Stretched for time? Do Yoga at Your Office Desk

Desk jobs are killers, like really. Avoid the herky-jerky, broken movements of the zombie office worker; try these yoga postures at your office desk.

Sitting at the office desk in front of the computer for long hours can be very taxing on the body, and the result can be a very sore lower back, stiff neck, tight hips and shoulders, and painful fingers. Staying stagnant for hours at a stretch can only compound these problems leading to day-end exhaustion and multiple musculoskeletal problems over the years.

So, if you don’t want to feel dead tired in the evenings and don’t want to suffer from painful conditions that are a result of sitting long hours at the desk, follow these simple yoga postures, and stay refreshed and relaxed throughout the day.

Neck and Shoulder Stretches

These are the simplest exercises you can do to relax your neck and shoulder stiffness from long hours at the desk. First, close your eyes and relax your entire body. You will realize how much stiffness you can remove by just being conscious of it. Start with neck rolls. Roll your neck in clockwise direction for 4–5 rolls and then repeat this counter-clockwise. For side stretches, move your face from side to side and up and down, and your neck from side to side.

For shoulder rolls, keep your hands relaxed at the sides of your body. Lift your shoulders to perform a roll – clockwise and counter-clockwise, both for 4–5 rolls.

Next, keep your hands perpendicular to your body and fold your arms at your elbows to let your fingertips rest on your shoulders. Keeping your arms at right angles to your body, roll them – first clockwise and then counter-clockwise, each for 4–5 rolls.

Seated Crescent Moon Pose (Chandrasana)

When you are constantly hunched over a computer for hours at a stretch, the side body is extremely strained. This leads to neck and shoulder discomfort. This pose strengthens your sides, so you have a taller and straighter spine and more relaxed neck and shoulders.

This is a modified Ardha Chandrasana where you perform this pose while sitting on the chair instead of standing. Sit with a straight back and lift your hands over your head and join your palms. Lean to the right, hold the position while taking 2–3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side. Perform this in 2–3 sets.

Chair Pigeon Pose

This is a modified (and simplified) version of the Extended One-legged Pigeon Pose or the Utthita Eka Pada Kapotasana. When we sit on a chair with our legs crossed, it can bring about an imbalance in the hips and lower spine. With this pose, you can bring back the balance and relax the spine.

Sit with a straight back on the chair and cross your left leg in such a way that it rests on the right at a 90-degree angle. Place both your palms on the knee of your crossed leg and twist to the right side until you feel a slight stretch on the outermost part of the right thigh. Hold this position for 4–5 deep breaths and then switch sides.

Seated Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Bring your left arm behind your back and your right arm behind your head. Clasp your fingers. Hold this pose for 5–7 breaths and change position.

This is a modified Gomukhasana, which is done while sitting and crossing both legs so that the knee of one leg rests on the other. This pose helps relax hip joints as well as strengthens shoulders.

Desk Pushups (Diagonal Chaturanga)

Chaturanga, or Four-Limbed Staff Pose, helps build upper and core body strength and strengthens low back muscles. Desk Chaturanga can help energize your arms which may lose strength while working in office.

Rest your hands on the edge of a sturdy desk. Keep them at shoulder width distance. Step back and plant your feet firmly on the ground such that your torso is diagonal to the ground. You need to bend your elbows to a 90-dgree angle, just like during pushups. Hold this pose for 4–5 breaths and then push your body so that your hands are straight. Again bend your elbow to bring your body to a Chaturanga pose. Repeat 8–12 times.

Sitting Tadasana

Tadasana, also known as the “Mountain Pose” “or Palm Tree Pose,” is usually done while standing. To perform this pose while sitting on your chair, raise your hands straight up above your head. Interlock your fingers with palms facing upwards. Stretch your upper body as much as possible. Take a deep breath while stretching, hold your body in this stretched position for a few seconds and then gently take your hands down while exhaling. Perform this for 4–5 times.

This pose helps normalize breathing by strengthening the lung muscles, proper breathing ensures adequate oxygen flow throughout the body, thereby increasing effectiveness at work. It also strengthens the spine, arms, and the heart.

Sitting Dwikonasana

Dwikonasana, or Double Angle Pose, loosens the muscles of the chest and strengthens shoulder and neck muscles. It helps relieve back, neck, and shoulder pain and stiffness.

To perform this pose while sitting, sit straight and keep your feet firmly on the ground. Pull your arms behind your back and bend your back from the waist so that your upper body rests on your thighs. Keep your arms stretched at a right angle to your back with your fingers interlocked and palms facing upwards. Keep your neck relaxed. While performing the pose, inhale deeply and hold your breath till you hold the pose. While returning back to normal, exhale.

Seated Spinal Twist

This is a variation of the Ardha Matsyendrasana. This pose improves spinal flexibility and aids in digestion and also improves blood flow to vital organs.

Twist your upper body while sitting on the chair and hold the arms or backrest of the chair to hold this pose. After a few seconds, repeat on the other side. Hold this pose while holding your breath for a few seconds while coming back to your original position.

Eyes also need rest, and you can do this by closing them for 30 seconds. For exercising eyes, practice rapid blinking. Blink your eyes rapidly for 20–25 times and then close them for a few seconds. Meanwhile, rub your palms vigorously to generate warmth and then place your palms over your eyes to transfer the warmth to them.

To clear your mind from all the clutter and rejuvenate your thinking, close your eyes and practice deep abdominal breathing. Keep this breathing slow and deep. Start from 11 and count till 0. You will feel calm and clear-headed. Every half hour, take a break from work, get off the chair and walk around the office to get the blood flowing to your legs. It also eases the mind.

Working in an office environment can be mentally and physically draining for the body. These easy yoga exercises will help relax the stiffness of your body while also strengthening it to take the rigors of office work.

Make yourself a healthy snack with these protein brownies! You can take them to the office to keep you healthy on the inside!

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