Getting up and onto the yoga mat regularly is great for your health and mind, but if you work at a busy desk job, your regular practice still might not be enough to combat the stress and pressure you are putting on your body - and your posture!
However, there are many ways to alleviate this pressure, but the easiest ones don’t even involve getting up from your chair - perfect for those days when you’ve just got too much work to do.
There are many yoga poses you can practice at your desk, and we’ve put together some of the best to help the areas that get the most strain sitting down, to reduce back pain, posture issues and stress.
Even if you only have time for one of these yoga postures, they will still bring benefits to your workday!
Seated Crescent Moon
Slouching is all too common when we’re busy at work and not thinking about our posture. Hunching over a computer is a very easy yet bad habit to get into, which will make your neck and shoulder uncomfortable after a while. This pose will help to elongate your spine and get you thinking about sitting up straighter.
Simply lift your arms over your head, stretching out your fingers and stretching your spine tall. Take a few breaths leaning to one side, then repeat on the other. Voila!
Typing away at your desk all day can increase tension in your finger and wrist muscles. Giving your hands a stretch every so often will increase blood flow and give a little relief to those areas.
Drawing circles clockwise and anticlockwise with your wrists is a great way to get these joints moving, followed by spreading your fingers then closing into fists a few times to stretch your fingers. This will get rid of any tension in these areas. You can also bend and stretch your wrist inwards and outwards to stretch your wrist muscles further, holding each side for a few breaths to get the best benefit.
Seated spinal twists are a great way to alleviate any tension in your lower back that can be created by sitting down at your desk. Placing your left hand on your right knee, hold your chair with your right hand. With each inhale, sit a little taller, and then turn to your right with each exhale. Sitting taller on the inhalation will help to deepen the twist, so take a few breaths here before switching sides.
If you tend to sit crossed legged or lean on one side more than another at your desk, you can create an imbalance in your hips and spine, which affects your alignment and posture. Chair pigeon is a great pose to alleviate this.
Sitting at your desk, put both of your feet flat on the floor, and cross your left leg over your right at a 90 degree angle, flexing your foot to protect your knee. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed across your sitting bones, and sit up straight. Hold this for a few breaths before switching sides.
Seated to Standing position
Sitting down all day can lead to our leg muscles and glutes taking a break, which can lead to strain on our upper back when it's time to sit up again. Doing this movement a couple of times a day can awaken up your leg muscles and relieve the pressure on your back.
Start seated with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Try to make your way up to a standing position pushing down from your heels, without using your arms or moving your feet. Then, slowly make your way back down, keeping your hips straight and your body upright.
You can adapt the Chaturanga pose to use your desk, to help you strengthen your muscles and give your arms a boost of energy. It’s also a great way to get up and out of your chair.
Resting your hands on your desk (make sure it’s sturdy!), step your feet back so you are diagonal to the floor. Bending your arms to a 90-degree angle when you inhale, and pressing back out again on your exhale, like you’re doing a push up against your desk.
Desk Upward Facing Dog
Follow your Chaturanga pose by opening up your chest and shoulders with an upward dog - modified to do at your desk. This pose will help to straighten your posture and combat that rounded spine we can get hunched over our work. Stand in the same position as you prepared for your Chaturanga, but this time instead keep your arms straight and lower your hips towards your desk, stretching your chest out and pushing your chin up.
Finally, one more pose before you can sit back down again - planks are great to increase strength in our muscles and get our bodies working. Standing with your feet under your hips, put your hands shoulder-distance apart on the edge of your desk. Hold this position for a few breaths to shake off the tension you can build up after sitting down all day.
Restorative Resting Pose
While in a yoga class we would get a peaceful savasana at the end of our practice, sitting at our desks can still allow for a small moment of restoration. It’s important to still take a few moments to ground ourselves. Placing your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms on your desk and lay your forehand flat down on your arms. Breathe deeply for as long as you are able to, allowing your mind to unwind, giving you a boost of mental energy to get on with your day.
Try to set aside even a couple of minutes each workday to breathe deeply, clear your mind and stretch your muscles - your body will thank you, and you’ll find those busy workdays become a little more manageable with yoga.
By Amy Cavill
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