Image via Adobe Stock

Five simple yoga poses you can do at your desk

Leaving your office for an hour-long yoga practice isn’t possible at the moment, but with the following yoga stretches, you will experience relief.


Image via Adobe Stock

When you’re sitting at a desk all day, your body suffers — backaches, stiff neck, and tightness in your hips and shoulders.

You can spend several minutes every day stretching from your desk. A little yoga will reduce stress, promote wakefulness, and clear your mind. When you’re slouched in an office chair for six to eight hours, a lot of pressure is put on your spine. If you implement these yoga stretches into your daily work routine, you will see a major difference, both physically and mentally.

1. Neck Rolls

Sitting at your desk for the majority of the day can cause uncomfortable tension and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Neck rolls will naturally massage your neck, relieving headaches, and improving the mobility of your cervical spine.

Plant both feet on the floor and sit up straight, keeping your spine erect. Relax the muscles in your face and allow your limbs to feel heavy, with each inhalation and exhalation. Drop your chin down to your chest and slowly rotate your head, drawing invisible circles with your nose. Rotate your head clockwise ten times, and then counterclockwise. If you notice one area that is especially tense, move slower to prevent additional strain.

2. Seated Cat and Cow yoga poses

Seated cat and cow are restorative yoga poses, providing your back with general relief. They are also chest openers that benefit your neck and hips.

For seated cow pose: Place your hands (with palms facing down) right above your kneecap while keeping your feet planted on the floor, hip-distance apart. On your inhalations, draw your shoulders back, plunge your heart forward, and roll your tailbone upward. You can use the strength in your arms and hands to assist you in this pose.

For seated cat pose: Your feet and hands will stay in the same position. On your exhalations, tuck your chin and tailbone while arching your lower back.

With each inhale, rotate into cow pose and with each exhale, roll into cat. You can shift from cat and cow pose five to ten times, whenever you have a few moments to do so.

3. Gentle Spinal Twist

Gentle spinal twists improve digestion, alleviate back pain, and relieve the dreaded discomfort of PMS.

Scoot your sit bones toward the middle of your chair and place both feet on the floor, with your knees and feet touching. You can move into a gentle spinal twist by placing your right hand on your left thigh and your left hand behind your back, pressed against the center of your spine. You will want to maintain good posture during this stretch. Gaze over your left shoulder as you lift your chest nice and high, moving into the full twist — holding for three inhales and three exhales.

Repeat on the opposite side. Place your left hand on your right thigh and your right hand behind your back, pressed against your spine. Gazing over your right shoulder, move into the full spinal twist — holding for three inhales and three exhales.

4. Standing Forward Fold

Forward folds will stretch the entire backside of your body, from your head all the way down to your heels. In this pose, your head drops below your heart, promoting relaxation and calmness. Forward folds also open your hips — the part of our body that carries the most tension from daily stressors.

Standing up from your chair, keep your spine straight with your feet together. Take a nice deep inhalation and distribute the weight of your feet evenly onto the floor while you lift your sit bones towards the ceiling and fold your body forward. If you’re able to comfortably keep your knees straight and touch the floor with all five fingers, you can hold in this position for five breaths.

However, don’t push your body too hard. If you’re experiencing any pain, bend your knees. The goal is pain relief, not accidental injuries. Remember, wherever you are in your practice is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

5. Desk Pigeon yoga Pose

Pigeon pose opens your hips, helps reduce lower backaches, and stretches your thighs.

While you’re still standing, you can transition into pigeon pose right at your desk. Lifting your left leg up, you will want to place your shin on your desk, parallel to the edge. Keep your left foot flexed and fold your upper body forward slightly, just enough to feel the stretch in your outer hips and glutes. Walk your hands forward on your desk until they’re both extended as far as they can comfortably go. You might want to walk your hands to the right for several breaths, and then to the left. Repeat on the opposite side.