Office Break: Performing Yoga at Your Desk
With advances in technology, there is less of a need to move around the office these days. As a result, modern office workers are becoming more and more sedentary. This can seem like a good thing, especially for work efficiency. However, this efficiency comes at a price.
Sitting down all day is not great for our
bodies. Constant sitting can actually impact our posture and our bone health.
The longer you sit, the more pressure is put on your spinal cord, hips, and
chest, especially if you have improper posture. Joints and muscles can become stiff. In the short and long term, this can lead to pain and soreness in your body.
Sedentary time is known to be associated with poor health, even mortality, and office work is characterized by long periods of sedentary time.
As some companies have started to integrate forms of physical activity into workplace environments, what if your place of employment does not? The answer is that you need to implement it on your own. It is known that "structured on-site programs can improve health in both active and inactive employees".
We all want to feel good and prevent unwarranted aches and pains. With a little bit of stretching, or activity, like doing yoga at your desk, you may just be able to change how your body feels during, and after work. Desk yoga is convenient, simple, and perfect for the office. In this post, we have compiled some simple, but effective poses to help you get through your day, pain-free. We compiled these yoga poses because they require little amount of space and even a beginner "yogi" can execute them to some degree.
Related Article: The Quick & Easy: 10-Minute Chair Routine to Get Your Day Started!
Yoga Poses You Can do at Your Work Desk
1. Seated Twist
The seated twist is one of simpler postures you can try at, or around your desk. You can do this both in your chair or on a mat and is a perfect beginner yoga pose. A wonderful aspect of this pose is that with the support of the chair you can hold the position for longer periods of time.
With a quick ten to thirty-second twist, you can help to stretch and realign your spine and reduce some tension in your back, This yoga posture engages your spine, upper, middle and lower back, hips, neck and arms. To do this yoga desk pose, start by sitting at your desk.
Take hold of the back of your chair (or perform this on a yoga mat in your office), and put your other hand on your knee. Twist your back to one side, the side closest to the hand on your knee. Alternatively, use your hand(s) to grab a hold of the chair pulling yourself into a deeper stretch. Remember to breath, inhale as you begin to get into position, exhale and twist.
Then, alternate sides in which you're twisting after a brief hold. Practiced daily, you will notice more sustained holds, and more flexibility in your back.
This positing is useful at giving you a mid to lower back stretch. During this time, you can also rotate your neck slowly from side to side to release tension in this region as well.
2. Seated Back-bend
Another beginner yoga maneuver that can be done in a seated posture, is the seated back-bend. This back-bend provides another option for you to stretch your entire back, and can also be part of a restorative yoga sequence. It can benefit your upper back, neck, chest, and shoulders. You can also add alternative forms of the back-bend to include more arm yoga maneuvers like eagle arms.
It is also one of the most covert poses you can do at your desk. So, if you're shy about doing yoga in the office, this just may be a great pose!
All you need to do is hold the bottom of your chair or your knees, inhale and begin to slowly arch your back, breathe. You can arch your back as deep as you want, do what is comfortable for your body.
Hold this posture for at least thirty seconds, then release.
You can do this pose throughout your workday, or you can do this before you leave the office as a warm up for other more intricate asanas you may want to perform later. It's a great starter pose.
Related Article: A Reference Guide To The Most Popular Chair Yoga Postures & Poses
3. Shoulder Rolls
Shoulder rolls are helpful, especially for muscle tension that builds up over the course of the day, and is an easy beginner asana that can be done right in your office chair. When you're hunched over your desk all day, it's easy to develop pain, soreness or stiffness in your shoulders. A little consistency with doing seated shoulder rolls may just help relive some of that unwanted tension.
Sit upright in your desk chair, and slowly roll your shoulders. Roll them backwards for thirty seconds and then roll them in the other direction for another thirty seconds. Don’t rush, really allow yourself to feel the tension slide off this area of your body, as you inhale and exhale, concentrating on your breath.
4. Stork Pose Chair
Your back is certainly not the only area you might be feeling some tension. Your legs can also get cramped and stiff from sitting all day at work. The stork pose is great if you want to get a good stretch to your thighs, arms, wrists, glutes, hips and even your ankles. This type of yoga helps with strength, stretch and balance.
The stork pose may also give you a reason to get up out of your chair and do a combination of maneuvers or sequences. This pose can be done with, or without a chair.
Position yourself beside your chair. Place one of your hands
on the back of your chair, then try to stand straight and tall. Next, lift your right leg
up in a bent position and your right arm up at the same time (toward the sky). Your knee should form a 90 degree angle and be level with your hips. You can also perform this posture without a chair, and lift both arms up at the same time. Exhale, lower your arm(s) and alternate legs.
Make sure to focus on one point in the room to help with your balance, breath in and out slowly, pulling our hands toward the center, relaxing your shoulders
5. Upward Dog
Upward dog pose is a full body stretch and activates different areas of your body. Muscles involved include your arms, shoulders, back, hips, core, feet, legs, and chest.
You may have to move your desk chair out of the way to get into this pose properly. You can do this on the ground (with a mat, like pictures above) or a variation, using your desk for support. We'll focus on upward dog featuring the support from your desk. Once your chair is moved, face your desk and then lean down on it. with your palms. Both your hands should be out in front of you. This will help support your body weight.
Once you're lowered over your desk, walk your feet back about a foot. Leaning on your toes, move your pelvis forward, slowly arch your back. Try to create a smooth angle with your body, stretching your neck back and nose positioned toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, inhaling and exhaling slowly. This will relax you and help you bend more deeply into the upward dog position.
6. Crescent Moon Pose
The final yoga posture at your desk we'll talk about is the crescent moon pose. This is a simple seated yoga pose that will help open up your chest, straighten up your spine, and help to stretch your shoulders, arms and wrists. To get into a crescent moon pose, make sure that you are seated firmly in your chair, with good posture, straightening up your back. Then reach both arms in the air and upward.
Put your palms together, then slowly lean over to one-side of your body. Hold your position, then lean to the other side. Repeat this as many times as you want.
Hopefully, with some of the poses we've listed, you can find a little bit of peace, even at the office ; )
Your co-workers might not get it at first, but when they see you in a more energetic and relaxed state, maybe they'll just end up joining you for a little desk yoga!
Make sure to share some of your favorite "stealth" yoga maneuvers and stretches your do at work in the comments section of our blog!