While the 60 to 90 minutes you spend on your yoga mat a few days a week certainly helps, it is no match for the chronic stress and tension you place on your body during the rest of the day in your desk job. Sitting at a desk for hours on end places unnecessary strain on the lumbar spine, over stretches the mid to upper back, and shortens the chest and hips—leading to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Try this simple office yoga sequence when you cannot get to your favourite class.
Seated Crescent Moon Pose
The side body tends to collapse when hunched over a computer, contributing to neck and shoulder discomfort. Seated Crescent Moon fixes that so you can return to your seat with a taller spine, a clearer head, and sharper focus. Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the right, taking 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side for another 2 to 3 deep breaths.
Wrist and Finger Stretches
Desk work builds up tension in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists, so extra blood flow to these areas is always appreciated. Try these stretches every 2 hours. Extend the arms to the sides or overhead and draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, quickly spread the fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension.Place the hands one on your desk, palms facing up and fingers towards you, putting gentle pressure to counterstretch the wrist and the forearm. Alternatively, you may stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counterstretching with your other hand. Hold each side 5 to 10 breaths.
Chair Pigeon Pose
Crossing our legs while seated, especially when done on one side more than the other, can create imbalances in the hips and lower spine. Bring balance back with Chair Pigeon. While seated in your chair, both feet flat on the floor, cross your right leg over the left at a 90-degree angle, keeping the foot flexed as to not place pressure on the knee. Maintain equal weight distributed between the sitting bones while staying in an upright seated position. You should feel a gentle to moderate stretch on the outermost part of the right thigh. Hold 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.
Sit and Stand Chair Pose
When we’re seated all day, the underused glutes and hamstrings lose their motivation to help us get back up, and we rely on the upper back and even the neck (eeeek!) to hoist the body to a standing position. This two-part pose helps awaken these leg muscles. Begin seated with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat. Press down from your heels, trying not to move the feet in toward your chair or use your arms, and make your way up to standing.
Your desk can support your yoga pushups! Blasting out a few of these strengthening movements throughout the day reminds the muscles around your neck to relax, while energizing the arms, which tend to go soft during the majority of the day. Get up out of your chair for this! Rest your hands about shoulder width distance on the edge of your sturdy desk, and step your feet back so your torso is a diagonal line to the floor. Your feet firmly placed, inhale as you bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle, hugging the elbows in towards the ribs.