It’s no surprise that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day isn’t healthy. We try to get up and walk around the office every few hours or set our computer monitors up on books to decrease neck strain, but in most cases we still suffer from the aches and pains that come with desk jobs. If you’re struggling with issues such as back and shoulder pain, tight hips or “tech neck” check out these 10 awesome yoga poses you can do at your desk.
- Shoulder Rolls– Remember these from P.E. in grade school? Turns out, they’re fantastic for releasing tension in the shoulders and upper back in the work place.
How to do it: Sit tall in your chair and (inhale) lift one shoulder up to your ear, (exhale) roll your shoulder back and down. Do three or four shoulder rolls on one side and then move to the opposite side. To finish this exercise inhale both shoulders up to your ears and exhale to relax them back down.
- Neck Stretch– Once you’ve been staring at a screen for a while, your neck might start to ache. Try this to stretch out those cramped muscles.
How to do it: Sit tall in your chair, aligning your head over your spine. Drop your left ear down to your shoulder, pressing down with your left hand if you need more of a stretch. Make sure not to lift your shoulder for this exercise. Hold this pose for a few seconds before switching sides.
Bonus Stretch: If you liked the Neck Stretch, try adding a few rolls in to further loosen your neck muscles. Close your eyes and drop your chin to your chest. Slowly roll your head around (shoulder, looking up, shoulder, looking down). Make sure to keep your shoulders loose and to switch directions after five or so times around.
- Open Chest Stretch– I am absolutely in love with this one. It helps to release any tightness in the middle back and chest as well as decreasing rounded shoulders.
How to do it: Sit on the edge of your chair and interlace your fingers behind you (palms facing your body). Lean forward, lift your arms and rest them on the back of your chair. As you inhale lift your chest. As you exhale relax your shoulders down. If your chair is too tall for your arms to rest on the back, hold on to the sides as far up as you’re comfortable with.
- Seated Twist– Practically every office yoga article you come across will list this exercise. It’s great for quick relief for your achy back from hunching and sitting for too long.
How to do it: Sit tall in your chair, inhale, and on the exhale twist to the side. Use your chair’s armrest or back for support. Hold for a few seconds and twist to the opposite side. One great piece of advice I read was to focus on twisting from the bottom of your spine, focus on using your abs rather than your back.
- Wrist Stretch: Tasks such as writing and typing builds tension in your hands, fingers and wrists. I’ve seen these recommended as a break for every two hours you spend typing.
How to do it: Reach your arms out to the sides and circle your wrists forward five times then backwards. Once you’ve done that spread your fingers out, making your hands as big as possible then make a fist, repeat five or more times.
Bonus Stretch: Move back from your computer and stretch your arms out in front of you, gently pull your hand to bend your wrist in both directions (fingertips toward the top of your arm and then the inside of your wrist).
- Shoulder Opener: This is great for pushing your shoulders back into alignment and fighting the hunch back we get when we’ve been sitting at a desk and typing for too long.
How to do it: Push your chair back far enough that your hands are the only thing that can reach your desk. Brace them on the desk and lower your head between your arms.
- Hip Opener:
How to do it: Place your left ankle on top of your right knee, flexing your foot and pressing the inside of your foot away from your body. Fold forward. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths. For a deeper stretch try to brush your fingers along the ground. Make sure to stretch on both sides.
- Hamstring Stretch: Being at the front desk, this one isn’t one I’ve tried at my desk, but it is one to keep in mind if you have tight hamstrings.
How to Do it: Sit close to the edge of your chair and place your heel on the surface of your desk (another chair, or open, sturdy drawer will work too if your desk isn’t at a comfortable height). Flex your foot back. Breath in to lengthen the spine, breathe out and fold forward. You might find that just sitting with your foot up is plenty of a stretch. That’s okay! Just do whatever feels best to you.
- Seated Crescent Moon Pose: One part of our body that we tend to neglect with office yoga is our sides. When you’re going through your office yoga give them a little love with this easy stretch.
How do to it: Sit straight in your chair and bring your arms together above your head. Lean to the right (holding for 5 or so seconds) and then to the left.
10. Seated Forward Bend: This one is really great if you ever need to take a moment to de-stress.
How to do it: Push your chair back from your desk and keep your feet flat on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your back and hinge forward at the waist, resting your chest on your thighs and relaxing your neck. Pull your hands up away from your back.
These stretches take some getting used to and you can tweak them to make them work for you. I had to adjust the height of my desk chair a couple of times to make the poses more comfortable. However, it’s amazing how after just a few of these stretches your body will feel more relaxed and comfortable, which will help you bring down your stress levels and boost your energy.