Have you ever experienced a stiff neck, aching shoulders, tension in your wrists, a sore lower back, or tight hips? Maybe you are even feeling some of these as you read this. If so, these symptoms could be the result of being slouched in front of a computer or smartphone for 8+ hours a day. It is no surprise that we spend a lot of time tuned into our devices (for business and pleasure), however, it compromises our posture and causes our bodies to hold a lot of tension, which leads to those uncomfortable aches and pains.
The good news is that you do not have to live with this discomfort. With a few desk yoga poses, you can stretch those tight muscles and joints, reduce stress, and re-energize yourself in just a few minutes.
Boost your daily routines with some desk yoga
Seated Cat Cow Pose
If you’ve been to a yoga class you are probably very familiar with this as a classic spinal stretch. Flowing between cat and cow pose helps to warm up the body and bring flexibility to the spine.
To enjoy this stretch right from your chair, sit up tall and slightly forward from the back of your chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor (hips width distance a part), your legs at 90 degrees, and your hands resting on your knees. On your inhale, roll your shoulders back, press your heart forward, and raise your chin to look up towards the ceiling into cow position. As your exhale, simultaneously shift your gaze towards your navel and roll your shoulders forwards, bring your chin towards your chest, tuck your tailbone under, and round out your spine into cat position. Repeat for 5-10 rounds, making sure you inhale for cow position and exhale for cat position. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable.
Got a stiff neck? This stretch will really lengthen the neck, helping to create space between of each of the vertebrae in the cervical spine.
Start by sitting up tall and slightly forward from the back of your chair. Align your head directly over your spine and feel the crown of your head lifting. Take a deep inhale, and on your exhale, slowly tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder. Keep your gaze forward without turning your head. You’ll feel a nice stretch along the left side of your neck. If you would like an extra stretch, put your right hand on the top side of your tilted head, and press lightly with your fingertips. After taking 3-5 breaths, switch sides.
Benefits: Lengthening and stretching both the large and small muscles can help ease neck pain and improve range of motion.
If you have been sitting in one position for a long time, likely your upper back is feeling a bit tense. These shoulder rolls will help release tension in both the upper back and shoulders.
While sitting upright, let your arms relax on either side of your body. As you breathe in, lift the shoulders up towards the ears. At the same time as you slowly roll your shoulders back, squeeze the shoulder blades together. As you exhale, drop the shoulders back. On your next inhale, slowly rotate your shoulders forward and up as you feel a nice stretch in your upper back. Repeat this rotating motion for 3-5 rounds, relax your shoulders, and then switch directions.
Benefits: Release tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
With the amount of typing and texting that we all do, our hands and wrists need a much deserved break. So go ahead and give them that with a nice wrist release.
While seated, start by shaking out your hands to help them relax. Then come to stillness and extend both arms in front of you. With your arm straight, gently bend at the wrist with your fingers point down towards the ground. You’ll feel a nice stretch from the top of your wrist, through your forearm, and into your inner elbow. Then, with your arms still extended, gently point your fingers up towards the ceiling flexing at the wrists. continue this motion for a 5-10 rounds.
If you want a deeper stretch for a wrist release, bend your right arm at a 90 degree angle with your palm facing the ceiling and your fingers pointing behind you. Take the fingertips of your left hand and place them on top of your right hands fingertips. Gently pull your fingers down and toward the back of your wrist until you feel a gentle stretch.
Benefits: Eases slight pain, increases flexibility, and helps to lower the risk of injury.
Seated Spinal Twist
Spinal twist is a great posture to stretch the upper body and relieve lower back pain. encourages spinal mobility and releases lower back pain.
Sit up tall and slightly forward from the back of your chair. Rotating from your mid back, turn your shoulders towards the right side of your chair. You can hold the armrest, chair back or anchor your hand on your need. You might feel a stretch in the outside of your neck as you gaze over your turned shoulder. You’ll likely also feel a stretch from the left shoulder through the left side of your torso. Take 2-3 breaths in this twist, and then switch to the other side.
Benefits: Releases the lower back and encourages spinal mobility.
For the last stretch, a modified pigeon pose will help to release hip tension and many other areas that are tight. Plus, it can still be easily done from your chair!
To do this pose, sit up tall and slightly forward from the back of your chair. Make sure your legs are hips width distance a part and at 90 degrees. Lift your right leg and cross the outside of your right ankle over your left knee. Flex your right foot to protect your right knee. You might already feel a stretch in your outer hip and glute on the right side. If you aren’t feeling much of a stretch yet, take an inhale, and as your exhale, slowly hinge forward at your waist until you feel that stretch. Take 5-10 breaths, and then switch sides.
Benefits: Increases flexibility in your hip area and relieves compression in the spine by lengthening and stretching the hip flexors.
Take some time during your busy day to practice these six simple desk yoga poses right from your seat, and you’ll soon notice how they can help you stretch, release tension, alleviate stress, and bring some calm to your work day.