Yoga at Work: Seated Yoga, Desk Yoga and After Work Yoga
One proven way to combat the negative effects of sitting in a chair for hours each day is practicing yoga. In celebration of International Yoga Day, we’re sharing a list of 12 of our favorite simple and restorative yoga poses that can be practiced at your desk at work, or on your mat at home!
The benefits can be seen by incorporating deep stretches, twists and other poses into your daily routine to realign the body, release tension, and undo a lot of the damage caused from sitting all day. If you’re strapped for time, or aren’t sure you’re ready to commit to a traditional yoga practice, we hope our list will encourage you to get your body moving throughout the workday!
Yoga Poses To Do At Your Desk
While standing, bring your left shin onto your desk parallel to the edge of the desk. Take a forward bend over your left leg, hinging at your hips. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Seated pigeon pose helps us regain the balance we sometimes lose sitting in our desk chairs, while opening the hips and chest.
White seated, twist your torso toward the left, holding onto the back of the chair, for a spinal twist. Repeat the twist to the right side.
Benefits: Strengthened abdominal muscles helps to prevent slouching and improve posture.
Seated Crescent Moon Pose
Lift your arms overhead, connect your palms and stretch your fingers wide. Gently lean to one side for 2-3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Crescent moon pose gives a deep stretch to your sides, lengthening your spine and allowing you to return to your work with better concentration.
Wrist and Finger Stretch
Extend your arms to the sides or overhead and draw circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, spread your fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension. Alternatively, you may stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counter stretching with your other hand.
Benefits: Relieves tension in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists.
Seated Cat Cow
With both feet on the floor, bring your hands to your knees. On an inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders down and back, bringing your shoulder blades onto your back. On the exhale, round your spine and let your head and shoulders drop forward. Repeat.
Benefits: Stretch the lower spine, hips, back and core muscles. This also opens the chest and lungs allowing for easier breathing.
Standing Forward Fold (with desk)
With both feet flat on the floor, place your elbows on your desk and fold at the waist. Flatten out your back to create an “L” shape with your body.
Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress while stretching the entire backside of the body.
Yoga Poses To Unwind After A Workday
To come into this pose, move into an inverted "V" shape. With your hands outstretched in front of you and your fingers spread wide, lift your hips and ground your feet (at about hips-width apart) into the floor.
Benefits: Helps to lengthen and strengthen muscles in the body, reduces tension in the shoulders and lets a little more blood flow to the brain.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Extend your arms along the floor, palms flat. Lift your hips away from the floor and roll up through the spine. When you’ve lifted your hips as high as possible, either continue pressing your arms into the floor by your sides or interlace your fingers underneath your pelvis and press the outer edges of your arms into the floor.
Benefits: Opens the shoulders and chest, extends the thoracic spine, energizes the muscles of the legs, lengthens the hip flexors, which can become tight after a long day of sitting.
Happy Baby Pose
Lying on your back, draw both knees into your chest. Bring your arms through the inside of your knees and hold onto the outside edge of each foot. Press your heels up and pull back with your arms. For a deep stretch in the hips, let your legs open wider.
Benefits: Accessible even for beginners, but still provides an excellent stretch for the hip joints, which can get stiff from too much sitting.
Start by sitting on the floor. With an exhale, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Drop your knees out to the sides, and clasp your hands around your ankles. Hold for 3 minutes, to really give your hips a stretch.
Benefits: An incredible yoga pose that opens up your hips and lower body. It’s a great way to ease any tightness you may feel from sitting for a long time.
Thread the Needle
Start in a neutral position on all fours, keeping your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Open up your chest to the right as you extend your right arm toward the ceiling. Begin to move your right arm under your chest toward the mat. Your torso will naturally shift downward. Allow your right shoulder to rest on the mat, and rest the right side of your head down. Hold the pose and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: This position stretches the shoulder blades and upper back, which hold you upright and keep your posture intact.
Lay on the ground with your arms bent and place your hands directly under your shoulders, like you are about to do a push up. Then gently straighten your arms, bringing your chest up off the ground.
Benefits: This backbend not only feels good after sitting all day, it also lengthens your spine and opens up your chest and shoulders.
A special thank you to one of our favorite yogis, Charlotte, for her beautiful poses, and to her talented photographer Gus.