Take a look at the app store, and you’ll see a ton of yoga apps. Apps for all sorts of styles, techniques, and abilities. Salute The Desk is like none of them. Salute The Desk is a fairly new iOS app that helps the student embrace yoga while at their desk. This is ideal for office workers, like myself.
“Just about everyone I know who spends time staring at a screen complains about their posture, sore back, and tight shoulders,” explained the app’s designer Fiona Patterson. “I felt there was a genuine need to help others incorporate some desk yoga into their day!
“The training and teaching that I have done makes you pretty aware of how other people hold themselves in the office. Through my corporate yoga sessions lots of people actually asked me to make an app, and it was one of those things that seemed worth doing.”
Fiona has been teaching tai chi and qigong for about 8 years, and yoga for 3 years, after she received her 500 hour yoga teacher diploma in 2011. She began studying yoga in the Kundalini tradition about 10 years ago, although like most of us, she has explored many different yoga traditions.
Salute The Desk hit the app store May 2014, and took over a year to develop. Every element, every function, is polished and professional.
The colour scheme is gender neutral and was chosen so the app would appeal to both men and women. The light blues and greys are refreshing, and easy on the eyes. Additionally, the app is a little more artsy than most yoga apps on the market. There is an artistic attribute to each of the sequences which was done to make it as easy as possible for the student to focus on the stretching and meditation without being distracted by the videos.
“We see the app as enabling a user to take a much needed break from the computer,” explained Fiona, “We wanted a really clean and minimalist design so that visually we could transport them to a clear and tranquil mental space.”
The app navigates off four main screens, accessible by swiping. The first swipe screen launches a Sit Tall workshop. “Sit Tall is the foundation for the rest of the program. It is my hope that users begin with this workshop, and repeat it any time they would like to deepen their seated posture awareness,” Fiona said. “The sit tall message is weaved through all of the stretching and relaxation sequences. I wanted to recreate a yoga class feel through the app, where there is comprehensive guidance and body awareness is deepened with each use.”
After Sit Tall, the second screen launches the Salute the Desk sequence. “I wanted to demonstrate that you can do a full body stretching sequence while seated at your desk,” explains Fiona. “The third swipe screen breaks stretches down by body zone (it includes all of the stretches from the Salute the Desk sequence, plus more). You can select from a range of stretches for the head and neck, shoulders, back and spine, hips, ankles and feet as well as arms, wrists and fingers.
“The fourth swipe screen launches the guided relaxations which were designed specifically to help a user add some punctuation to a busy work day.”
Sitting all day is actually really bad for you. Studies show sedentary behaviour is linked to our developing obesity trend in America, cardiovascular diseas, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. To help you remember to stretch and move, there is an alert setting in Salute The Desk that will ding you when you’ve been sitting too long.
“There are good medical reasons to be less sedentary, and to have good posture,” Fiona explained. “Research shows that there are even productivity benefits to practicing mindfulness and taking stretching breaks. However a really simple test of the difference it makes is the way you feel at the end of the day. Many people think that it is tiring holding good posture all day but, in fact, the opposite is true — if you build up a good, natural posture through awareness you actually feel a lot less tired at the end of the day. When we are working, stressed and distracted, you can feel a sense of fragmentation. By practicing mindful stretches throughout the day you take an opportunity to reconnect mind, body and spirit.”
Through the use of the progress screen, you can track your progress. The progress screen offers you a 30 day summary of your practice.
“You can see which body areas you have (and haven’t) been stretching as well as how much meditation time you’ve clocked up. You can share this data with others to inspire a colleague, or to run workplace Salute the Desk challenges,” said Fiona.
“With the app we have two main aims,” Fiona went on, “to train and build good seated posture, and to maintain a less sedentary physical presence when seated. There are lots of different ways people sit, and most people ‘prop’ themselves in a chair, rather than really take the weight down through their legs and into the floor — while keeping the spine and pelvis in good, free alignment.
“The app trains you to gain better awareness of how you sit. All of the movement sequences assist you in creating a ‘total body’ correct sitting posture. The movements also keep you mindful and more aware in general — improved proprioception — like most things, you need to practice a little. The app is designed for use in the office, but that includes practicing the stretches on a chair at home so you can deploy them throughout the day. The reminder function on the app is really useful for an office, reminding you to have a mid-morning or mid-afternoon stretch, and tune in to your seated posture.”
Through simple adjustments in your posture and remembering to take a little yoga break throughout the day, you’ll be enhancing the quality of your life, and reducing some of the stress in your work day.
The app is available in the app store for $3.99.