Let’s get one thing straight. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours is awful for your body. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about how to reverse the effects. You already go to yoga classes during the week and/or on the weekend but you could be doing yoga at work too! If you have the luxury of going to class on your lunch break, all of us office-bound folks are extremely jealous but for the rest of us, try the 7 poses below … to do yoga at your desk!
HOW: Sit up tall. Inhale and place your right hand on top left of your head. On your exhale gently bring your right ear closer to your right shoulder. Intensify the stretch by extending your opposite arm down towards the ground. Continue to hold and breathe for 5 rounds of breath. Repeat on the left side.
BENEFITS: Release neck stiffness, can also help prevent tension headaches.
HOW: Place your fingertips on the edge of your desk or chair (only if it is very stable). Spread your fingers apart and stretch through your palms. Start to walk backwards enough that you can extend your arms straight so your body is in an L shape. Let your heart and chest yearn towards the floor. Breathe here for 30 seconds to a minute and release.
BENEFITS: Stretches the shoulders, chest, hamstrings and calves.
HOW: Place your hands on top of your knees, palms face down. Inhale and gaze up, curve your spine so your stomach is closer to your knees. Exhale and arch your back, tuck your chin towards your chest. Move through this sequence 5-7 times.
BENEFITS: Stretches the front and back torso as well as the neck.
HOW: Stand up from your chair and step your feet apart hips width distance, take a deep inhale and on your exhale fold your body in half. Let your head and neck completely relax, releasing all tension. This can also be done seated.
Benefits: In this posture, your head is below your heart, using gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood. This increases mental function and improves concentration.
HOW: Place your right hand on top of your left knee. Gently begin to turn from your torso towards the left. Hold for 5 breaths and release. Repeat on the opposite side.
BENEFITS: Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, relieves lower back and neck tension.
HOW: Sit up straight. Gently clasp your hands behind your head. Begin to gaze backwards while simultaneously pressing your heart forward. Intensify by pushing your elbows back.
BENEFITS: After sitting at a desk and a computer for a long time, we begin to slouch and our neck and head move towards the screen. This pose is the counter stretch for slouching as well as a back bend, opening up the chest.
HOW: Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, lower your chair if needed. Gently place your right foot on your left knee. To intensify the stretch, start to fold towards your knee. Breathe here for 30 seconds to a minute, and then switch sides.
BENEFITS: This pose opens the hips, which get extremely tight from sitting at a desk or behind the wheel of a car.
Why am I so passionate about doing yoga at work? When I first entered the work force after college, I was working at a desk, typing endlessly and had no idea this could be detrimental to my health. After a few months, I started to get numbness in my fingers and tension pain in the back of my neck, shoulders and forearms. The company I was working for at the time referred me to a doctor through Workers’ comp. When I finally saw the doctor, he immediately prescribed me painkillers and muscle relaxers. I now know this only masked my pain and wasn’t going to fix it long term. On my own, I went to a physical therapist and tossed the meds. The physical therapist showed me how I can strengthen and stretch my body to help alleviate the pain from work … and yoga does the same!
Article written by Hallie Anoff. Check out her class schedule here!