Yoga poses have countless benefits, including stress reduction and increased balance and flexibility. But, did you know yoga can help you in the workplace? We’ve compiled a list of the following eight poses that will help enhance mental performance. And the best part is, you can do it all right in the comfort of your cubicle.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The challenge of tree pose is maintaining your balance on one leg. Unlike most poses, this one requires eyes open, which helps cultivate focus. This happens by selecting a drishti, which is a point your gaze is naturally directed to by the alignment of your posture. When practicing, it helps to imagine your body as a tree and that the foot your are balanced on are the roots and your leg is the trunk. Regular practice of this pose improves concentration, balance and coordination.
Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)
This pose is great for bringing focus to prana, or life force. The reclining nature of the pose promotes the opening of the hips, chest and torso, which helps respiration, circulation, and digestion. If physically relaxed in this pose, it can be very calming, and as the name “hero” suggests, it brings courage, confidence, and encourages grit. To get into this pose, start by kneeling with your heels spread apart allowing your hips to sink to the floor. If you are comfortable, place your hands on the floor behind you. Lean your weight into your hands, then lower your elbows and forearms to the floor.
Crow Pose (Bakasana)
Like any balance pose, crow requires your full concentration and a soft, but focused gaze. Many yogis turn to this pose again and again as a physical reminder of the need to eliminate distraction and champion the task at hand — in this particular case, it is to not face plant. For beginners, try placing the insides of your knees on your elbows and with practice work on getting your knees closer and closer to your armpits.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
This pose, named after the Hindu god Garuda, who is known for his power, strength and focus, is another balancing pose that helps cultivate mental acuity. Practicing this pose might initially leave you feeling awkward and compressed, but the release once settled in is great for combatting notoriously bad office posture and also instills confidence to take on the rest of your day. To get into the pose, start by standing with bent knees. Stand on one foot and wrap your other leg in front of your thigh and hook the top of your foot behind your calf. For your upper body, extend your arms in front of you bent at the elbow. Wrap one arm around another and press your palms together if possible.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
The merits of this pose for your health are numerous, including: energizing tired limbs, improving circulation and respiration, and developing balance and stability. By embodying the spirit of Shiva, you also enjoy the benefit of increased stamina and concentration. While in the pose be sure to practice keeping your heels in line, keeping your front thigh parallel to the floor, and avoid leaning over your front thigh.
Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra)
Inhale and bring your palms together, bow your head slightly, lift your sternum toward your thumbs, and let your elbows hang heavy in this pose, which is an excellent want to promote a meditative state of awareness. Salutation seal helps create a sense of opening your heart, while calming the mind’s activity and reducing stress and anxiety. The act of connecting your hands in front of your heart works to sync the two hemispheres of your brain exponentially improving your experience of reality, essentially ‘consciousness hacking’.
Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)
Don’t feel like sitting in Salutation Seal? Known as a pose to show respect in many Eastern countries, or namaste, prayer pose creates a sense of relaxation and concentration to ready you for your practice, all while standing. In yoga, this pose allows you to catch your breath, and focus on your body, lending itself as a great tool to have to help you re-center during a busy work day, or whenever you find you need a moment to adjust your attention. As one of the easiest poses to do on the go, you will have no trouble shifting your focus to where you need it after a few deep breaths.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Backward bending requires not only your utmost attention, but also the conquering of our fears, which is an adequate way to quiet the thoughts swirling around in our heads. Camel pose has several variations, but the easiest (pictured) can be achieved by started kneeled on the floor. Once comfortable, rise up so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor, and place your hands on your lower back. Slowly arch your back, letting your head fall. If comfortable, you can take your hands off your lower back to reach for your heels. A few deep breaths and your mind will be clear of all distractions.