I work at a health clinic that provides Osteopathy, Pilates, Remedial Massage and Yoga. Specifically – Melbourne Osteopathy Sports Injury Centre – you might have heard of it. But then again, you might not have…I probably haven’t heard of where you work (unless you’re employed by Facebook or one of those companies that do the ‘cheap Viagra’ deals).
People naturally imagine that because I work at this centre that I must be very fit, healthy and have great posture. I mean, being surrounded by all these wonderful services as well as an enthusiastic and talented team of practitioners, it would be hard for some of it not to rub off, right? Well yes, some of it, but not all of it.
While I am generally pretty fit and healthy (eat a good diet and do a whole bunch of cycling), my posture, last time I checked, most certainly lies somewhere in the range between ‘actual hunchback’ and ‘couch potato’.
This is because I spend a fair bit of my working day (which, I admit, is only about 4 hours) sitting at a desk. This provides ample opportunity to work on my own special brand of Desk Yoga. Some of my favourite poses include…
While it pleases me that I get to do ‘yoga’ at work, the benefits of this particular brand of yoga are quite limited. While more traditional forms of yoga can help you to ‘unite the mind, the body, and the spirit’, the brand of Desk Yoga that I practice only unites the pain in my back with the pain in my legs.
Then there’s the cycling. With a bike being my main form of transport, it can be nice to think of all the wonderful health benefits I am receiving on a daily basis. There’s obviously the cardio benefits, although at the pace that I commute to work, these are probably in the range ‘minor’ to ‘none’. More significantly for me, bicycle riding provides a wonderful opportunity to practice some more bad posture. On a bicycle, with your arms outstretched to the handlebars, your body weight is distributed between your bum, legs and hands and because you can allow your bodyweight to slump forward on to your hands, there’s no reason for your core muscles to engage. Cycling effectively allows you to get lazy in the mid-section because you don’t need to support any of your own weight.
Obviously the key to good posture (and any health improvement) is balance. It’s important to balance the bad things you do every day with good things. For me this could easily include a regular Pilates class or just some simple stretches in the studio after my working day ends. But to be honest, at 2pm, after a tough 4 hours on the desk, that’s the last thing I want to be doing. The lure of a soy latte and some quinoa fritters is just too tempting so I generally extract myself from Desk Yoga, move in to some Bike Yoga and then indulge in an hour or two of Café Yoga – which builds on some of the more popular Desk Yoga postures but can also include a bit more slouching.