Does sitting at your desk all day take its toll on your body? If you find your back aching, your shoulders feeling tight, your wrists hurting and your body feeling generally lifeless after a day at the office, you need to introduce office yoga into your work life.
Many studios offer lunchtime yoga classes, but for a lot of workers today, leaving the office, changing, doing a yoga class, eating and then getting back in the swing of work in just an hour seems pretty daunting. So, instead of sacrificing your lunch break, try to incorporate some stretching into your day with these yoga poses you can do at your desk!
Here are some simple office yoga moves to try right in your office that will help ease the soreness of your muscles from sitting hunched over a computer all day.
Office Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk
There are plenty of yoga poses for the office that you can do right in your chair between emails or meetings.
The seated twist position is great to loosen your back and stretch your shoulders, hips and neck.
- Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee, placing your foot on the outside of your left leg.
- Twist (gently) while exhaling, placing your right hand on the floor behind you.
- Inhale while wrapping your left arm around the right leg so it is pressed into your thigh.
Repeat on the opposite side after taking three deep, slow breaths.
A variation of the seated twist is done without even standing up from your desk, so it’s easy to incorporate this office yoga move throughout your day. Simply sit straight up and tall in your office chair. While inhaling, twist to one side and hold your armrest for a few seconds. Then, repeat on the other side.
For a deeper twist, try holding the back of your chair instead. Keep in mind while twisting to twist from the abdomen rather than the back to get the best stretch.
For a generally rejuvenating pose that will also build core and arm strength, try scale pose. It’s great for strengthening your arms, abs, back, shoulder, hips and wrist so you can sit taller and straighter.
- Start on the floor (or try at the edge of your office chair).
- Get in Lotus Pose with your legs crossed and the top of each foot resting on the opposite thigh.
- Place your hands on either side of your legs so they are pressing into the ground.
- Push through your hands and keep your shoulders down while raising your buttocks and legs off of the ground/chair.
This will engage your core and open your shoulders. Hold for a few breaths, slowly lower yourself and then repeat.
Do not do this pose if you have a recent wrist or shoulder injury.
Ankle to Knee
Use ankle to knee to open your leg muscles and bring energy back to your lower body after sitting all day.
- Sit cross-legged with your left ankle on top of your right knee and your right ankle underneath your left knee.
- Flex your heels to stretch your inner thighs and calf muscles.
- Let your left knee release down.
- Lean forward and slide your hands along the floor to really stretch your hips.
Stay for one minute and then change sides.
For an alternative office yoga pose, try it in your chair:
- Sit straight up in your chair and place your left foot on your right knee.
- Allow the left knee to fall open, pressing toward the floor.
- Place your hands on both knees, keep your back straight and lean forward for a deeper stretch.
Hold for a few breaths and then try it on the other side.
Fish Pose or Seated Backbend
Most of us do office yoga without even realizing it when we stretch our backs by reaching to the sky. To properly stretch your back, try one of these poses.
Try fish pose for a traditional exercise (aka if you have a private space to lie down on the ground):
- Start with your legs in Lotus Pose. Or, if you’re new to office yoga, with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Lie on your back.
- Lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, sliding your hands (palms down), below your buttocks.
- Rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands.
- Press your forearms and elbows against the floor.
- Lift your torso and head away from the floor.
- Release your head back onto the floor, making sure not to put too much weight on your head.
(Photo via Bloom Yoga Studio)
Or, do a seated backbend in your chair for a modified office yoga pose that’s about as easy as it gets:
- Sit up straight in your seat and take a large inhale while reaching towards the ceiling with your arms wide.
- Drop your gaze to a point behind you and slowly bend back, beginning from your upper back and chest area.
Hold for a few breaths, release and then repeat.
Wrist Release Extension and Flexion
After typing all day, your wrists probably need some attention. Take a break from typing and focus on your wrists for a few minutes.
- Begin with your right arm in front of you and your hand straight up.
- Use your left hand to pull your right hand towards the top of your arm.
- Do this on both sides, then switch to pull both hands the opposite direction towards you in the same way.
(Image via Daily Mom)
Finally, to really loosen up your wrists and forearms, simply shake your wrists from side to side and up and down.
Cat and Cow
Cat and cow is one of the best poses to open up the shoulders and really stretch the neck and back.
- Begin on your hands and knees in the center of your mat with a straight back.
- To move into cat, push through your hands and round your shoulders to create a scooping shape to your back while lowering your head toward the ground.
- From there, move into cow by rolling your shoulders back and lifting your head to look forward, arching your back in the opposite direction.
Continue these movements several times, moving with your breath.
There’s a reason babies are happy: they don’t have to work! Try this pose to channel the pure joy that babies seem to bring to life.
- Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest.
- Separate your legs so you can hold onto the outside edges of your feet.
- With your arms outside of your legs and holding your feet, relax your body and feel your pressure points opening and relieving themselves.
Gently rock in this position for a few breaths if it feels natural.
Standing Forward Bend
Your basic forward bend has many benefits beyond stretching your legs and hips. It also helps calm stress, reduce fatigue and relieve the headache that comes from staring at a computer all day.
- Stand with your hands on your hips in Tadasana pose.
- Bend forward at the hips while exhaling.
- Bring your finger tips or palms to the floor in front of or beside your feet. Bend at the knees as much as is needed or cross your forearms and hold your elbows while bending.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
To open your shoulders and legs, try a wide-legged forward bend. This variation of a regular forward bend will do wonders.
- Stand wide-legged on your mat with at least a few feet between your feet.
- Turn your toes toward each other slightly.
- Slowly fold at the hips, keeping your legs straight and your spine aligned.
- Drop your head to look behind you while bringing your hands to rest on the floor between your legs.
- Keeping your hips aligned, walk your hands back as close to your toes as you can.
Go as deep into this pose as your body allows and stay for a few breaths.
Downward dog is one of the most common yoga poses, and for good reason. It helps stretch and energize your body and can alleviate head and back pain. It’s also easy to do and very relaxing.
- Start on your hands and knees, making sure your hips are aligned directly over the knees.
- Walk your hands up to be slightly in front of your shoulders.
- Lift your knees away from the floor.
Want a relaxing way to stretch and relieve back and neck pain? Start with child’s pose.
- Begin by sitting on your heels.
- Move your big toes so they are touching together.
- Separate your knees to be as wide as your hips.
- Exhale and stretch to lay your torso down between your thighs, with your arms extended in front of you.
- Rest for anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes.
Next time you’re feeling sore and tight at the office, try these office yoga poses to reenergize and rejuvenate your body and mind. If you do a yoga practice outside of work hours, it can really help to incorporate these poses that will help those areas that need a little extra love from sitting at a desk all day.
Follow or alternate with some of these deskercises to add even more balance to your work-life.
Share your office yoga experiences with us in the comments section and don’t forget to subscribe for more posts to help you live a happy and healthy career life!
Get everything you need to build a career you love by signing up for the newsletter.
Latest posts by Sarah Landrum (see all)
- Sip on This: 13 Water Bottles to Keep You Hydrated at Work - January 18, 2018
- 6 Rules to Stop Overeating When You Work From Home - January 16, 2018
- Your Job Search Value Proposition: How to Find Out What Makes You a Valuable Hire - January 11, 2018