Long grueling hours behind a desk, the year-end looming, not to mention the daily professional and social demands that land on our shoulders…it is sometimes very hard to sneak in that much needed group yoga practice you so need and desire, but what if you could bring a little bit of wellness into your office or conference room? There is no need to feel guilty when all you have to do is schedule a little movement during your next coffee break. These simple asanas have been modified to accommodate an office environment, with no need to pack your mat or even change your clothes.
Why is it so important to find time to stretch and exercise?
Outside of helping you feel your best self, taking time to do yoga or any other physical activity has many benefits, from toning the body to giving you energy. Incorporating simple easy stretches and asanas can provide practitioners with mental clarity and a relaxed body that is motivated to work hard and stay on task dsepite the toll long hours in the office can take. Not to mention, a healthy spine has a natural “S-shape.” Sitting behind a computer in an office chair for 8 hours a day causes the body to become out of alignment. Slouching, the primary culprit for aches and pains, is observed as the pelvis tilts back, shoulders round, and the lower back flattens causing the spine to curve into a “C-shape.” The neck is then jeopardized as it cranes in the pursuit to see the computer screen. Have you ever felt that pinch in the neck or carpal tunnel after spending too much time typing reports or creating budgets? There is no need to put up with the discomfort. Rid yourself of minor aches and pains in no time with a set of asanas targeted at specific areas prone to stress:
- Lower Back
15 Yoga Moves to Incorporate into your Day at the Office
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Muscle strengthening for proper alignment
Practice: Stand feet hips distance apart, knee caps raised toward the thighs, thighs rotated in, tailbone tucked under, shoulders relaxed down the back, navel pulled in toward the spine
Option: Do shoulder rolls, squeezing your shoulders toward your ears and circling them down your spine and back up. Do this a few times before changing direction and drawing the shoulders forward.
2. Dynamic Arm Raises: connect movement with breath
- Improve circulation
- Energize your body and mind
Practice: Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose), feet hips distance apart, knee caps raised toward the thighs, thighs rotated in, shoulders relaxed down the back, navel pulled in toward the spine. Inhale your arms overhead; exhale arms down to your sides. Do this 10-15 times in one direction before switching the flow.
3. Standing Side Body Stretch
- Opens your chest and ribcage so that your breath can deepen and begin to calm the nervous system and the mind
- Aids in proper posture
Practice: Stand next to a table, both feet grounded on the floor in Tadasana pose, and place one hand on the edge of the table (right), with a slight bend in the right elbow. Inhale up the opposite arm (left); exhale and start stacking the shoulders (left shoulder over the right), keeping the heart and chest open and lifted. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching to the other side. Repeat as often as you need.
4. Eagle Arms
- Stretches the shoulder
- Improves back posture
- Dissolves tension at the base of the neck
Practice: In a seated or standing position, reach your arms out to the side of the body in a “T.” Take your right arm forward; cross the left arm over top at the elbows and the wrists until the palms of your hands meet creating an eagle wing. Lift the elbows up in line with your shoulders. Repeat starting with your left arm forward and right arm over top. Hold each side for 30 seconds to a minute.
Option: Take your hands away from your face to feel a deeper stretch through your shoulder blades.
5. Neck and Shoulder Release
- Chest expansion
- Helps alignment and posture
- Softens neck tension
- Opens shoulders
Practice: Standing in Tadasana, inhale arms over head, and exhale arms back behind your back, interlacing your fingers by your glutes. Adjust shoulder blades back and forth, imagining you want to squeeze a pencil between them. Standing tall, start lifting hands up and away from your glutes; hinging at your hips and leading with your heart, forward fold as your knuckles reach for the sky and your head hangs heavy for 30 seconds. Release in the forward fold, grabbing opposite elbows, and sway back and forth before coming back to center. Roll up slowly to standing.
6. Standing Chair Twist
- Wrings out tension in deep muscles of the spine
- Brings oxygen to the organs
Practice: Using a wooden chair or folding chair, bend your right knee over the seat next to the back of the chair. Inhale left arm overhead, and on exhale take the left hand to the back of the chair. Using your breath, inhale lengthen and exhale twist. Continue this until the gaze is turned to the back of the room over your right shoulder. Gently release and switch to the opposite side of the chair and perform this twist with the left knee bent.
7. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
- Stretches hip and leg muscles (these areas get tight sitting at a desk all day and create pain and tension in the lower back)
Practice: Stand grounded on both feet facing a desk. Place left hand on the desk and lift your right foot behind your butt. Bending at the knee, reach around with the right hand for the ankle, and keep the knees close together. Hold for 30 seconds and change sides.
Option: Lift left hand up, finding a focal point on the desk in front of you for a one leg balance.
8. Standing Leg Stretch
- Opens the hips, hamstrings, and calves
- Increases the circulation from the pelvis to the feet
Practice: Using a chair, stand with one foot grounded and the other leg stretched out straight on a chair, with heel on the seat, flexing the foot, toes towards your face. Inhale, stand tall and lengthen the spine. Exhale, hinge forward, leading with the heart. When the hinge stops, melt over the outstretched leg for 30 seconds to a minute, and then change legs.
9. Chair Warrior
- Stretches tight hip and leg muscles
- Inspires inner strength and power
Practice: Using a chair, step right leg over the seat of the chair, finding a high lunge. Walk the left leg back until the hamstrings of the right leg rest on the seat of the chair. Shift the left foot flat on the floor at a 45-degree angle. Square your hips to the chair, drawing the right hip back and pushing the left hip towards the chair. Hold for 30 seconds and change.
Option: Lift the arms overhead, palms facing in but not touching, and allow the shoulders to relax away from your ears.
10. Seated Pigeon
- Hip opener
- Loosens tight buttocks
Practice: Sitting in a chair, cross your right ankle over your left knee, creating a “number 4.” Inhale, lengthen spine, sitting up tall; exhale forward fold, allowing your body to drape over the leg. Hold 30 seconds to a minute and change legs.
11. Seated Forward Fold
- Stretches long muscles of the spine
- Refreshes the nervous system by inverting the body, encouraging blood flow to head, knees, neck, and shoulders
Practice: Sit on the edge of a chair with the knees out wider than your hips, toes slightly pointed in. Inhale lengthen, sitting nice and tall; exhale fold the upper body forward between your legs, resting your hands palm face up on the floor or resting them gently on your knees. Hold for one minute.
12. Finger Pull and Forearm Stretch
- Relieves tension in forearms
Practice: Reach both hands out in front of you, palms flat face down. Start with the pinky and curl fingers in making a fist, clench, and release. Do this 5-10 times.
Practice: Stretch your arms in front of the body, palms face up. Bend the wrist, taking fingers towards the toes. Use the opposite hand to press gently on the palm, and stretch the individual fingers gently back towards the wrist.
13. Carpal Canal Stretch
- Stretches forearm and neck muscles
Practice: Reverse your Namaste hands where the tops of the hands touch, fingers pointed down. Circle in toward the body, and then reverse circling your hands outward.
Practice: Outstretch both arms in front of the body. First create tight fists, flatten hands palm face down, then create the letter “C,” flip the “C” palm face up, stretch palm flat, clench the fist, repeat
14. Jaw and Neck Release
- Softens jaw muscles
- Soothes any kinks in the neck
- Helps ease headaches
Practice: Use finger pads to massage jaw bone and hinge.
Practice: Sit tall, shoulders stacked over your hips, and drop chin to chest. Roll right ear to right shoulder, and use the right hand to gently touch the top of the head to stretch; release hand, roll chin to chest, proceed to left side, and repeat.
15.Seated Cat and Cow flow
- Connecting breath with movement calms the nervous system, bringing you into the present moment
- Warms up the spine and opens the chest
Practice: Seated in a chair, hands palm face down on your knees, inhale and look up. Lean forward expanding your chest, exhale, arch your back, round out your shoulders, and draw the navel in towards your spine. Repeat: inhale, look up, and exhale chin to chest into cat pose.
All chair poses:
- Sit squarely in your chair with feet flat on the floor.
- Option: Take your shoes off to stretch your toes.
- Firmly plant feet on the ground. Lift through the core to the crown of the head.
- Open and lift the chest, relax the shoulders, and allow the shoulder blades to fall back and down.