It’s no secret that sitting at a desk all day can wreak havoc on our bodies as well as our mental wellbeing. Slouching over your computer will cause back, neck, spine and even leg pain. So, how can you overcome it? A few simple yoga stretches will do the trick!
You don’t need to spend hours practicing a routine or spending hundreds to attend fancy yoga classes. Instead, you can simply incorporate the 10 stretches listed below into your daily routine. Even if it’s a quick stretch by your desk!
Here are 10 easy yoga poses to follow.
1. Desk chaturanga pose
Hate normal push-ups? Me too! The desk chaturanga makes push ups super easy with the desk supporting most of your weight. To build some upper body strength, rest your hands on your desk (shoulder width apart) and step your feet back so that you’re in a diagonal push up position. Once you have the correct form, inhale and you push yourself in towards the desk and pull your elbows towards your ribs. Exhale as you press your chest back up to your starting position. Repeat this 10–15 times and do as many repetitions as you want spaced throughout the day.
2. Seated crescent moon pose
The moon crescent is a great stretch to lengthen and release some side and shoulder tension, and it’s a perfect pose to perform in the office. With your feet firm on the ground, sat at a 90-degree angle, raise your arms above your head and clasp your palms together. Inhale and move your arms and upper body to one side. Enjoy the stretch for a few seconds before exhaling and returning back to your starting position. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 10 times on each side and carry out this desk exercise as often as you need to in order to relieve some stress.
3. Desk upward dog pose
Even if you’re not a regular yoga goer, you’ve most likely heard of the downward dog pose — well, the upper dog pose is this in reserve. It’s a great way to open your chest and shoulders. Start by standing at a 45-degree angle with your hands touching your desk, your arms lengthened and your legs straight, without arching your back. Slowly slide your head and body up so you are now reaching and lengthening your arms, back and shoulders upwards. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths and release back to your starting position. Repeat as many times as you like.
4. Chair pigeon pose
As we sit down for long hours at a stretch, we tend to place more pressure on one side of our body, which is why the chair pigeon pose is a great exercise to loosen the hip muscles and restore some balance. To perform this pose effectively, sit at a 90-degree angle with your feet firmly on the ground, cross your left leg over your right and keep your foot fully flexed. Pull your left knee in towards you slightly so that you can feel a stretch towards the outer part of your thigh. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side for at least five repetitions.
5. Seated figure four pose
This pose is also essential to release tension around your hip joints — something that happens to anyone with a desk job. The form of this pose is the same as the above; sat at a 90-degree angle with one ankle over the opposite knee. But unlike the chair pigeon pose, you will rest your hand on the raised knee to push it downwards and open your hip flexor muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Perform this pose as regularly as you need to avoid permanent hip injury.
6. Stork pose
When performing the stork pose, think of yourself as a tree that needs to elongate its roots — well, in your case, limbs. To perform this pose, stand by your chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Raise one knee up and pull your leg into your body by grasping your leg (just under your knee) and hold this pose for 10–15 seconds. If you can’t balance on your own, start off by holding onto the chair with your free hand. After performing this pose for a while, you should start to build better core stamina that will help you hold a better posture while you sit.
7. Desk eagle arms pose
This beginner level yoga pose is great for anyone who works a desk job to strengthen their back, neck and shoulder muscles. To perform this exercise, sit at a 90-degree angle and raise your arms towards your face, cross your arms and interlock your palms. Hold for 5–10 seconds and repeat the sequence by swapping the crossed arm. This stretch may seem hard to achieve at the beginning, but once you repeat it a few times, it should be easier to interlock your palms and stretch out your fingers in the process.
8. Seated twist pose
The twist pose is a common exercise that’s performed during any cool down routine, so you may already be familiar with it. It’s intended to open up your back and stretch your obliques, entire back and shoulders to release any tension. So that you aren’t getting onto the floor (and receiving weird looks in the office) we’ve adapted this so it’s work-friendly. Start by sitting at a 90-degree angle and place your left arm behind your left hip, place your right hand, palm facing up on your left thigh and twist to the left side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the right side, alternating until you feel re-energized.
9. Sit and stand pose
Think of an easier version of the squat when it comes to the sit and stand pose — an exercise needed to build up your glute and upper thigh muscles. To perform this exercise, start by standing in front of your chair (as if you’re about to sit on it). Take a deep breath and raise your arms while you lower yourself in to your chair, exhale and repeat for 15—20 repetitions. Perform this exercise as frequently as you can throughout the day to increase your heart rate, which, in turn, will burn fat.
10. Standing seal pose
The standing seal pose is a great way to complete your daily exercise as it works to stretch your spine, legs and open your shoulders. To perform this exercise, start with your legs hip width apart and interlock your fingers behind your back and start to release into a forward fold position. Take a few deep breaths in and out before you come up to your starting position. Repeat a few times until you feel well stretched and relaxed.
It's no secret that working a desk job is harmful for our health, so to make sure that we stay as active as possible, it’s important to incorporate a few stretches into your daily routine. You don’t have to dedicate hours in the gym, but your body will thank you for stretching it out and releasing some much-needed stress and tension. And to ensure that you actually stick to it, why not make it into an office competition to see who can perform the best yoga poses throughout the day?
Which of these poses do you already practice? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.