Staying Well at Work: 5 Yoga Poses to Try at Your Desk

Staying Well at Work: 5 Yoga Poses to Try at Your Desk

alt text

Deadlines, meetings, improper posture (ahem slouching and hunching) sitting for long hours, typing, writing, texting, driving… all of these lead to one thing: stress. Whether it is physical or emotional, by the end of the day most of us are feeling stress somewhere in our bodies. And you don’t have to tell us, we know how difficult it can be to carve out time for a full yoga practice (however, it’s highly recommended). However, carrying your out of office wellness routine into your 9-5 can do wonders for your productivity and overall well-being. These poses are a great place to start if you’re restricted on time or simply want to hit the “reset” button during your workday.

alt text

1. Neck Release

If you often suffer from headaches, or tension throughout your neck and shoulders; do yourself a favor and stop what you’re doing, and try this out.

  • Start in a comfortable seated position, preferably with both feet on the floor. Stabilize (or engage) your core, and then roll your shoulders up, back, and down.
  • Turn your gaze over towards the right (not as far as your shoulder), turn the gaze downward from there.
  • Gently place your right palm on the back of your head to allow you to go deeper into this stretch.
  • Hold for 10 breaths to 20 breaths (1 inhale and exhale = 1 breath)
  • Gently release arm down by your side, and neck through neutral.
  • Observe how you feel, and then switch sides.

Tips: Be careful not to press or force your head down. Instead, the hand behind your head is rather giving very gentle weight to encourage a deeper release.

Bonus: You can enjoy this pose in a different variation. Instead of letting your head go to either side, try tucking the chin in towards the chest, and interlacing hands (fingers weave like a basket) behind your head. All other cues still apply.

Target Areas: Sternocleidomastoid, Levator Scapulae, Upper Trapezius

alt text

2. Gomukhasana Arms

Traditionally this is done with both arms and legs to produce an intense, yet very rewarding pose. Since this is being done at your desk, we’ll focus on the upper body.

  • Start seated in a comfortable position with both feet on the floor.
  • Keeping your left arm down by your side, reach your right arm out straight out, and then directly up toward the sky.
  • Bend your below, reaching your arm down your back as if you're patting yourself on the back.
  • Now reach your left arm out to the left, start to take it behind your back, bend in your elbow to make a connection with your right hand by interlacing fingers.
  • Hold for 10 breaths to 20 breaths (1 inhale and exhale = 1 breath)
  • Gently release to a neutral position before switching sides

Modifications: If your fingers don’t interlace comfortably or at all, don’t worry! Instead, mimic that connection by using your shirt. Using your top hand grab a piece of your shirt, and gently pull up. Using your bottom hand, grab a piece of your shirt, and gently pull down. If practiced regularly, one day you will be able to make the connection with your fingers as the tension in your shoulders is released.

Tips: Top elbow is extended directly upward (or working it’s way there), and the bottom elbow is extended in the opposite direction. Gently tuck your chin in towards your chest (elongating your spine). Rather than letting your head, neck, or shoulders hunch – keep a tall spine, and encourage your head slightly back. Imagine that one day your head will press back into the arm that’s extended over your head.

Target Areas: Triceps, Thorax, and Trapezius

alt text

3. Wrist & Forearm Stretch

We use our wrists and forearms daily, yet they’re consistently overlooked when we think about stretching. Go ahead and give them some well-deserved love.

  • Start in a standing position, close to a clean surface such as your desk.
  • Keeping one hand palm facing down on your desk for stability, turn the other hand around (palm facing down) so the fingertips are now facing towards your body.
  • Keep a slight micro-bend in your elbow at all times
  • Hold for 10 breaths to 20 breaths (1 inhale and exhale = 1 breath)
  • Slowly ease out of this, bringing your hand back to neutral.
  • Switch sides.

Modifications/Variations: To go deeper, you will bring more weight down through the fingertips almost as if you’re bringing the arm back closer to your body – however the palm is still staying grounded on the surface you’re using. If you’d like, you can try doing both arms at once, however most people find it more comfortable doing it one at a time.

Tips: Maintain a slight micro-bend in your elbows to avoid hyperextension, and keep the palm down on the flat surface.

Target Areas: Forearm (brachioradialis, extensor carpi ulnaris)

alt text

4. Pyramid (Legs)

I know I don’t have to tell you how the lower body feels after a day of sitting in a chair, or even driving. This pose can be done just about anywhere, and after only a few seconds you’ll be feeling refreshed!

  • Start in a standing position, near a wall or a desk. Be sure to have at least two or three feet of room.
  • Step one leg about 2 feet behind you; legs are the distance of your hips
  • Straighten your legs so that they are both straight, making a pyramid-like shape.
  • Either place your hands on the desk, or wall for stability
  • Hold for 10 breaths to 20 breaths (1 inhale and exhale = 1 breath)
  • Gently step forward so feet are parallel. As you’re ready, switch sides.

Modifications/Variations: To go deeper, you can fold over the front leg.

Tips: Always maintain a slight micro-bend in your knees (no one else may notice if they were to look, but you can feel it) to avoid any hyperextension. Try to keep the front leg straight to reap the most benefit.

Target Areas: Hip, hamstring

alt text

5. Half Pigeon

Hips are yet another place tension likes to hide. This gentle stretch gives you the ability to control how deep you go.

  • Start seated in a chair with both feet on ground.
  • Start to bend into your left knee, and cross your left ankle over the right thigh. Your legs will make the shape of the number four.
  • Keep your left foot gently flexed to protect your knee.
  • Stay here for at least 15-30 breaths.
  • Gently unwind, and place both feet on the floor. Switch sides.

When trying these out above all - listen to your body. If something hurts beyond an intense sensation, back out of it. Let us know what you think once you give these a try. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags: #AnywhereFitness #AnywhereFitDeskYoga


Casey Miller, Anywhere Fitness Regional Manager

Casey first came to yoga a few years ago as a form of restorative exercise; in an effort seek relief for her diagnosis of an autoimmune disease.  She soon realized the benefits of yoga were not exclusively physical, but also emotional.   As her passion and love for yoga grew, she knew the practice was something she wanted to share with others.  She completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance certification at Okra Charlotte in the spring of 2016.   In today’s fast paced society, Casey finds joy in sharing this practice of mindful movement and self-awareness with others.  Off the mat, Casey enjoys spending time outdoors, taking day trips, and is trying new coffees and teas.