Yoga Bliss Gambia: Office Yoga

My Magazine 2022/03
5 min
Author: Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Are you often sitting at your work feeling discomfort or pain in your body? Are you getting irritable or lethargic? Do you feel anxiety or stressed that it’s affecting the productivity of your work?

Did you know that yoga can give you immediate relief and that you can practice yoga even in your workspace?

There are ways to incorporate yoga by practising chair yoga which has proven to be effective in maintaining work efficiency by improving posture, mind clarity, concentration, reducing stress and increasing positivity in your work.

If you do not have a private office, why not ask your colleagues to join you in a short session of yoga with you?  Even a short 5 to 10 minutes can make a difference.

Start by sitting comfortably on a chair.  Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, your spine is drawn up (if you need lower back support place a small cushion behind your lower back).  Place the back of your hands on your thighs, turning your palms up to face the ceiling.  Close your eyes, breathing gently in and out through the nose.  Start by observing your breathing, taking notice of the rhythm and the depth of your breathing.  Gradually deepen the breath by intentionally expanding the chest and stomach as you inhale.  This gives space for the lung to expand effectively allowing you to take in more air, maximising the intake of breath, meaning more oxygen intake.  It may feel a little forceful at the beginning if you’re not used to breathing deeply.  As you exhale try not to exhale rapidly, instead allow the air to release out through your nose slowly with a controlled pace, feeling the stomach drawing back inwards, and the chest lowering down as you progress through the exhalation.  Throughout the breathing practice keep your awareness to the breathing and the sensation it creates.  Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.

Make sure you have enough space in front of your chair.  As you inhale bring your arms up, reaching up with your arms, stretch the spine and come into a slight backbend by leaning into the back support.  As you exhale, lower your chest towards your thighs bringing your arms down and hands reaching down towards your feet. Repeat 5 times (applicable to the office space situation).

Inhale to come back up to an upright sitting position reaching up with your arms to stretch the spine.

Exhale and lower your right hand onto your left thigh, and hold on to the back of the chair with your left hand coming into a twist. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.

Inhale to reach up and extend the spine, as you exhale come into a side stretch, leaning across to the right. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale back to the centre and exhale out to lean to your left. Hold for 5 breaths.

Return to the centre and bring your hands onto your knees.  With your Inhalation push your shoulders back to expand the chest and lift the chin to look up, as you exhale push the back of your shoulder blades out to stretch the back and look towards your belly button.  Bring your chin as close as you can to your collar bone. Repeat 5 times.

Return back to the centre.  Bend your right knee up towards your chest as close as you can hold for 5 breaths. Bring your forehead down towards your knee, feeling the stretch in your spine hold for 5 breaths.  Repeat with your left leg.

Extend the right leg forward, flex and point your foot 5 times, then while keeping your foot in a flexed position lift your leg as high as you can.  Try to keep your leg straight and maintain your upright posture, hold for 5 breaths.  Repeat with your left leg.

Standing at the back of your chair with your hands there, find your balance on the ball of your feet by lifting the heels off the ground as high as you can.  Maintain your balance for 5 breaths and lower down your heels.

Take a large step back from the chair.  Inhale to reach the arms up towards the ceiling, extending the spine, then as you exhale lower your hands onto the back of the chair.  Extend the back of your legs and push down your chest to open up through the chest and shoulders.  Hold the position for 5 breaths and return to a standing position.

Return back to your seat, feet flat on the ground, and your spine extended.  Place the back of your hands onto your thigh, facing the palms up.  Close your eyes, observe your breathing.  If your mind starts to wander to other thoughts, bring your focus back to your breathing.  Maintain this process for 2 minutes or longer.  Take three deep breaths in the end each with inhalation through the nose and the exhalation out through the mouth. I hope that you can try this routine in your office. 

Although I have suggested repetitions of 5 you can always reduce the number of repetitions, and the length of hold to suit the time you have.  As you go through each movement stay focussed on the sensations in your body, observe the parts of your body that are at work, if you find any blockages or tightness use your mind and breath.  Visualise those tight areas and blockages to soften and dissolve, to melt away with each breath. 

During the practice, if your mind returns to work or other thoughts, rather than pondering on those thoughts, or feeling bad that you were not able to hold your focus to your practice, bring your awareness back to your breathing.  This is a continual practice.  As you spend more time to repeat this through your daily life you will notice that it becomes easier to shift your focus, taking a mental rest allows you to take a wholesome step away from any stress, anxiety, and the fast pace life and come to a peaceful sanctuary in your own body and mind.


Melissa Kuwahata Daswani
Founder, Yoga Bliss Gambia and Yoga Bliss Creations
Melissa Daswani is a professional yoga teacher trained and accredited in Hatha Yoga from Rishikesh, India. She was introduced to yoga in the early adolesce by her mother who often practised yoga at their home and still continues to practice to date.
Melissa started to indulge in yoga with a keen interest in her 20’s after researching the benefits of practising yoga.
In order to expand her knowledge and practice, she initially enrolled on official training in India during 2009. Her initial stint in yoga teaching began in 2012 in Togo, followed by expanding in the Gambia from 2016. Melissa’s style of teaching incorporates the fundamental and crucial steps of yoga called Hatha yoga, which encompasses the basis of all other styles of yoga. Melissa believes that every individual has something to gain from Yoga which is not limited to mental, physical or spiritual.
Yoga is not a religion but more a spiritual exercise as well as a practice that can universally be incorporated into your daily routine. Melissa offers regular weekly classes in Fajara, the Gambia, which is open to all levels.
She also runs a weekly beach yoga class which is very refreshing and energizing.
It’s her love and dedication towards teaching which allows her the opportunity to share the essence of yoga and its benefits to people from all walks of life.
Whether you reside in the Gambia or a visitor in The Gambia, Yoga Bliss Gambia would love to welcome you to their next class.

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