Five Easy Exercises to Improve Focus and Productivity

We've all been there. It's 2pm on a Tuesday and you're counting the minutes until the workday is over. Believe it or not, just moving a little and breathing deeply can improve your ability to accomplish tasks and approach your workday more creatively. Not to mention, it can give you a real energy boost! Here are my top five favorite things to do when I need to destress and focus.

Counting Breath
Start by taking a few deep breaths and let those breaths reach the top of your lungs. Your posture may even improve as you do this! After you settle into breathing deeply, start to count the breaths-- four counts in, four counts out. Try to make your inhales and exhales as even as possible. Do this as many rounds as you like, but I recommend starting with five.

Shoulder Opener
Sit tall in your chair, or stand up tall. Reach your arms out wide and keep them the height of your shoulders if possible. Have the palms of your hands facing forward. Take a deep breath here and notice what you're feeling. If this feels great, stay! If you want more, you can reach your palms back slightly and reach the shoulder blades closer together on the back. Make sure you can still sit up straight and take deep breaths. Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths.

Chair Pose
Sure, it's not everyone's favorite, but chair pose is really great for building the strength you need to sit and stand up tall. It's also a great way to wake up and focus mid workday, and you can sneak it in very easily! The next time you're headed back to your desk and getting ready to sit down, stand in front of your chair. Bend your knees and stick your hips back like you're about to sit down, but hover for a few breaths. Make sure your knees are over your ankles-- not in front of them. If you like, you can reach your arms forward for balance. When you're done, just sit on down. 

Forward Fold
From a standing position, bend your legs and hang your torso over your legs and let your head and neck hang. Your legs can be so deeply bent that your belly actually rests on your thighs, this doesn't have to be all about the hamstrings! Take 3-5 deep breaths here. When you feel ready, slowly roll yourself back up to standing. Take your time here, your body needs to readjust to being upright.

Modification: If you have low back pain or blood pressure issues, do this same pose sitting in a chair. From a seat, fold your torso over your thighs and let your head hang. Take 3-5 deep breaths here. When you feel ready, slowly come back up to a comfortable seated position.

Seated Twist
From the comfort of your desk chair, take a deep breath and sit up tall. If your chair has armrests, keep your knees forward, turn to the left, and place both hands on your armrest to help you maintain this twist. If your chair doesn't have armrests, take both knees to the left, turn to the back of the chair, and place both hands on the back of the chair to help maintain the twist. Take 3-5 deep breaths and repeat this turning to the right this time.