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Making Time for Office Yoga

In May 2013, 3PLQS joined the ranks of Forbes, Nike, Apple, Google and other Fortune 500 companies by offering employees a chance to practice yoga at the office. For almost seven months, employees have signed up for lunchtime classes offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays (choice of two classes each day). While not everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to step away from their desk to stretch and de-stress, employees who do practice regularly are already appreciating the many benefits of yoga.

According to Charlene, a Call Centre Specialist with TQS Logistics division, practicing yoga has helped her better manage stiffness, pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis of the spine.  “Although I was very afraid to start yoga, I pushed forward to try it and give it all I have. To my surprise, I am truly amazed at the benefits of incorporating Yoga into my daily lifestyle. I have now become addicted to practicing and really could not do without it,” she says. “Yoga has made me feel stronger, more flexible, along with a feeling of release in the body and mind. I also sleep much better at night.”

For Joseph, a Business Analyst with the TQS Technology division, yoga had been on his ‘to do’ list to complement his more intense workout sessions at the gym. While he admits to being a bit leery of its benefits at first, he quickly embraced his practice. “The sessions were hard initially (in fact they still are most of the time) but my body learned to adjust. I learned that practicing diligently on the fundamentals improved my overall wellbeing,”

Ivona, a Web Designer for 3PLQS, thought yoga might help alleviate some issues with her hip and shoulder. “I’ve noticed subtle changes in my body, with my hip and shoulder problems I have to be really careful when doing some poses. But I am feeling stronger overall, my arm strength has improved and I am becoming more flexible. Yoga is hard, very challenging but it is rewarding too. You feel better after each class and less stressed.”

Some days, the biggest challenge is showing up on the mat to practice. Not surprisingly, last minute work emergencies arise and conflict with class schedules. Because classes are small, participants are able to communicate with everyone and either delay a class or rearrange their schedule to take the later class. There are times when someone will have to skip a class, but it doesn’t happen often. Most participants have discovered that rather than take away from the work day, yoga actually helps rejuvenate energy levels for the afternoon work schedule.

“Some days your day may run a bit longer or it may be more hectic but if it’s important to you, you will find a way (to practice yoga),” Charlene says. “I am very grateful and thankful for yoga and hope to aspire to a greater lifestyle because of practicing.”

As an employer, Chris Mattice, President of 3PLQS, chose to offer yoga within the workplace as a means to promote employee health and well-being. “Employees need time to step away from their desk to stretch and relax. Yoga is the ideal activity for this because it offers the chance to do both. It also has an added side benefit of allowing employees to interact in a non-work situation. Overall, I’m very pleased with the results,” he says. Chris also takes the time join a class as well as encouraging employees to step away from their desk to keep their commitment to yoga. “Personally, I have noticed an improvement in my own flexibility as well as a greater sense of ease in managing stress.”

Moving beyond the six month mark, yoga has definitely integrated into the corporate culture. And yogis are discovering how a yoga practice reaches beyond the mat.  Sometimes it’s just a simple matter of breathing mindfully.

According to Ivona, “I started to be more conscious about my breathing and using breathing exercises throughout the day. It helps me relax and de-stress.”

Yoga brought subtle changes to Joseph’s day-to-day life. “I have made a conscious effort to apply yoga practices in my everyday life. All of a sudden the 400 series highway traffic stress could be alleviated by focused breathing,” he says. “Yoga really has penetrated into my life. I enjoy mornings when rather than moving around stiffly after waking up, I can do a few rounds of Sun Salutation to limber up.”

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Soft Tissue Release

Foam Rolling

Over time, either from working out and exercising or from sitting from long periods of time, tension will start to build in your muscles. This muscle tension is often described as a knot, which can be painful and will prevent your muscles from functioning optimally. Since many of us do not have the money to have a professional massage therapist work at these knots daily, it is in our best interest release the tension in our muscles and soft tissue ourselves. About 10-20 minutes a day should be spent rolling out the entire body. Initially, this will be painful, but the more time you dedicate to this, the quicker this pain will subside. The key is to find the spots most painful, and apply as much pressure as you can tolerate.  Don’t be intimidated, after a few weeks of doing this daily, you’ll feel a noticeable difference in how your body feels!

Calves:

Calves soft tissue release

This routine should begin with your calves, and gradually work up your body. You can use two legs at once, but this may not dig into the muscle deep enough. If there is no muscle soreness, attempt crossing one like on top of the other so the rolling is applied onto one calve at a time. Find a tender spot, and roll back and forth.

Hamstrings:

Hamstrings soft tissue release

Starting from the back of the knee, moving to just below your butt, begin rolling out your hamstrings. One leg at a time is ideal, having the opposite leg bent in order to push you back and forth.

Gluts (butt):

Gluts soft tissue release 

Placing one foot on top of the opposite leg, just above the knee, begin rolling out your gluts. You can rotate your body to the left and the right to roll different trigger points in the muscle.

IT Band:

IT Band soft tissue release

The IT band is located on the side of your leg and is commonly very tight. Do not be surprised if you begin to experience more pain than the spots you have rolled out so far. Proper form consists of the bottom leg (with the pressure applied) extended straight, and the back straight and in alignment with the extended leg. The opposite leg is bent and placed in front of the extended leg to support and propel your body back and forth. You can use are elbow/forearm closest to the ground to support your upper body as well. If you find a spot that is extremely painful, hold the roll there for a few seconds and then move back and forth on it. The more pain you can tolerate, the better.

Quads:

Quads soft tissue release 

Slide to the edge of the roller in order to have one leg bent and braced onto the floor. The opposite leg will be bent, with the roller being applied on the quads (front of your thigh). Move up and down, finding the trigger points. You can rotate your body left and right to move the roller more inward or more outward.

Groin:

Groin soft tissue release 

Turn the foam roller horizontally. Bend one leg and place the knee on top of the roller. Moving left and right and gradually move from above the knee towards the hip/pelvic region. Relax neck and shoulders as much as possible.

Chest & Back:

Chest & back soft tissue release

Place the foam roller vertically, along your spine and gently place your head down. With your arms up in the air above your chest, slowly relax them above your head. You should feel tension through your chest, and possibly tightness in you upper back and shoulder area. Relax and let yourself sink into this position, letting the tension release. Do not forget to take deep breathes from your belly. (See image below).

chest & back soft tissue release

Mid-Back:

mid back soft tissue release 

Pushing into your heels to raise your butt off the ground slightly, roll up and down the middle region of your back and into your shoulder blades.  Again, you may rotate your body left or right to put emphasis on one side over the other. To further stretch your upper back and increase the range of motion, you may drop your butt down and lower your hands over your head and onto the floor. Doing this may cause some adjustments throughout the spine, so if you hear your back crack, don’t panic! This is a good thing, and simply means that you are mobilizing your spinal column (See image below).

mid back soft tissue release 

 Lats:

lats soft tissue release 

Place the foam roller horizontally underneath your armpit. Ensure that the bottom leg is straight and in complete alignment with your upper body. The top leg will be bent and place in front of the other leg to proper your body up and down on the roller. Relax the arm above your head, turning your palm upwards.

Shoulders & Neck:

Shoulders soft tissue release

Place the foam roller against the wall and apply pressure onto your should, just below your neck. Lean into it as much as possible and let your arm relax towards the floor. Then, slowly move your arm in a circle going clockwise, then counter-clockwise. To increase the pressure applied on your shoulder, you may hold a weight in your hand (if available). After a minute or two, drop the weight if you’re holding one, and begin to roll up into your neck. Rotate your body left or right to get different locations on your neck. Proceed with extreme caution, and be gentle. Remember to keep your head upright, keeping your spine straight.

 

Download Foam Rolling Soft Tissue Release PDF document
 

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