And while job-related stress seems like the main culprit when it comes to health and your career ( it can have negative health effects as far ranging as increased heart attack risk, depression or premature aging), there’s another danger lurking in the office: Sitting.
“Sitting is the new smoking,” warned Wired magazine earlier this year. And indeed research links a highly sedentary lifestyle with a shorter life span and increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, among other serious health problems.
As most desk jockeys know (and feel), sitting over a keyboard for hours can contribute to tightness in the hips and legs, in addition to neck, shoulder and back pain and discomfort. Camping out all day at a desk can also create an unhealthy posture — that you take with you when you leave for the day — in which the back and shoulders hunch down and the neck protrudes forward.
“There are a lot of very negative physical reactions created when the body’s not in movement,” Vyda Bielkus, certified yoga instructor and founder of Health Yoga Lifestudio in Boston, tells The Huffington Post. “Between sitting eight hours a day and then being in the elevator looking at your smartphone, you’re totally misaligning the spine.”
Yoga postures that target areas of tension can be an effective antidote to many desk-job ailments, according to Bielkus. And, as an added bonus, mind-body practice may help address the damaging stress of a high-pressure job by helping to calm the mind and quiet racing thought patterns.
“Yoga allows us to tap into the space between our thoughts, into our quiet mind and our awareness,” Bielkus says. “That’s what helps us gain perspective that stress is a choice — I can react with ease or I can react with stress and anxiety. Yoga helps us create some distance from our reactions.”