I’m a huge fan of yoga as yoga stretches are really beneficial, particularly when performed on a frequent basis. You can do yoga anywhere – not just in the traditional confines of a studio. Not only does yoga aid job function and concentration/mental abilities, it will also give your muscles a break and relieve tension that accompanies repetitive motions, like typing on a keyboard. These simple yoga stretches target the wrists, shoulders, upper back, lower back and the neck - all areas that need relief when you’ve been hunched over your desk all day!
One of the best yoga stretches to perform at your desk is a simple neck stretch for either side. Just the process of moving your neck will help get the kinks out and you’ll have more movement and flexibility afterwards. It’s perfect for relieving tension if you use the phone a lot, stare at a computer screen, or do any prolonged movement whereby your shoulders are hunched and your neck is pulled forward as a result.
A wonderful pose to open up the upper back and muscles in the shoulders, particularly if you’re hunched over a keyboard all day! If you raise the elbows up over your head during the stretch, you’ll feel this stretch a lot more. Traditionally, this is a standing pose where you’re balancing on one foot and wrapping the other leg around your standing leg. If you know the pose and want to do the complete standing pose, that’s optional.
Listen to your body when you’re doing these stretches – how does it feel? Notice how you’re sitting, maybe you’re hunched, perhaps you’re sitting erect? Either way, when you check in with your body, notice the sensations, be cognizant of your posture and check in with how you’re feeling. Side stretches lengthen the muscles between the ribs and the pelvis and they open up the sides of your rib cage, helping you to get more air into your lungs. They’re great if you suffer from asthma or do a lot of cardio exercises.
You can perform mini cat-cow stretches at your desk! How cool is that? If you’re not familiar with a traditional cat cow routine, it’s basically a gentle sequence of two poses that increase flexibility in your spine and promote a healthy posture. In the cat pose, you exhale and round your spine and the cow pose is when you inhale while lifting your chest and tail bone to the ceiling. I was so excited to see the cat-cow version in a chair and it will definitely help give your spine a quick stretch.
Twisting poses help restore the spine's natural range of motion, cleanse organs, stimulate circulation and soothe lower back aches. Be careful when performing twists if you’ve had any lower back injuries or experienced any type of disc injury before. Also remember to move from your abdomen not from your shoulders or neck. Seated twists can also be great for strengthening your obliques!
This is such a great stretch that targets the hip area and you should feel the intensity and depth of this stretch right away. Be careful of the alignment with your knees and remember to flex your feet. A lot of unwanted emotions are stored in our hips and it can prove hard to stretch out the hips, particularly when seated at a desk all day. This stretch should help you dissolve any tightness and tension associated with the emotions you're holding onto and create more space for improved range of motion.
There are some really great alignment and posture benefits associated with the downward dog pose, and it’s something you’ve probably heard of or done many times before in a yoga class. It’s usually a very earthy pose, however here it’s been modified for the desk, unless you have a big office where you can practice a fuller version of it. It’s perfect for releasing tight hamstrings, easing lower back pain, lengthening the achilles and just in general creating more space in the lower back and spine.
There’s no set way to perform these stretches, just listen to your own body, work with it and make adjustments accordingly. I recommend spending about ten minutes a day doing these stretches at your desk - your body and mind will thank you for it! Do you do any simple yoga stretches at your desk? If so, which ones?
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