Starting 2021 on the right foot: Ensure your digital wellbeing in the year ahead

By Chan Wern Shen
  • The first step to achieving better digital wellness is to be aware of your own current digital habits
  • Include your children in the process of setting up new rules – they’re more likely to follow them when they’ve had a say
  • Revisit old non-tech habits like reading books to give your eyes a rest from digital screens

Over the course of the last decade, our lives have changed significantly thanks to advances in technology. Terms like “hyper-connectivity” and “digital wellbeing” were seemingly non-existent, and daily tasks like paying for hawker food with your mobile phone or ordering groceries directly from your fridge were merely scenes from sci-fi movies.

But here we are in 2021, where all of these things are very real, and very intertwined with our daily lives. 

All in a day’s work

These days, you wake up to messages from your friends and family, browse through global news on your smartphone at breakfast, and watch your children dial into their online classes with their laptops. You get dressed and choose the fastest route to the office with your in-car GPS head unit, and listen to an audiobook while you wade through traffic. 

At the office, you quickly check up on the situation at home via the IP-connected CCTV, and pay for your parking with the council app. While you’re at it, you notice that some utility bills haven’t been paid, and quickly run through the usage details.

“That’s odd. This month’s bill is much higher,” you think to yourself as you hit the PAY NOW button. “I’ll have a chat with the kids later,” you remind yourself as you sip on your coffee while dialing into a conference call with your colleagues in Shanghai. 

At lunch hour, you decide to order in and browse through the endless delivery options on your phone. You can never be too sure these days with the rising number of daily COVID cases, and pull up the app to check on the latest updates in your area. Even though you’re not working in a red zone, you can never be too safe.

A little after four, you get a reminder telling you that your parents are coming over for dinner. Quickly you open up your condo management app, and pre-register them as visitors – “this will save them a lot of hassle,” you tell yourself with a slight nod while sending them the QR code over WhatsApp.

Just before you head home, you receive the notification that you’ve been waiting for all day – your new toy, an internet-connected smart vacuum robot has been delivered, and you can’t wait to get home to set it up.

When you get home, you notice your daughter looking a little upset. She had an exam today, so you log in to the school’s parent portal app, and see that she didn’t get the grades that she was expecting. “Maybe it’s because she’s been spending too much time online,” you ask yourself before you start with your pep talk.

Dinner is a pleasure, but you don’t want your parents driving so late at night – their vision isn’t what it used to be – so you call them a car to fetch them home. You pay for it with your e-wallet, and set a note to the driver, telling him to take the quickest route back.

As you get ready for bed, you catch up with the current events in the news. You reply to a few messages that you missed, and jot down a quick to-do for tomorrow. With the lights turned off, you rest your head down and close your eyes.

But just as you start drifting asleep, you hear the faint sounds of speaking in the background. Your daughter must be online even after she’s supposed to be asleep…

The Quest for Digital Wellness

The whole notion of “Digital Wellness” was borne from days like the one that we just described. As Google themselves once said, “when technology becomes integral to almost everything that we do, it would eventually distract us from the things that matter the most”.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, and increasingly, see this becoming more apparent. So much so, that one of the driving forces behind the creation of Audra HomeShield was to provide parents like yourself with easy access to the cornerstones of digital wellness.

With Audra HomeShield, you’ll be able to:

  • Manage the amount of screen time being used in your household
  • Manage the type of content that can be accessed 
  • Understand the usage habits of people in your household
  • Protect your internet connected devices from external threats

But what really is “digital wellness” and why is it so important?

Simply put, digital wellness refers to the state of your physical and mental health in today’s digital age. Because we’re so wired, research shows that our digital lifestyle makes us more susceptible to issues like anxiety, addiction and depression.

What we see as time saving or convenient on the surface could trigger dependency issues, an impedance to our critical and creative thinking, and also introduce a host of physical ailments like damaged vision, spinal problems, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Worst still, these issues do not exclusively affect adults. An alarming number of children are also showing symptoms of internet addiction, gadget dependency and the accompanying physical repercussions that come with them.

Being digitally well doesn’t just revolve around knowing how to identify what’s bad for you. It’s about adapting and overcoming digital dependence, making technology work for you, and ultimately, about finding the right balance for you and your family between the real world and the digital one.

Steps to ensure digital wellness in 2021

  • Be aware of your own habits

Before you can fix an issue, you first need to understand what you’re up against. Although it may not seem like it, your children are very aware of how much time you spend on your screens. As children do, they will gauge your screen dependency as the “acceptable amount”, and will often challenge you when you try to discipline them for overuse.

In fact, up to 27% of children say that their parents have double standards when it comes to how much screen time they’re allowed to have.

From checking our phones for messages the moment we wake up, to sneaking a peek at the dinner table during meals, not to mention, the fact that we would binge watch an entire Netflix for eight hours straight – these are some of the notable cues that children will pick up on and use them against you. More importantly, they may turn out to be the cracks showing in the relationship between the parent and the child.

“Children are not stupid, children are brilliant amazing little creatures that pick up on your nonverbal cues, more than verbal cues, and they will do what they see 100% of the time,” says child and family development specialist, Rachael Kwacz

“Not only that, your kids will call you out on lots of stuff, when you’re using your phone or the Internet when you shouldn’t, and as parents, we often proclaim ourselves an exception to the rule because we were the ones who set it.”

It starts with you, and the values that you instill into their minds. 

  • Create the rules together

After almost a year of e-learning, your children probably have their own devices and have formed their own set of usage patterns. Whether you like it or not, 2020 has allowed them to be more exposed to the internet than you probably know. But now that school is scheduled to reopen, we’re pretty sure that you’re thinking of restricting their internet usage.

In situations like this, it’s important that you include them into the process of creating the new rules. By giving them a say in how long they should be allowed every day, they are more likely to feel that their opinion is appreciated, and in turn, more inclined to follow the law of the house.

However, we understand that it’s not always that easy, and created the Daily Limit by Hours feature on Audra HomeShield to help you enforce these agreed limits.

To set this feature up through the Audra Management App:

  1. Navigate to the Set Internet Limit menu
  2. Scroll down to Daily Limit by Hours and set the amount of hours with the slider
  3. Activate the feature and tap Save
  4. Audra will automatically track your child’s internet usage and enforce the daily limit once it is reached
  5. Be intentional with your daily proceedings

As the country gets back into gear in 2021, our children will start going back to school, and we will see ourselves start venturing out from our home offices more and more. This would mean that the daily routines (or lack of) that we had set up over the better part of 2020 are in for a sudden change.

Use this opportunity positively to rebuild your daily habits. While you don’t need to have a detailed plan for each day of the week, ensure that you’re aware of what you need to achieve in any given day, so that you can keep your digital activity accountable.

For example, if you need to be out of the house by 7.30am in order to get your children to school on time but can’t forgo your daily ritual of reading the news headlines over coffee, then block out the necessary time on a daily basis in order to achieve both of these tasks.

This might mean cutting short your usual TV time at night, or stopping yourself from doomscrolling your social feed in bed to get enough sleep to operate properly the next day.

In cases like this, features like Bed Time in Audra HomeShield might be just as effective in helping you as it would be for your children.

To set this feature up through the Audra Management App:

  1. Navigate to the Set Internet Limit menu
  2. Tap on the Bed Time feature as set the time which internet connectivity should cut off and reactivate
  3. Activate the feature and tap Save
  4. Audra will automatically enforce Bed Time at the set hours and resume internet connectivity after they have passed

  • Revisit your forgotten no-tech habits

When’s the last time you actually flipped the pages of a book as opposed to swiping across a screen, or hitting play for the next chapter of an audio book? Do you remember the last time you picked up on a headline that wasn’t on the wrapper of your nasi lemak? 

While these may be “old school” habits, they provide you with a short escape from the clutches of your digital devices. Besides that, a return to the analog versions of your favorite hobbies also give you a chance to actually concentrate and relax – free from annoying notifications, pop-ups or alarms.

Reading a book also has the fringe benefit of keeping your vision in check. Jeff Taylor, Medical Director for YourSightMatters.com tells us in this article that, “Normally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this rate decreases by half when we are staring at our smartphone. As we squint to read these miniature screens, our facial, neck and shoulder muscles tighten, eyes become fatigued and vision can be blurred or strained.”

  • Rekindle human connections

Although social distancing is still going to be a big part of 2021’s culture, this doesn’t mean that your human connections need to continue suffering. For starters, think about the human connections between you and your children – are they as strong as they were pre-lockdown? 

Have the extended hours in close proximity enriched the relationship with your family members? Or has this forced time together simply made you more comfortable with zone out into your own world in front of them?

If it’s the latter, then your household is in danger of falling into disarray. Rachael Kwacz tells us that, “if your children don’t feel seen or heard at home, they’re going to look for this stimulus in other places, such as their peer groups or online. But if they feel connected at home, he or she is able to have a healthy conversation with the parents, and work together as a team to keep the whole family safe.”

Do what works for you

To tell you that this isn’t a definitive list of must-do’s would be an understatement. The simple fact is that we’re all programmed differently, have different habits and have different tolerances to our digital devices. This makes the need to understand digital wellness all the more important, and we hope that this blog post can help you to realize the importance of embracing a digital balanced lifestyle.

If you have any suggestions or tips on how we can all achieve better balance in our lives, please do let us know your thoughts on Facebook.

Stay tuned to the Audra blog to learn more about digital wellness, internet addiction, gadget dependency, and also how Audra HomeShield can find a place in your home.

4 Calmer Ways to Take A Break From the Everyday Hustle

4 Calmer Ways to Take A Break From the Everyday Hustle

Words by Celeste Goh
  • A recent survey shows that 1-in-10 Malaysian employees are going through anxiety or depression
  • The always-on, always-connected lifestyle is the main contributor to this high number
  • Breathing exercises and yoga can help detach from the digital world
  • Meditation and enough sleep are proven restorative methods for mental health

As the year 2020 draws to a close in the next few weeks, we would say that it is perfectly normal if you feel a little heavy in the head; modern urban life is stressful as it is, even without the ongoing pandemic that has so rashly entered our lives this year.

Last year, Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace by AIA Vitality, the first science-backed survey commissioned by AIA, has shown that out of the 17,595 employees polled, with the bulk of them aged 18 to 40: 51% of them suffer from work-related stress, whereas 53% of them get less than seven hours of sleep each night. On top of that, 7% of them experience moderate to high levels of anxiety or depressive symptoms – that’s one out of 10 Malaysian employees going through anxiety or depression, with most of them being millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996).

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The American Psychological Association has revealed in their annual survey that millennials in the US were the most stressed-out generation, as CEO of SuperFriend Margo Lydon confirms: “Traditionally, work-related challenges for young people were often about building careers, and this is no different from any other generation. Except that, in 2020, we have a more globally connected world that is moving at a much faster pace, with greater levels of social, political and economic uncertainty, plus increased expectations of productivity, which often mean longer hours and increased work stress.”

Not only that, Dato’ Dr Andrew Mohanraj, President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association concurs that millennials are also synonymous with the digital boom: “Being more connected and, ironically, more isolated from the real world, being exposed to cyber bullying, with little opportunity for real interaction, or having limited actual interactions – all these have a negative impact on one’s ability to handle stressful situations.” 

“What is ordinarily not deemed to be stressful may seem like a psychologically overwhelming situation to millennials, who are immersed in the digital world,” he adds. “Burnout and depressive symptoms are not issues that can be taken lightly, as they may lead to more serious issues, such as suicidal behaviour.”

“We need to check in with ourselves periodically to find out how we are doing,” says April Kuan, yoga instructor and wellness practitioner. “We don’t pause enough. We’re always so busy constantly, and we’re always up in our heads thinking: what we need to do the next day, or in the next hour; what we haven’t done yet, or what we’re falling behind on; or what we did yesterday that we shouldn’t have done… We’re always constantly thinking, thinking, thinking – and when you’re thinking too much, that’s when you get stressed.”

That’s why this week, we’re checking in with April again, to find out the subtler ways to take a break from the everyday hustle – to stop whatever we are doing even just for a minute or two, to #lookup and enjoy where you are, and be conscious of where you are, even if it’s within the confines of your own home!

“While it is sometimes daunting to have to always constantly work at trying to be happy, it’s a practice that we have to just keep doing it every day diligently, and understand that this is part and parcel of taking care of ourselves,” April adds. 

“It’s like what the late Micheal Jackson said: look into the man in the mirror first, before you can change. If you’re not good in here, your life outwards will never be good, and the easiest way to change your life is to change yourself, because you know yourself the best.”

Breathe

That’s it, folks – just breathe! While it’s an everyday, autonomous occurrence to us, we don’t actually pay attention to our breathing – mainly because it’s automatic to any living being. In fact, even though it’s the easiest thing to do, not a lot of people want to do just that, putting aside some time to just breathe.

“When we actually sit down, close our eyes, and really just focus on breathing, it actually makes a whole lot of difference,” April says. “Just that pause at the end of the day is enough – take a few breaths, and not think about work for a while. When you come back to it, you will find that you are calmer.”

India Times have reported that “breathing correctly is important for your overall well being, and by taking just a few moments each day to practise some deep breathing exercises can decrease stress, relax your mind, body and can help you sleep better.”

From improving your blood flow, body immunity and digestion; to reducing inflammation, stimulating the lymphatic system, and detoxifying the body – deep breathing relaxes the mind and body, as well as calms down anxiety: “When you are angry, tensed or scared, your muscles are tightened and your breathing becomes shallow. Your breathing constricts, and your body cannot get the amount of oxygen it requires,” India Times says. “Deep breathing reverses this process, and it slows down your heart rate, allowing the body to take in more oxygen, and ultimately signals the brain to wind down.”

Practise Restorative Yoga

Besides the physical benefits of practising yoga, which April has shown us last week, she also mentions that “the real reason for practising yoga is to prepare the body for meditation.”

Meghan Johnston of Yoga Medicine has also said that “restorative yoga not only allows us to relearn the art of relaxation, while developing the skills and abilities to self-soothe, but also enhances our healing capacity through helping us regulate the stress response and re-balance the nervous system.”

Johnston states that restorative yoga can help strengthen our ability to move between states of stress and rest with more ease, by reconnecting with our parasympathetic nervous system – a branch of our autonomic nervous system that controls involuntary functions in the body, like our heart rate. 

She adds: “When we are in states of stress, or what is often termed “fight or flight,” we are in an elevated sympathetic state. In contrast, during periods of rest and recovery, we are in an elevated parasympathetic state.”

One of the restorative yoga poses you may look into is the Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), which as the name implies, you lie on the ground with your legs up on the wall for about 10 to 15 minutes. You may have a pillow underneath your lower body for additional support, or open up the hips by opening and closing your legs.

“If you just have too much in your head, and you just need to calm down, anything that gets your legs higher than your head is recommended for anyone feeling overwhelmed with stress,” April says. 

On the other hand, the Child’s Pose (Balasana) is another restorative yoga pose you may try out: from a kneeling position, bring the forehead to the floor, and relax the arms alongside the body, with the palms facing upwards.

“When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, anything that brings your head down to the floor and falls you forward to your body is very restorative, and very grounding,” April says. “It’s like you’re bringing yourself inwards, almost into a fetal position, where you’re getting in touch with yourself, and connecting back with yourself.”

Meditate

While we’re not talking about achieving monk-like nirvana, April states that meditation is the simple act of observing your thoughts: “When you observe your thoughts, you get to sift through the mental haze. You’d then get more clarity, and you’d feel more grounded.”

“Our brains are capable of thinking all kinds of things, and we are human beings that feel. We can’t escape from feeling, and we need to understand that it’s all part of the human condition, and we should not beat ourselves up about it,” she says. “What we can do is to accept these thoughts and feelings as clouds; we just need to go through them when they come, and then let them go.”

Mayo Clinic has also stated that “meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional wellbeing.”

Sounds like a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo thus far? Well, Gaëlle Desbordes, an instructor in radiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging has looked into the science of mindfulness-based meditation, and in 2012 Desbordes has discovered “changes in brain activity in subjects who have learned to meditate hold steady even when they’re not meditating.”

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The functional MRI scan reveals the activation in the amygdala – a collection of cells near the base of the brain that is key to how we process strong emotions like fear and pleasure. The imagery on the left is when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation; whereas the imagery on the right shows the amygdala is less activated after eight weeks of meditation training.

Not only that, meditation may also help manage symptoms of certain medical conditions, such as asthma, cancer, chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and tension headaches. The National Library of Medicine has found that meditation is associated with decreased pain, helps reduce blood pressure, and even helps with alcohol addiction and other treatments for alcohol use disorder.

If All Else Fails, Nap

Now that most of us are working from home, it can be rather convenient to slip in some nap time, when the going gets tough during the daily grind. 

“Napping is a form of recharging. If you’re tired or mentally drained, and your body’s telling you that it’s too much now, and you need to shut down everything – napping is obviously good, and when you wake up, you feel recharged, because your body heals when it’s in a resting state,” April says. 

“When we’re in our waking consciousness, we’re in the Beta stage, whereas when we’re in a very relaxed state, we’re in the Alpha stage, and that’s when the body heals best,” she continues. “That’s why when we go on a holiday, we feel rejuvenated, and we feel great again, because we’re in a relaxed state. We want to always stay in this stage as much as possible, even in our everyday life.”

While it is known that adults should have 7-9 hours of sleep each night, (8-10 hours for teenagers, 9-11 hours for 6 to 13-year-olds, and 10-13 hours for preschoolers), The Sleep Foundation has also found that napping during the day diminishes homeostatic sleep drive, the technical term for “the feeling of pressure to sleep”.

They explain: “It is synonymous with the hunger we feel for food the longer it is after our last meal. When we wake up from a good night’s sleep, your homeostatic sleep drive is low. The pressure slowly increases throughout the day until bedtime, when we feel sleepy. Sleeping at night decreases sleep pressure, and then the cycle begins again the next day.”

That being said, we should also be careful not to “overnap”, as we might be prone to sleep inertia (the feeling of grogginess and disorientation after waking up from a nap), and sleeping problems at night, especially for those experiencing insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. Not to mention, missing out on an important video meeting with the higher-ups!

So, if you’re planning to take a break from the everyday hustle by napping, make sure you keep them to only 10 to 20 minutes, and before 3PM; napping any longer or later than the aforementioned may interfere with nighttime sleep. As we all know, insufficient sleep at night can lead to more serious repercussions, such as short attention lapses, reduced cognition, delayed reactions and mood shifts.

3 Simple Yoga Poses to Help Counter the Sedentary Lifestyle in the Digital Age

3 Simple Yoga Poses to Help Counter the Sedentary Lifestyle in the Digital Age

Words by Celeste Goh

Malaysia is currently in the midst of its second imposed Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), in its effort to combat the rising COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic. Most schools and offices remain closed to encourage students and employees to practise social distancing and stop the potential spread of the virus, as recreational parks and sports centres have shut down under governmental order to have people stay at home. 

After close to nine months of self-quarantine at home, you may begin to feel aches and pains on your body that you may not experience before. Once, we were allowed the time for lunch breaks and recess outside of the office and classrooms, as well as the weekly workout sessions at the gym and strolls in the neighbourhood park. Now, they are replaced with unchecked long hours in front of your computer, whether it’s for work, for school, or for leisure – part and parcel of the “new normal” we are forced into, although not one that we should get used to.

“When I was in publishing, I would work long hours. I’d be in front of the computer working 12 hours a day, go home, and then come back the next day, and do the same thing – there was zero work life balance,” shares April Kuan, a yoga instructor who was a magazine editor in her past life. “At that time, you didn’t think about anything else: this is part and parcel of life, and that was it, just chasing the career and the money.”

“Nowadays, I can’t even look at my phone too long, never mind sitting in front of my computer for too long. While I’m on Facebook and Instagram, I only post very rarely, maybe once or twice a week, at most, twice a week,” she adds. “Any more than that, my body will reject the screen time, and I’ll start to get aches and brain fog with sudden headaches.”

Even before the pandemic, we are guilty of spending long hours in front of our computers and lazing on our couch strolling through our mobile devices, which contributes to the distasteful body postures Gerard Malanga, MD of Spine Universe calls the “sitting disease”. According to a 2012 study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, as many as 70% of people spend 6 or more hours each day sitting down; and the impact of this level of inactivity often leads to neck, shoulder and back pain, which about 1 in 4 adults has experienced at least for a day during a 3-month period.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that there is a 65.3% overall prevalence of incorrect posture in children and adolescents; with the girls and students over the age of 10 having a higher prevalence of incorrect posture than boys and students under the age of 10. Nearly 80% of children and adolescents were reported to have at least one sign of incorrect postures, with less than a fifth of them having a correct body posture.

April shares: “I teach private yoga classes with a friend of mine, and she has two kids. Her 14-year-old daughter has very bad Scoliosis; it’s the curvature of the spine, and it’s super rounded. She’s been like this since young, and when you’re always looking down at your phone, the next thing you know, your back is used to the roundedness, and it’s very tough to keep it straight anymore.”

“While the daughter is all about Instagram and Tik Tok, her 6-year-old son is about gaming, so he’s always on his iPad playing games,” she continues. “When we want to do family yoga with the children, the son just doesn’t want to. He’d start acting up, and throwing tantrums, because we’re pulling him away from his iPad.”

For adults, years of unchecked slouching can already wear away your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury; imagine the long-term repercussions it will have for children and adolescents, whose physical bodies have yet to settle and are still growing!

Children and adolescents are susceptible to postural alignments that deviate from a good neutral posture, such as Kyphosis, Lordosis, sway back and flat back postures. If not straightened out, they will be more prone to cardiovascular disease, certain cancers (breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and epithelial ovarian), and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Moreover, an extremely hunched posture, or hyperkyphosis, affects up to two-thirds of senior women and half of senior men. Such postural alignment, if not treated, has been associated with back pain, weakness and trouble breathing; and more serious cases can limit everyday activities, like brushing your hair and dressing yourself.

“One way to improve your posture is to be aware of it in the first place. It’s important to take a look at your posture before it becomes a problem,” says Dr. Cris Zampieri, physical therapist at News in Health. “Yoga, tai chi and other types of classes that focus on body awareness and mindfulness can help you learn to feel what’s wrong in your own posture.”

So, we have sought after yoga instructor April Kuan’s advice for some simple yoga poses to help counter the sedentary lifestyle that is prone to the “sitting disease – especially at a time when we are not allowed to head to the gym and parks for our regular exercises, but also something that we can practise at home, even after the pandemic has passed.

what they recommend is six times a week, and then rest one day. But, I think for me, for normal people, three times a week is good enough to see changes in your body. Obviously, the more you practise something, the better you are at it. So, it’s the same with any kind of exercise. You see that changes faster.

“When you’re age 7 onwards is the best time to start yoga. It’s like when parents send their kids to ballet at a young age, and they’re flexible their whole life – it’s the same thing with yoga,” says April, who also thinks that practising yoga three times a week is already good enough to see changes in your body. “It’s also never too late to start yoga, even if you’re 55. I mean, I started when I was in my late 30s!”

Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)

“Spending much of your day in a seated position can leave your spine sore, stiff, and in pain,” notes Gerard Malanga, MD of Spine Universe. “That’s because too much sitting, while it may be relaxing, puts stress on the muscles and discs of your back and neck.”

April adds that “sitting up straight for long hours is not easy – it’s very tiring. You start to get a backache, and you start to round your spine after you feel tired holding your body up.”

Slouching can cause the spinal ligaments to stretch beyond their healthy limit, and poor posture can strain your spinal discs,” Malanga also adds. “This often results in increased strain of the outer annulus of the disc and can increase disc bulging and disc pressures.”

The Cat-Cow Pose is a very basic yoga pose regular yogi does for warm up. It’s a spinal articulation move that opens up the chest and gets the spine moving in all directions. Not only that, the Cat-Cow Pose builds confidence, which affects one’s mental health, as Drs Zampieri states that “someone with depression may appear more closed in, curved, and tend to look down.”

“The energy centre comes from the heart, and it releases dopamine that makes you feel happier,” April says. “So, any pose that opens up the chest will in turn open up the heart, creating a more joyful and positive feeling.”

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana)

When we get tired of holding our body up while sitting, we may find ourselves leaning against the back of the chair, but before we know it, hours have passed as we stay in that presumably comfortable position, and we have slid further down the chair. We will have developed a posterior tilt unwittingly, whereby the front of the pelvis rises, and the back of the pelvis drops, creating a kind of scooped body posture.

“Such a body posture contributes to lower back pain, and a lot of people [with a desk job] suffer from that,” April says. “Lower back pain happens when we don’t have enough core strength to pull ourselves up and sit straight.”

The Bridge Pose is really good for lower back issues, as it helps lengthen the front body, and also the back body. Those who already suffer lower back issues, but may or not be aware of it, maye have trouble performing this pose. But April suggests a restorative pose in which the lower back is supported with piled up pillows while you stay in the Bridge Pose. Whereas for the ones with a healthier lower back may opt to move up and down while in the Bridge Pose.

Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

Another part of the body that has suffered due to the “sitting disease” is the hip flexors, the muscles near the top of your thighs that are key in the movement of the lower body. 

“The [sitting] position results in tightness of your hip flexors, such as the iliopsoas muscle, and pressure and ischemia (restricted blood flow) of your buttock muscles – the gluteus maximus. This muscle is an important supporter of the spine,” Malanga notes. 

In more layman terms, April mentions: “The front thigh muscles shorten and your hips start to get tight when you sit for long periods, and you want to counter that by doing yoga poses that stretch the legs to the back, so it lengthens the front thigh muscles, and also get the quads and hip flexors working.

The Pigeon Pose does just that, as it opens up the knees and hips, and helps lose the tightness in your hips, which contribute to lower back issues.