It doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that spending 8+ hours per day sitting at a desk can be bad for our health, which is why we have created for you these 10 desk yoga poses.
The strains of sitting in your office chair can lead to neck, shoulder and lower back pain through pressure on the lumbar spine, over-stretching of the mid and upper back, and shortening of the chest and hips. However, various yoga techniques can be used to help relieve these tensions and daily stresses that occur at our work stations. Here’s our top 10 desk yoga poses to help you feel more relaxed.
10 Desk Yoga Poses to try
1: Seated Crescent Moon
Begin by lifting your arms overhead, connect the palms and stretch your fingers wide. Gently lean to one side for 2-3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Crescent moon pose gives a deep stretch to your sides, lengthening your spine and allowing you to return to your work with better concentration.
2: Chair Pigeon
Whilst seated, place one leg over the other at a 90-degree angle, flexing the foot so as not to place pressure on the knee. Remain in an upright position, keeping an even distribution on both seat bones. When you feel a gentle to moderate stretch in the upper outer thigh, hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Seated pigeon pose helps us regain the balance we sometimes lose sitting in our desk chairs, whilst opening the hips and chest.
3: Sit and Stand Chair Pose
Begin in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Pressing down with your heels and using your legs and glutes only, make your way to standing. Sit back down slowly, again solely using your leg muscles without shifting the hips from side to side. This pose can help awaken the hamstring and glute muscles that become weakened over time from sitting in a desk chair.
4: Standing Seal Pose
Begin this pose in a standing position, stepping your legs 3-4 feet apart. Inhale the arms behind you, interlacing the fingers together. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and lift the gaze upwards before folding forward at the hips, bringing your arms in front of you. Keep the legs and arms straight, holding the pose for 4-8 breaths. To release the pose, squeeze the shoulder blades together as you inhale back to an upright position. Exhale to release the arms.
The standing seal pose stretches both the spine and legs, opening the shoulders. It also harmonises the connection between the heart and mind, improving mental function. This is our favourite of the 10 desk yoga poses.
5: Wrist and Finger Stretches
Begin by extending your arms overhead and drawing 5-10 circles inwards and outwards with the wrists. Follow this by quickly spreading the fingers and closing the fists, releasing excess tension. Finally, place your arms in front of you, with your palms facing upwards. Gently apply a downward pressure on each palm to stretch the wrist on each side. Switch the palms to face downward for a counter-stretch of the forearms. Hold each stretch for 5-10 breaths.
Working at a desk can build up tension in the fingers, hands and wrists, so these exercises should be done often throughout the day to increase the blood flow.
6: Desk Chaturanga
Begin in a standing position for this pose. Place your hands roughly shoulder-width apart on the edge of a sturdy desk, then walk the feet back until your chest is a diagonal line to the floor. Inhale as you lower into Chaturanga, hugging the elbows to the ribs as they reach the 90-degree angle. Exhale as you press back up to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times to awaken your arm muscles, whilst helping the muscles around your neck relax.
7: Desk Upward Dog
Begin in the same position as with the desk Chaturanga pose. Keeping the arms straight, lean your hips towards the desk, opening the chest as you do so. Keep the legs engaged to prevent the lower back from sinking. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. To release, keep the core engaged and exhale as you fold at the hips, creating a 90-degree angle.
This pose helps open the chest and lengthen the spine, improving your posture.
8: Eagle Arms
Sit erect and place your arms at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Cross one arm over the other, interlocking them and placing your palms together. Lift your elbows and stretch your fingers upwards. Stay in this pose for 3-5 breaths before switching sides. You can add to the pose by crossing the legs and interlocking one foot behind the other.
Eagle pose is a good preventative for carpal tunnel syndrome. It also strengthens the triceps, back and shoulder muscles.
9: Seated Twist
Whilst seated, place your hands on the arms of the back of your chair, gently twisting your chest and abdomen to one side. Hold for 4-5 breaths, before repeating on the other side.
Twists and great for detoxifying, lengthening the spine and massaging your abdominals and obliques.
10: Restorative Pose
With the daily stresses that life offers, it’s important to restore your mind and ground yourself. Place your feet flat on the floor and cross your arms onto your desk. Lay your forehead head onto your arms and breathe deeply for up to 5 minutes. Allowing yourself to unwind means you can continue your workday with newfound energy.
We hope you can now return to work feeling energised and restored after trying these 10 desk yoga poses. If you are still feeling stressed after trying these poses, maybe it is something else.