International Yoga Day is fast approaching, and this week we are celebrating all things yoga. In our fast-paced society it’s often difficult to find time in the day for half an hour of yoga practice. And if you sit at a desk for long amounts of time, you may find that you experience soreness or stiffness in your back, neck, hips or wrists. Simply taking a few moments and stretching at work can be so beneficial, relieving pain, stress and increasing productivity. Here are my six tried-and-tested yoga exercises to practice at your desk.
Stretching at work: 6 yoga exercises to practice at your desk
This is an exercise I regularly practice at work to relieve strains and stretch muscles in my shoulders and neck. It works wonders!
1. If you are wearing heels, take them off for this exercise.
2. Sit up straight, taking your arms off your desk, with your feet flat on the floor.
3. Slowly bring your left ear to your left shoulder to stretch the right side of your neck. Take three long breaths.
4. Carefully roll your head down so that you are looking at your lap. Pause here and take three long breaths.
5. Now slowly bring your head up to the right, so that your right ear is above your right shoulder, stretching the left side of your neck. Take another three breaths.
6. Repeat this exercise three to five times.
Cat cow stretch
Cat cow is something you’ll be familiar with if you practice yoga. It helps stretch the spine, loosens the hips, improves circulation and relieves stress. In this version of cat cow, you are seated at your desk rather than on all fours on the mat.
1. Ensure both feet are flat on the floor and place your hands on your knees.
2. On an inhale, slowly arch your back and stretch your neck backwards, looking up towards the ceiling.
3. On your exhale, slowly round your spine and let your head drop forwards.
4. Repeat this exercise slowly, for three to five breaths.
Seated spinal twist
This exercise is another one that I use for relieving pain and stretching at work. It provides many benefits, including stretching the back and spine and helping the circulatory system and internal organs.
1. Bring both feet flat on the floor and sit up straight, so that your head is in line with your hips.
2. Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh and twist to the left, towards the back of your chair. Hold here and take a long breath.
3. Slowly bring yourself back to centre.
4. Now place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and twist to the right, towards the back of your chair. Again, hold here and take a long breath.
5. Repeat two or three times.
This exercise is great to give your wrists some relief from frantic typing.
1. Seated at your desk, stretch your right arm out in front of you, palm up.
2. With your left hand, stretch the fingers of your right hand down towards the floor. Press your left thumb on the back of your right hand for an extra stretch and hold for three to five seconds.
3. Then repeat with the other hand.
4. You can also extend this exercise and stretch your individual fingers too!
Seated forward fold
I tend to suffer from lower back pain at work, and this is a great exercise for relieving it, as well as stretching the spine and neck, opening the hips and increasing blood flow to the brain.
1. Push your chair back from your desk and ensure your feet are flat on the floor, hip width apart.
2. Bend at the hips, slowly coming forward until your stomach is touching your thighs, letting your head hang loose.
3. Stay here for three long breaths and then slowly come back up to a seated position.
Again, if you practice yoga, you’ll be familiar with pigeon pose. This version can be done seated at your desk and is great for opening the hips, giving a lovely stretch to the thigh muscles.
1. Start by sitting upright in your chair, ensuring your head is in line with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor.
2. Slowly bring your right ankle up to rest it on your left thigh, just above the left knee, helping lift with your hands if need be. (If you have problems with your knees or find this too difficult, you can straighten your left leg and rest your right ankle on any place along the left leg instead.)
3. For an extra stretch, lean forward slightly.
4. Hold here for three to five seconds.
5. Repeat on the other leg.
Do you have any other tips for practicing yoga or stretching at work? We’d love to hear! Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @wearethought
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