All of the RSI-related sites and books I've read have recommended stretching, some recommending yoga specifically. The nice thing about yoga is that it incorporates deep breathing with the stretches (The book It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! RSI Theory and Therapy for Computer Professionals recommends deep, diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing to ensure the upper body stays loose and receives all the oxygen it needs--page 178).
The idea of signing up for a yoga class didn't appeal much to me--I like exercise, but sitting on the floor with a bunch of people in spandex stretching for an hour isn't really my thing--so I decided to check out some of the yoga videos you can do at home. This turned out to be a good choice for me, because a lot of the videos have workouts that can be done in about 20 minutes which is easier to fit in during the day and doesn't involve commuting. A number of the newer yoga videos, those on DVD, have multiple workouts on them so you don't get bored as quickly doing the same routine over and over.
Now, you people that like the yoga classes, all the power to you. I prefer the privacy of my living room. It could have something to do with the fact that I'm not exactly graceful. You know those standard yoga positions? Tree? Cat? Cobra? Well, insert the word "falling" in front of any of them, and that pretty much describes me. Yeah, even Cobra. You wouldn't think you could lose your balance on the ground, but I'm talented.
Anyway, I bought my first yoga videos about nine months ago, and I've been fairly good about doing them at least a couple of times a week. I don't know if yoga can instantly cure you of all your ailments, but I do find taking a break from the computer and doing some of the stretches can help relieve tension in your shoulders and neck. If you're experiencing pain from RSI in your hands/wrists, some of the positions may hurt a bit in the beginning, but most of them can be modified so you don't have to put your full weight on your hands.
Here are a couple of mini reviews of some of the videos I have in my collection:
Reminiscent of the other "for Dummies" stuff, these videos (there's a beginner one and a more advanced one) take things slow with lots of tips and explanations while your stretching. It's good in the beginning, but once I was familiar with the tape, I found the pace to be slower than I liked. If you're going to get one of the Yoga for Dummies videos, go for the two pack that includes both the beginners and the advanced workouts. It's about the same price as buying them separately. For both, the workouts are about 45 minutes.
This is my favorite of the videos I've purchased. It comes with two workouts, one about 15 minutes and one about 25 minutes. The AM one is very relaxed and easy, with most of it down on the ground. The PM one is the longer of the two and a little more challenging, but still fairly basic (If I can do it...). Both workouts move along at a good pace, never leaving you in one position until your mind starts to wonder.
Despite the title, this is the more challenging of the three videos I've mentioned. You really get your money's worth, though. There is something like 36 workouts on the DVD, ranging from 15 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes (for the masochistic types among you). The workouts are divided into categories (i.e. legs, back, shoulders) so you can do whatever you happen to be in the mood for that day.