Easy Yoga for Conservators

Here are three simple, quick yoga sequences, all from Yoga Journal, that are good for conservators. The first two sequences are nice for anyone who sits at a desk or a lab bench for long periods of time. If you have frequent neck pain or headaches, check these out. They were written by Ray Long, an orthopedic surgeon, and they help correct for upper and lower crossed syndrome. These syndromes occur when muscles shorten, tighten, and weaken as a result of sitting for long periods of time. You can read the full article about these muscle imbalances here, or you can go straight to illustrations of the issues and the slide shows of poses. Click here for upper crossed syndrome and here for lower.
The third sequence (click here) is good for anyone who stands for long periods of time, or who has lower back pain in general. I like this as an antidote to the pain caused by standing on my museum’s concrete floor for hours during exhibit installation. This sequence is written in ten minute increments, so that you can keep going and practice for up to 30 minutes if you like. Personally, I only ever do the first ten minutes.
You can do these sequences without a yoga mat, but make sure to practice in bare feet on a non-slippery surface. You will need a belt for the upper crossed and back pain sequences. You can use a yoga belt, a regular belt, or – if you don’t have any kind of belt at all – you can use a scarf or a towel. The upper crossed sequence also recommends lying on a bolster. If you don’t have a bolster, you can use anything that will allow your chest to open while still supporting your head: roll up a towel, a blanket, or try a sofa cushion (removed from the sofa).  For the lower-crossed sequence, a block is useful. If you don’t have a yoga block, you can improvise. When I’m traveling, I use my one-liter, Nalgene water bottle as a block; it’s the perfect height. If you are not super flexible, you might not need a block at all – your thigh might work fine.
Happy practicing!