Desk Tai Chi: Reduce Your Workday
Without Leaving Your Office
By “Dr. Ron” Knaus
On the job
stress has reached an alarming rate. According to Princeton Survey
Research Associates, three-fourths of employees believe today’s
workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago.
Additionally, one-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number
one stressor in their lives. Problems at work are more strongly
associated with health complaints than are any other
life-stressor—more so than even financial problems or family
of all this stress can be devastating, from chronic health challenges
to severe workplace injuries. Even more alarming is the fact that
healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report
high levels of stress. In light of all these findings, what’s a
worker to do?
keeping a healthy life balance is key to reducing stress. This means
getting proper rest and nutrition, exercising regularly, engaging in
hobbies for mental relaxation, and having a strong emotional support
system in place. But, with
today’s jam-packed schedules, there isn’t enough time to breathe,
let alone establish and maintain a healthy life balance.
And what about those sudden slip-ups at work that send stress
levels through the roof?
relieve workday stress, many people are turning to Tai Chi, a
self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements
(“forms”) that emphasize acute concentration, relaxation, and the
conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Tai Chi is
a martial art based on the Eastern belief that a life force (chi) or
energy circulates throughout the body by way of pathways called
meridians. A disruption of this energy flow (such as through stress)
is believed to result in illness or injury. Therefore, a balance of
chi is essential for health, and Tai Chi is an exercise that promotes
this proper flow of energy.
other exercises, such as cardiovascular workouts or weight training,
Tai Chi is something anyone can do, and they can do it anywhere—even
sitting behind a desk in a cubicle. By doing the following simple yet
effective Tai Chi Forms at work every day, you will get your body
moving, relax your mind and experience the benefits of stress
As you do
each of the following Tai Chi Forms, realize that you are not striving
for perfection, but for relief of stress while increasing your
personal energy. Why? Because the more energy you have, the better you
can handle the stresses of working life. Do
each of the following forms in sequence—that is Form 1 leads
directly into Form 2, which leads into Form 3, and so on. The entire
sequence takes only a few short minutes to complete; yet it delivers
high results that you’ll experience immediately.
Form 1: “Removing Egg from
Start by sitting in a chair; exhale while you drop your
arms to your side and make sure you drop your shoulders. Bring
your fingers and thumbs together on the right and left, as though you
were lifting an egg out of a bird’s nest. Inhale while extending
your arms laterally, keeping your elbows slightly bent, and very
slowly bring your arms over your head. If you can, touch your wrists
above your head. At this point let go of the egg. As you bring
your arms down, push out with your hands. This will stretch out
the carpal tunnel area and reduce the possibility of Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome. Slowly bring your arms and hands to your sides. When
your arms are at 45-degree angle, you are forming the letter A. The
benefit of this firm form is that you stretch the shoulder girdle,
increase your lung capacity with an influx of oxygen, and stretch the
tendons and muscles used in typing.
Form 2: “Stoke the Sparrows
the letter A position, bring your arms to the front and grasp an
imaginary “Energy Ball,” keeping your right arm (hand facing
down) on top and your left arm about twelve inches below (hand facing
up). As you grasp the Energy Ball, bring your right arm down and
place your right hand on your right hip while you extend your left arm
high above your head. The movement should represent you stroking
a bird’s back feathers with your right hand, while your left hand
slides upward under the bird’s neck. As you move your hands and
arms, sit tall in your chair, extending your back to the ceiling. The
benefit of this form is that you bring oxygen in while extending the
spine upward, warding off the constant pull of gravity.
Form 3: “Capture the
the previous form, inhale and grasp the Energy Ball again, with your
right hand on top and left hand below, about twelve inches apart. Feel
the energy between your hands. Slowly rotate your waist and body
to the right while extending your arms to the right to grasp an
imaginary wave (about 24 inches in height). Make the letter C with
your fingers and thumb with each hand. Exhale as you extend. Now,
as you inhale, bring your arms back to center to grasp the Energy
Ball. This time, rotate your left arm and hand to the top of the
Energy Ball and your right arm and hand to the bottom, again about
twelve inches apart. Then, while exhaling, extend your arms out to the
left, making the letter C with your fingers and thumb. The benefit of
this form is to rotate the spine, the waist, and the pelvis while
strengthening the body core.
Form 4: “Stoke the Sparrows
the letter C position, repeat form #2, but on the opposite side,
ending with the right arm and hand extended above the head. Come
back to center grasping the Energy Ball, with your right hand on top.
Form 5: “Kick the Stars”:
the center position of holding the Energy Ball (with your right hand
on top) slowly bring your right hand and arm down to behind your
chair, while slowly extending your right leg to a 90-degree angle from
the pelvis. Extend your left hand and arm upward as your toes
kick the stars. Reverse and repeat with the opposite side. You
may point your toes toward your nose to stretch your back leg tendons
and muscles while extending the spine. The benefit of this form is to
expand your breathing capacity while increasing oxygen to the body,
stretching leg muscles, and giving energy back to the system while
Reclaim Your Vital Energy Today: While Tai Chi delivers numerous
stress reducing benefits, it is only one tool in your anti-stress
arsenal. Combine some daily Tai Chi with proper diet, rest, and
emotional and mental support and relaxation.
Soon you’ll be able to handle any workday challenge without
the negative stress implications.
you’re ready to ease your workday so you can be more productive and
less stressed, then give Tai Chi a try. By doing so, you’ll be able
to reclaim the energy that stress depletes, causing you to be happier,
healthier, and more successful in everything you do.
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