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10 Desk Yoga Poses

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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.

posted Aug 19 by Nithin Kumar

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Taking time to stretch and centre yourself as a mother is important to try to fit into your hectic schedule. Yoga has been proven to improve both physical and mental health, which, as we all know are so important in this stressful time of life! Are you struggling to try to find time to fit your practice into your routine? Here are a few poses that can be done in hardly any time, anywhere and they offer some amazing benefits:

1. FORWARD FOLD

Inversions, such as forward folds, are thought to provide the following benefits:

  • Improved circulation
  • Increased immunity
  • Increased energy
  • Increased relaxation
  • Better balance

Forward folds also strengthen and stretch the muscles in the legs, hips, and spine. To protect the lower back, keep your knees slightly bent when doing the pose. It can feel nice to fold halfway over while holding onto a countertop, the back of the couch, or your stroller or grocery cart handles. Focus on keeping the spine straight, rather than rolling your shoulders forward into a “hunch” while bending. To do this, think about pushing your chest towards your thighs if folding fully, or towards the floor, if folding halfway.

2. TREE

Balancing postures, such as tree pose, are great for increasing focus and helping us connect to our breath. If you are feeling off-kilter, use tree pose to centre yourself and drop back into your body.

Yogi Elizabeth Wellington recommends the following approach to tree pose:

"Start with your feet hip-width apart. Take a few deep breaths, and lift your left foot. Rest the bottom of your left foot along your shin, and if you’re comfortable, bring it up to rest on your thigh. Breathe with your eyes fixed on a focal point ahead of you. Switch sides to reap the benefits of this balancing pose."

3. CAT COW

Cat-Cow can be performed on the floor, on all fours, or seated in a chair or on a stability ball. It is a simple sequence where you round your back and press the space between your shoulder blades up if you’re on all fours, or into the back of the chair if you’re seated. Exhale as you round, like a cat. Then, inhaling through the nose, raise your forehead and arch your back, like a cow. Keep your core engaged by tucking your tailbone forward a tiny bit. Flowing with your breath, repeat the sequence several times.

This is a great pose to relieve feelings of anxiety or fear. It is easily performed in a variety of settings, from your desk chair, to the bathroom stall, on your bed, or the floor of your living room. If you are practising yoga in the midst of children, this is a really fun way to engage your kids in the practice. Invite them to moo like a cow and meow like a cat as you move through the sequence!

4. STANDING FIGURE FOUR

This is an easy stretch to perform just about anywhere. I’ve been known to drop into a standing figure four stretch while waiting in checkout lines while standing and talking to a friend at the park while cooking, and just about everywhere else.

To get into this pose, sit back as though you’re dropping into a chair, with knees bent and core strength. Shift your weight into the heels. Then, lift one foot and cross it over the opposite leg, so your ankle is sitting on your thigh. You may have to come up out of your “chair” slightly or depending on your flexibility, you might be able to sit deeper into your chair once you've balanced in your figure four stance.

This posture stretches the legs, hips, calves, and piriformis muscles. Keep your core strong and engaged to avoid angering your lower back muscles. Avoid placing the ankle directly on the knee. If you’ve got a history of knee problems, it might feel better to practice this pose lying down on your back.

5. TOE SQUAT

This simple pose comes from the Yin Yoga practice and helps to open the body’s lower meridians. The six meridians that begin and end in the lower body are the Liver, Gall Bladder, Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Spleen, and Stomach. By simply kneeling, tucking your toes under, and sitting back towards your heels, you can gently release these lower meridians through a toe squat.

Those new to the toe squat may find that sitting back is too uncomfortable at first. Only go back as far as you can without experiencing discomfort, and lean forward resting your hands on a block if need be. It is handy to have something to distract you while in toe squat, because focusing intently on the sensation can intensify discomfort. It’s a great time to get down to your child’s level and engage with them!

Place a blanket under your feet, or perform this pose on a rug or soft surface to minimize pain. You can hold this pose up to two-three minutes, but feel free to take a break, roll your ankles, and drop back in. Enjoy the release of your feet and toes!

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A little over a year ago I began a strength training program. After bilateral hip replacements, and the years of dysfunction that led up to them, I needed to regain strength. I'm now working out with weights at least once a week on my own. It feels good and has improved my strength and agility by miles.

I've begun tweaking my workouts recently to include a longer stretching period after my workout. As I expected, making my cool-down period more like a mini-yoga practice has benefits far beyond simple stretching. After I finish my workout now, my mind is clear, smooth and alert—like after a yoga practice. Who would have thought?

6 Yoga Poses for Cooling Down

Of course, there are lots of yoga poses for cooling down after a weight-training session. What you choose can depend on the focus of your weight training. Below are the poses I’ve found to be helpful. Bring along a yoga mat, a yoga strap and an eyebag, and make sure you approach your practice with an attitude of ease rather than one of aggression. Keep your breathing long, slow and relaxed.

  1. UnwindAdho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) is a great way to begin the unwinding process. Begin your Dog Pose by moving around—twisting, flexing and extending your spine and moving through all your joints. The intention here is to “liquefy” your joints and soft tissues before stretching. Downward Facing Dog Pose is the perfect transition pose for moving into stretching.
  2. Stretch Your Quads: There are a number of ways to stretch the quads. My favorite way is to practice Supta Ardha Virasana (Supine Half Hero’s Pose). However, this pose can be out of reach for people whose knees don’t flex all that far. If this is the case, simply flip over onto your belly. Lie flat on your abdomen and then bend one of your knees. Reach back and grab your foot and draw the foot in toward your body to stretch the quads. You can use your yoga strap if your hand doesn’t reach your foot.
  3. Stretch Your HamstringsSupta Padangusthasana (Supine Big Toe Pose) is a classic way to release hamstring tightness after a workout. Be sure to place a strap around your foot so that you can keep the rest of your body in a supine Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
  4. Stretch Your Outer ThighsSupta Ardha Padmasana (Supine Half Lotus Pose) is a great way to release tension in the glutes and outer thighs. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you draw your legs toward your torso.
  5. TwistJathara Parivrttanasana (Revolved Belly Pose) is a great way to further release tension in the shoulders and core. Be sure to breathe deeply into your abdomen as you relax into the pose.
  6. Let It All Go: As with any asana practice, Savasana (Relaxation Pose) helps smooth out agitation and help you integrate your practice. Give yourself at least 5 minutes. I’ve found 10 minutes to be the minimum amount of time my body needs to benefit from Savasana after a workout. The lights in most gyms and weight rooms are pretty harsh. An eyebag makes a big difference.
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It was when I started to practice at home that my relationship to yoga changed. It went from something that I did in class to an experience that was profoundly personal, and an integral part of the way I lived. At first, I was unsure of what to do and whether I was doing it right, but I soon realized that the uncertainty is part of the process. It was in practicing just for me, without seeking the approval or validation of anyone else, that I fully understood what people mean when that say that it's "your" yoga practice. 

My advice to you is to keep it simple at first and get used to how it feels to practice on your own. Here are seven poses I recommend starting with.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet parallel, either together or hip-width apart. Spread your weight evenly across the soles of your feet and lengthen your spine, as if you’re being pulled up by the crown of your head.  There are few poses more centering and strengthening than mountain pose. For added challenge, close your eyes and feel all the micro-adjustments your body makes just to keep you upright. 

 

2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

From tadasana, bend your knees, taking your hips back and lengthening your tailbone toward the ground. Reach both arms up and overhead. 

In utkatasana, you are cultivating a feeling of reaching up and finding strength and space at the same time as being pushed down and grounded by your lower body. As well as being a powerful lower body strengthener, it is a great place to tune into your own resilience and mental fortitude.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Fold your body forward over your legs, keeping feet hip-width apart. Resist the temptation to shift your hips back, instead keeping weight in the balls of your feet. Scoop your lower belly in and up to find more space and support for the back of your body. 

This can be a powerful and intense stretch for the hamstrings and back. Take it gently, especially at first; and to soften the pose, bend your knees, allowing your torso to rest on your thighs. 

4. Anjaneyasana (Crescent Moon Pose)

Come into a lunge with the front knee bent, knee stacked over ankle, and the back leg straight with knee lifted. Reach the arms up, bringing the palms together and taking your gaze to your thumbs. To go deeper, lengthen the front of your body to arch into a gentle backbend. Hold for five breaths. 

This is a great pose for releasing the abdominal muscles and hip flexors. It helps you to feel more energized and present, and can support you to cultivate feelings of love and gratitude. 

5. Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

From a standing position, reach back with your right hand and lift your right foot, taking hold of the inside of your foot. Reach your left arm up, then press the right foot into your hand to help you to open into a backbend. Allow yourself to pivot forward, reaching the torso and your left arm out in front of you. 

This beautiful pose is a graceful way to open the front of your body, strengthen your legs and improve your balance. If you are struggling, you can loop a belt around your foot. (To help, here are 6 Tips to Maintaining Balance on the Mat.)

6. Upavistha Konasana (Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold)

From a seated position, take your legs apart to a wide angle. Then lift both arms up and hinge forward from your hips, taking your chest toward the ground. At the point you feel the stretch and opening, hold here, supporting yourself on hands, forearms or a bolster.

With every inhalation here, find more length in your spine; and with every exhalation, release and soften toward the ground. This is a powerful hip and inner groin opener, and can be intense for tight hamstrings, so go gently. 

7. (Happy Baby Pose)

Lie on your back, lifting your feet like you are squatting on the ceiling. Hold the outsides of your feet, letting your knees come down toward the sides of your body. Lengthen your tailbone down and deepen your breaths

Happy baby pose is the ultimate stress reliever. It opens the hips in a gorgeously supported way, releases the lower back, and helps you to calm your body and mind. To maximize its benefits, get playful, rocking side to side to massage your lower back. 

There's No Place Like Home

Finally, remember that the advantage of home practice is that you are free to set the pace. Tune into what your body needs, adapt to and respond to it. And if you want to spend a bit longer in a pose, do! You're in the driver's seat here. Enjoy and, most importantly keep practicing!

We don't provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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