4 Easy Yoga Poses to Do at Your Desk

Yoga

“Sitting is the new smoking,” as the saying goes.

Undo some of the damage with a few easy stretches you can do right at your desk.

Here are a few ideas to get you started—no yoga mat required.

 

Eagle Arms

Feeling edgy? Wish you could swoop down on a scurrying rodent and inject your razor-sharp claws into its soft little body? Try eagle arms instead:
neck-stretch

  1. Take a breath, plant your feet on the floor and sit up straight.
  2. As you inhale, raise your arms to your sides.
  3. Cross one arm over the other and give yourself a big hug on the shoulders. Your elbows should be stacked.
  4. Bend your arms 90 degrees. This will put your hands in front of your face.
  5. If you can, connect your palms. If they don’t reach, connect the backs of your hands.
  6. Drop those shoulders. Press your palms together and very gently raise your fingertips higher.
  7. Hold for five breaths (count them out) and switch sides.

Gentle Neck Stretch

When your job is literally a pain in the neck, get a fresh perspective with a tilt of the head. Don’t crank on your neck or attempt to move it in full circles. Take an easy, gentle approach.

neck-stretch

  1. Sit up straight, feet on the floor, and take a breath.
  2. Interlace your fingers behind your lower back.
  3. As you inhale, extend your arms behind your back.
  4. Exhaling, move your knuckles to the left side of your torso. Take them as far to the side as feels comfortable.
  5. Squeeze your left elbow in toward your body, and drop your head towards your left shoulder.
  6. Neck stays long and your head stays centered (definitely don’t drop it back).
  7. Stay there for five breaths (remember to count) and switch sides.

Seated Hip Opener

Sitting at a desk all day is a great way to tighten your hips, which directly affect your low back. Create some space with this subtle-but-energizing pose:

forward-fold

  1. Sit tall, with both feet on the floor.
  2. Now put your right ankle on top of your left knee. Flex your right foot as if you were pressing it firmly against a wall.
  3. Before you move any farther, inhale and feel your spine lengthen.
  4. As you exhale, fold forward from your hips with a straight back.
  5. How far you move is up to you. Look for a stretching sensation—never pain.
  6. Hold the pose for five breaths, then sit up straight and switch sides.

Seated Twist

Are your thoughts all tangled up with to-do lists, deadlines and interruptions? Hit the re-set button with this deceptively simple move:

seated-twist

  1. Plant both feet on the floor as you sit up tall and inhale.
  2. As you exhale, twist to the right.
  3. Take hold of the chair’s armrest or chair back, being sure to keep both hips evenly grounded.
  4. It helps to think about moving from your belly with a straight spine; avoid cranking on your shoulders/upper back.
  5. Keep your knees even; neither should extend beyond the other.
  6. When you’ve twisted as deeply as you can, turn your head to gaze over your right shoulder.
  7. Stay in the twist for five more breaths, then come back to center and switch sides.

You know you it’s a good idea to stretch, but will you really do it? Try this: Book five minutes in Outlook (or whatever calendar software you use) to help yourself commit. Start with just one of these stretches a day, and work up to four.

Any of these poses—whether you do just one or all four—will provide an energy boost and a tiny dose of tranquility in the midst of a desk bound day.

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