Standing in the crowded ballroom at a recent Chamber of Commerce mixer, the tall young man in front of me was expounding on his company’s merits. I listened, noticing how his neck was pitched forward, right shoulder slumped. Although there was fire in his eyes, as he clearly loved his work, the rest of his upper body was skewed and tight. His predicament made me want to do some secret stretches but I kept listening and still.

As he finished and I started speaking about my work, teaching drivers, frequent fliers and office workers to do small stretches throughout their day, he transformed.

Slowly he started moving his tight shoulder and working his neck. We kept talking and I smiled as his muscles began to relax a bit. Our connection shifted as he felt the release of tension. He was comfortable with stretching in the middle of the conversation. I mentioned that my shoulders get tight too and reached one arm across my body showing him another shoulder release. Pretty soon we were laughing about how it was so simple and felt great.

I’ve seen this again and again. Once we feel there’s ‘permission’ to move, we do. Why don’t we allow ourselves to check in and stretch whenever we feel the need? Wouldn’t we all be a little happier? Where are you holding tension right now and how can you address it?

Stand and deliver: Too shy to move? I’ve been there. In the midst of a meeting, conference or meal, you may get up to use the toilet. There may be a hesitation, not wanting to disturb your associates, but it’s an accepted action. Yet, in the same situations we don’t give ourselves permission to stretch or move. Taking care of yourself in the moment will help you to be more present and aware, especially once you’re freed from the distraction of pain. If you can’t stretch comfortably where you’re sitting, it may be better to stand and move to the side.

Here’s a few suggestions for secret stretches:

  • Find a wall to lean against.
  • Stretch your back by folding forward slowly.
  • Hang with your head and neck loose.
  • Keep your knees bent slightly
  • Roll back up, pressing your spine into the wall for a slight massage.

Other options: Do a few spinal twists, shoulder rolls and arm swings.

There are many small, targeted and tested stretches on my website, in my classes, books and audio.

Enhancement not replacement: Doing small stretches throughout your day will help you stay energized, to be more productive and make more money! You’ll find it easier to stay on task and may free yourself from that old back pain you notice you stand up after working at the computer for hours. The techniques will not replace a consistent full body cardio and stretching practice, but they’re a way to extend and enhance what else you do to ensure that you can work, travel and enjoy many years of good health.

Copyright 2011, Elaine J. Masters, RYT, Award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga, Flytime Yoga and Officetime Yoga books, audio and classes. More information at: