a number of ways to proceed. Let your intuition guide you as you find different aspects of the body to focus on. For example, trace the body in the mind with the intention of trying to feel where the skin ends. There are also thousands of visualizations or themed meditations available and I would encourage some internet research or ask friends/family/trainers if they have suggestions.
What’s your favorite ‘computer break’?