From The Mat to the Mousepad: Yoga and RSI
If you work in an office or simply in front of a computer like most of us these days, chances are you are in a static posture for long stretches of time. Not only this, but also this posture might not be the best for you ergonomically.
This, in the long term, can cause injuries in various areas of your body, in your lower back, hips, neck, shoulders, wrists and elbows. Last year I was off work for 6 weeks because of a painful case of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). It took a very long time to recover from it, and a lot of the injuries are still with me.
RSI can be crippling in your everyday life. I got to a point last year where I could barely cook, cutting a tomato was excruciating, I couldn’t stir a sauce, because when you suffer from RSI any repetitive movement becomes sends a burning pain in your tendons and muscles, even brushing your teeth can hurt.
Yoga is wonderful to prevent and recover from RSI. So, on top of your usual practice, you can do a few stretches at work but also a few breathing exercises. Tension when working aggravates RSI, and pranayama could be a good tool as well.
Here are a few suggestions:
– change posture as often as you can, move on your chair.
– check your ergonomics at work (see diagram)
– take small breaks away from your keyboard and screen. Walk around the office, get a glass of water, go to your colleague’s office to discuss an issue instead of sending them an email.
– stretch: your neck (30 seconds each side), do a few shoulder shrugs, stretch your wrists and forearms in front of you, or interlace your fingers and stretch your arms up, stretch your back by doing a seated forward fold, knees bent on your chair, your upper back by interlacing your fingers and stretching your arms in front of you, do a few twists on your chair to realign your spine. There are a lot of suggestions on the internet as well as small videos on youtube, that you can watch in your breaks. The key is, as you do on your mat, to hold your mini-asanas for at least 5 breaths in order for your muscles to stretch properly.
– breathe: if you feel tensed, stressed, take a few minutes to come back to your breathing. Why not try Viloma pranayama? Inhale for count of 3, pause, exhale for a count of 3, pause, and again, inhale for 3, etc. It is a very good exercise to quieten the mind and it will help you focus again.
– have a yoga class at work: more and more companies now bring yoga to their employees. One of my fellow teacher trainees, has actually started teaching his colleagues. Why not suggest a similar initiative to your HR department?