Your work desk holds your family photos, stacks of paperwork, and your mid-afternoon snack stash.
Did you know it’s also a great spot to practice yoga at work?
Office yoga at work is an extremely beneficial way to improve your energy levels, relieve pain in that lower back or those sore shoulders. When you’ve been sitting for too long, and you’re ready for a stretch break, there are plenty of moves you can do right where you are.
Forget fancy equipment and complicated poses. It’s time to find your inner Zen, even with phones buzzing and fluorescent lights glaring overhead. Play your favorite yoga playlist in your earbuds and dive right in.
Today, we’re sharing eight yoga poses made for busy professionals looking to squeeze a little more out of their break time. Best part? You don’t even need to change out of your work clothes!
Keep in mind: We always recommend starting out your office yoga path with a private yoga class at work. Yoga at work helps boost energy levels, and even reduce sickness absence (yay for healthier employees using less sick days)! Our highly-trained yoga instructors come to your office! The class will focus on countering the negative effects of stress, burnout, and prolonged desk sitting.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
Begin with Your Breath
Before you enter into any of these yoga at work poses, take a few seconds to focus on your breath.
Sit at the front edge of your chair to create a straight line from your ears to your hips. Your knees should be even with your hip joints, and your feet should rest flat on the floor, directly under your knees. If you can’t adjust your chair to get this pose right, prop a book under your hips or feet for proper alignment.
Trying your best to tune out the distractions around you, close your eyes, and establish smooth breathing from your diaphragm. Notice how your upper abdomen and lower hips expand when you inhale and fall as you exhale. When you feel ready, you can begin the various poses.
1. Seated Twist
One of the best ways to practice yoga at your desk? Start with a simple seated twist.
Start by sitting in your chair with your back against the backrest. As you inhale, lift your arms over your head and as you exhale, twist to your right, placing both hands on the right armrest for support. Sitting in an armless chair? Place your right hand on the seat, behind your pelvis, and place your left hand on your right thigh.
Lengthen your spine with every inhale, allowing your body to stretch deeper into the pose. Hold the pose on each side for up to 60 seconds, and then switch sides.
2. Shoulder Rolls
You know your back tenses, and your fingers feel strained after a day in front of the screen. Yet, did you realize your shoulders and chest also feel this stress?
Shoulder pain at work doesn’t have to be a given. Why not do a few simple rolls to wiggle back your range of motion?
As you inhale, draw your shoulders up toward your ears and bring them back down. Then, on the exhale, move them down and forward. Repeat this motion two more times in the same direction, then reverse it.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Chances are, you’ve done some version of this yoga pose while looking for that pen or paper clip you dropped! Now, it’s time to learn the proper technique.
Starting standing up, move your knees and feet a little wider than hip-distance apart. Rest your hands on your hips. As you exhale, fold forward from the hips, being careful to keep your spine straight. A bend in the knees is a great way to modify the pose if needed.
Hold this pose for a few seconds, then move your hands down your legs. This motion allows your spine to round. If you can, rest your hands on the floor between your feet, but don’t sweat if you aren’t there yet!
Find your sweet spot and hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, release and use your leg and abdominal muscles to pull you back up.
4. Seated Figure Four Pose
This pose is ideal for stretching the deep muscles that surround your hip joints. It feels especially great after a marathon work session where you looked up or walked around for hours!
Begin by resting your outer left ankle on your right thigh. Holding your left ankle with your right hand and placing your left hand on your left knee, release an exhale. As you do, fold forward from your hip joints as far as you comfortably can, remembering to keep a straight spine.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch sides.
5. Seated Back Bend Pose
Feeling a little indigestion after that team lunch-and-learn? The fan pose offers a gentle belly stretch and also strengthens your immune system.
Sit at the front edge of your chair, placing your feet on the floor.
Your back should be off the chair, and your spine should be straight, not curved. Lean forward and reach your arms back behind you grabing the back of the chair. Work to keep your elbows as straight as you can.
Pull your shoulder blades back and inhale, noticing how your shoulders relax into the pose. When you’re ready, release the pose and sit up straight.
6. Seated Crescent Moon Pose
You might not think about your side body too often, but you’ll notice when it gets tight after a long day at the office. Keeping it strong is the key to a healthy and happy neck and shoulders.
Sitting in your desk chair, lift your arms over your head, and place your palms together. Lean to the right, and hold this pose for two to three breaths before switching sides.
7. Stork Pose
Have you ever noticed it’s hard to get up out of your chair at the end of a busy workday? That’s because your hips tighten and your glutes and hamstrings weaken. So, you rely on your back and even your neck to hoist you into a standing position at closing time.
The standing thigh pose can help!
Stand in front of your desk or chair and hold it for stability. Pressing your feet down into the floor, lift your right knee and hold it with your right hand.
Take a few breaths in this stretch. As you inhale, pull in your abdomen, guide your tailbone toward your heel and lengthen your right knee into the floor. Add a simple balance aspect by lifting your left arm.
Exhale to come out of the pose and switch sides.
8. Wrist and Finger Exercises
Of course, we can’t forget to relieve and stretch our most valuable office resources: our fingers, hands, and wrists!
Every two hours, stretch your arms to each side or overhead. Then, draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through your wrists. To remove any extra built-up tension, spread your fingers wide and close them into a quick fist, repeating this move five to 10 times.
You can also stretch each arm out before you, alternating inward and outward bends. Use your other hand to counter stretch, and hold each side for five to 10 breaths.
Yoga At Work Made Easy
We know you’re busy, and your day is chocked-full of things to do. We also know you care about your health and want to prioritize it, even amid a jam-packed work schedule.
That’s what makes these office yoga poses so convenient. In a few seconds, you can help melt away mounting tensions and create a personal oasis that leaves you feeling recharged and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
If you feel uneasy about doing these poses without an instructor, we’re here to help! Yoga Beyond the Studio specializes in yoga for beginners, offering personalized classes to meet you right where you are.
Want to learn other yoga moves you can implement at the office? Book a Yoga at Work class! We also offer private Yoga at Home classes designed around your needs and on your schedule. We’ll help you combat that 3 p.m. slump, one stretch at a time!