The Yoga Ball: More Than Just A Thing To Sit On At Work

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Even the mayor of Portland love yoga balls!

This past winter I decided to ditch my gym membership, for better or worse (it was for worse). I just didn’t have time anymore, and I thought it would be nice to bank an extra $40 each month. Oh, and also, I absolutely detest the gym. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain my figure by eating Newman’s Own chocolate bars while watching Modern Family on the couch. I had to find a way to supplement my workouts, but how?

It came to me one day while I was bouncing away on my yoga ball in my cubicle: if I can work my core right here at my desk, I wonder what the ball can do for me at home. Well, it turns out that the yoga ball offers a variety of ways to challenge every muscle in your body. And it’s cheap. Really cheap. Over the course of a few months, I tried many different exercises with the ball, and I want to share the most successful ones with you.

1. Begging for a Raise: This exercise should come naturally to every broke-ass out there. First, find a place to kneel that will be easy on your knees. An area rug or a yoga mat will do just fine. With your back straight and your legs bent at a 90 degree angle, start out with your hands resting on the ball, about shoulder width apart. Then, slowly roll the ball forward until the weight of your body is resting on your forearms. Make sure to flex your hips to follow the motion of your body. Keep your butt out of the air; you don’t need the money that badly. Hold the pose for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Do this about ten more times to show your boss that you really want that middle management position. You deserve it, damn it!

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Muscles worked: arms and abdominals

2. The Nine to Five: It’s 7am, and your alarm clock is screaming in your ear. It’s time to spend another day grinding away at your shitty job. Although it’s freezing in your room (you definitely don’t have central heat), you must pull yourself out of bed and go chase that paper. Start the exercise by sitting on the ball, facing a wall. Roll your body down so that the arch of your back is supported. Keep your toes pressed against the wall so your feet don’t slip. Then, just like a sit-up, touch your hands to your temples and curl your upper body forward. Hold yourself there for a moment before returning to the start position. You’ll be repeating this exercise about ten more times but continuing the routine for another 40 years. Sorry.

Muscles worked: abdominals

We're not worthy!

3. The Schwing: At least one thing’s still free in this crazy world (wink, nudge). Well, it’s free for most of us; some still pay for it. Anyway! Start this exercise by laying on your back on the floor. With your arms by your side, bend your knees on top of the ball, like this. Then, just like Wayne and Garth, lift your hips off of the floor until your back is straight. Hold that “Schwing!” for a couple of seconds before returning to the start position. And then do it again and again and again, about ten more times.

Muscles worked: the butt

4. Squeeze the Toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine can be expensive, but it’s so worth it. That’s why when you reach the end of the tube, it’s crucial to extract the remnants using any means necessary. In this exercise, imagine that you have one more use left in the tube. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place the ball between your knees and squeeze. Hold the squeeze for up to ten seconds, release, and repeat about ten more times. And get your roommate to buy more toothpaste tomorrow.

Muscles worked: inner thighs

Find a penny, pick it up. You probably won't have good luck.

5. The Penny Pincher: Excuse me, you dropped something there. Oh, it’s just a penny? And you don’t want it? Score! This exercise celebrates the cheapskate in all of us and really gets your pulse going. Stand with the ball pressed between your lower back and the wall. Take one step forward so that you’re leaning ever so slightly on the ball. Then, with your arms extended out in front of you, squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. The ball will naturally roll up your back. Pause while you’re in the squatting position, glance around for loose change, and then return to the start. Repeat this ten more times, or however long it takes to find beer money down there. Maybe one day you’ll find a quarter.

Muscles worked: quadriceps

Thanks to Nau, Julia Segal of Skull Swap, and Markus Hartel for the pics.

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Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler

Mia is a nice Italian girl from an exotic Italian colony called New Jersey.  She studied English Literature and Screenwriting at Drexel University in Philadelphia and has no intention of ever being a teacher.  Instead, she produces low-budget films with her crew/friends, one of which actually won a contest hosted by AMC and judged by Mr. Robert (Rob) Zombie.  She currently lives and loves in beautiful Oakland, California, which, she maintains, is just as great as and even sunnier than San Francisco.


  1. Stef
    March 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    As a new dad I can attest to another use…hold the crying baby, sit on the ball, and bounce. It’s the quiet switch.

    • Mia Di Pasquale - Scroungy Scribbler
      Mia Di Pasquale
      March 25, 2011 at 4:56 am

      Holding the baby will strengthen your arms, and the added weight will probably tone your thighs. Trouble is, I don’t think babies come with most yoga balls. I think you lucked out, Stef.