Finding ways to introduce exercise into your workday can be tricky, particularly when you have a desk job, but there are ways to make it work! There are a number of yoga poses that help you re-oxygenate your blood, stretch your muscles, and realign your body, right at your desk. Doing a few poses at your desk gives your brain a break and reinvigorates you so you can work smarter and more effectively.
- Begin with High Alter Pose, a simple stretch for your arms and core. This pose is especially beneficial for anyone who sits for long periods or tends to slouch at their desk. Sit on the edge of your chair and begin with a deep inhale, lifting your arms over your head. Clasp your hands together and turn your palms toward the ceiling, sitting up tall and straight. Lean to your left, keeping your belly button pulled in toward your spine and your shoulders square with your hips. Hold here for at least five deep breaths, breathing into the stretch and lengthening your right side without collapsing into your left side. Switch sides.
- Stretch your arms, legs, and back and open your shoulders and hip flexors with Seated Eagle Pose, a variation that allows you to do the pose from your desk chair. First, sit up straight, then cross your left leg over your right leg. If possible, wrap your left foot around the back of your right calf, bringing your toes all the way to the left side of your calf if you can. Lift both arms to the sides, parallel to the floor, then swing your left arm under your right, bending your elbows and bringing your palms to touch in prayer position if you can. Keep your elbows lifted, back straight, belly button pulling toward your spine, and allow your shoulder blades to slide down toward your seat. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and breath through the stretch for five breaths. Repeat on the other side, switching legs and bringing your right arm under your left.
- If you practice yoga you know that Uttanasana, or Forward Bending Pose, is a commonly repeated pose in most yoga practices. This pose brings your head below your heart, allowing blood to rush to your head and providing a revitalizing increase of oxygenated blood to your cells. It stretches your back, strengthens your thighs, and provides calming, tension-relieving benefits. Begin toward the front of your chair with feet hip width apart on the floor and your hands on your hips. On your exhale, draw your belly in and bend forward over your legs, until your belly rests on your thighs. Let go of your hips and allow your hands to rest on the floor, letting your head hang heavy so it’s below your heart. On your inhale, straighten your back, raising your arms over your head so they’re parallel to the ground, and keep a straight back while rotating at the hip joints until you’re in an upright seated position again. Repeat five times, moving with your breath.
- Move from your final forward bend into Extended Side Angle Pose to relieve stiffness in your shoulders and back and work your core muscles. Place your right fingertips on the floor outside your right foot and open your chest as you twist to the left on your inhale, lifting your left arm straight up toward the ceiling and gazing up toward your fingertips. Hold here, lengthening between your fingertips apart as though trying to stretch a rubber band, and lifting from your core so you’re not resting on your thighs and there’s no weight on your bottom fingertips. On the exhale, bring your left arm down so you’re back in a forward bend, and on your next inhale, lift your right arm to complete the other side.
- To combat neck pain, try Ear to Shoulder Pose, which loosens up lateral neck movement as well as stretching the trapezius and shoulder muscles. Start looking forward with a straight back and arms relaxed at your sides. Inhale and, with your exhale, bring your left ear down evenly toward your left shoulder, avoiding tipping your head forward or back. Remain there for two breath cycles, keeping your spine straight and deepening the stretch by flexing your right hand so it’s parallel to the floor. Inhale, bringing your head back to center and repeat on the other side. Repeat this pose five times, or if you’re particularly stiff, up to ten times.
These five yoga poses will help you maintain stronger muscles while keeping your mind calmer and clearer, even if you spend the majority of your inside a cubicle. Don’t let a desk job keep you from your yoga practice!