Working from home or back to the office, one thing remains constant – sitting at a desk for hours and hours! The strains of sitting in your chair or on your bed can lead to neck, shoulder and lower back pain through pressure on the lumbar spine, over-stretching of the mid and upper back, and shortening of the chest and hips. However, various yoga techniques can be used to help relieve these tensions and daily stresses that occur at our workstations. Here’s 10 desk yoga poses to help you feel more relaxed. Learn about 5 ways to relieve and manage stress at home here.

10 Yoga Asanas You Can Try At Your Desk

It’s great to do a yoga routine before or after work, but you could also incorporate some stretches during your work hours. Stretch breaks are especially important for people whose jobs require them to sit at a desk in front of a computer for long hours, which can result in ​back pain and neck pain. Just taking a few minutes to do stretches at your desk can relieve stress, increase productivity, and most importantly, make you feel better.​ Work from home during Covid-19 brings with itself different kinds of stress, here is your guide on how to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally during the pandemic. 

1. Wrist And Finger Stretches

Working at a desk can build up tension in the fingers, hands and wrists, so these exercises should be done often throughout the day to increase the blood flow.

How To Do It:

  1. Begin by extending your arms overhead and drawing 5-10 circles inwards and outwards with the wrists. 
  2. Follow this by quickly spreading the fingers and closing the fists, releasing excess tension. 
  3. Finally, place your arms in front of you, with your palms facing upwards. 
  4. Gently apply downward pressure on each palm to stretch the wrist on each side. 
  5. Switch the palms to face downward for a counter-stretch of the forearms. 
  6. Hold each stretch for 5-10 breaths.

2. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

This pose gives a deep stretch to your sides, lengthening your spine and allowing you to return to your work with better concentration. Find here 10 excellent tips for work stress management. 

How To Do It:

  1. Turn so you are sitting sideways in your chair.
  2. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Twist towards the back of the chair, holding the back of the chair with both hands.
  4. Turn yourself 180 degrees so you are facing the opposite side of the chair to do the twist on the other side.

3. Chair Pigeon Pose (Kapotasan)

The seated pigeon pose helps us regain the balance we sometimes lose sitting in our desk chairs, whilst opening the hips and chest.

How To Do It:

  1. Whilst seated, place one leg over the other at a 90-degree angle, flexing the foot so as not to place pressure on the knee. 
  2. Remain in an upright position, keeping an even distribution on both seat bones. 
  3. When you feel a gentle to moderate stretch in the upper outer thigh, hold for 5-10 breaths. 
  4. Repeat on the other side.

4. Sit And Stand Chair Pose

This pose can help awaken the hamstring and glute muscles that become weakened over time from sitting in a desk chair.

How To Do It:

  1. Begin in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. 
  2. Pressing down with your heels and using your legs and glutes only, make your way to standing. 
  3. Sit back down slowly, again solely using your leg muscles without shifting the hips from side to side. 

5. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Eagle pose is a good preventative for carpal tunnel syndrome. It also strengthens the triceps, back and shoulder muscles.

How To Do It:

  1. Sit erect and place your arms at a 90-degree angle in front of you.
  2. Cross one arm over the other, interlocking them and placing your palms together. 
  3. Lift your elbows and stretch your fingers upwards. 
  4. Stay in this pose for 3-5 breaths before switching sides. 
  5. You can add to the pose by crossing the legs and interlocking one foot behind the other.

6. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

The seated forward bend gives the whole back of your body a good stretch, from your calves to your hamstrings (back of the thighs) to your spine. And very importantly calms the brain and helps relieve stress.

How To Do It:

  1. Push your chair back from your desk.
  2. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Interlace your fingers behind your back.
  4. Straighten your arms as much as possible, drawing your interlaced fingers down.
  5. Fold at the waist, bringing your interlaced hands over your back.
  6. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck.

7. Desk Chaturanga

Similar to a push-up, this version of chaturanga tones your wrists, arms, abs and lower back. The key is to place your body in a long, straight line from head to toe. 

How To Do It:

  1. Begin in a standing position for this pose. 
  2. Place your hands roughly shoulder-width apart on the edge of a sturdy desk, then walk the feet backwards until your chest is a diagonal line to the floor. 
  3. Inhale as you lower your body, hugging the elbows to the ribs as they reach the 90-degree angle. 
  4. Exhale as you press back up to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat 8-12 times to awaken your arm muscles, whilst helping the muscles around your neck relax.

8. Standing Seal Pose (Dwikonasana)

The standing seal pose stretches both the spine and legs, opening the shoulders. It also harmonises the connection between the heart and mind, improving mental function. Learn here how to use yoga exercises to balance your mental health.

How To Do It:

  1. Begin this pose in a standing position, keeping your legs 3-4 feet apart. 
  2. Inhale with the arms behind you, interlacing the fingers together. 
  3. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and lift the gaze upwards before folding forward at the hips, bringing your arms in front of you. 
  4. Keep the legs and arms straight, holding the pose for 4-8 breaths. 
  5. To release the pose, squeeze the shoulder blades together as you inhale back to an upright position. 
  6. Exhale to release the arms.

9. Seated Cat-Cow Stretch (Bitilasana)

Cat-Cow Stretch stretches the back torso and neck, and softly stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs. It also opens the chest, encouraging the breath to become slow and deep.

How To Do It:

  1. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your hands to your knees.
  3. On an inhale, arch the back and look up toward the ceiling.
  4. On the exhale, round the spine and let your head drop forward.
  5. Repeat for three to five breaths.

10. Restorative Pose

With the daily stresses that life offers, it’s important to restore your mind and ground yourself. And especially with covid stress and anxiety, it becomes extremely important to keep your mind calm.

How To Do It:

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor and cross your arms onto your desk. 
  2. Lay your forehead head onto your arms and breathe deeply for up to 5 minutes. 
  3. Allowing yourself to unwind means you can continue your workday with newfound energy.

Yoga is the perfect antidote to sitting at a desk all day and provides tools for dealing with the associated pressures. Yoga can reduce stress and tension. It can improve your concentration and ability to focus. It also detoxifies the body and tones muscles. You can also try these breathing exercises to relieve stress and anxiety. You can now return to work feeling energised and restored after trying these 10 desk yoga poses.

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