office yoga

In the fast-paced world of today’s office environment, where demands on time and energy seem unrelenting, finding moments of tranquility and self-care is paramount.

Welcome to the world of office yoga 👩‍💼🧘‍♀️ 

Finding the perfect pose will seamlessly integrate wellness into your workday. This is a guide to revitalizing your work routine through simple and effective yoga practices tailored for your desk job. Empowering you to bring balance, mindfulness, and rejuvenation to your daily grind, transforming your workspace into a haven of well-being.

Best Types Of Office Yoga

There are several types of yoga you can do in the office. Chair yoga and desk yoga, to name a couple, can help with upper back and neck pain.

Chair Yoga

YouTube video

What the science says: Scientific research supports several benefits of chair yoga, including improved flexibility, reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced strength and balance (particularly in older adults), positive effects on cardiovascular health, effective pain management (especially for chronic conditions), and increased mindfulness and focus.

The Uplifted Perspective: Chair yoga’s accessibility makes it a valuable option for anyone, including those with mobility issues. Using the seat to support your body allows a wider range of poses to be done safely. Chair yoga is great for the root chakra as it encourages a stable foundation.

Desk Yoga

What the science says: Julie Friedeberger’s book Office yoga: Tackling tension with simple poses you can do at your desk dives deep into yoga that can be done at your desk to relieve the tension and stress that accumulates during your long hours.

The Uplifted Perspective: You can literally do yoga anywhere, for any amount of time. Converting your desk chair into a sanctuary for 10 to 15 minutes is a perfect example. Use breathwork to calm the mind and body while at your desk.

Eye Yoga

What the science says: “Yoga ocular exercises reduce eye fatigue by increasing the ocular muscle efficiency” Satish Kumar Gupta and S Aparna

The Uplifted Perspective: When the majority of your work hours involve staring at a computer screen, arguably your most vital sense organ(your eyes) can understandably become fatigued. Incorporating an eye yoga practice in your office yoga routine will relieve stress and connect you deeper with your third eye chakra!

Top Yoga Poses For Yoga At Work

You don’t always need a yoga mat to complete your yoga poses. Your starting position is seated at your sturdy desk. Each of these poses will allow you to breathe deeply with your movements and melt away your stress.

1. Seated CatCow

Cat / Cow Pose - Marjariasana / Bilasana
  • Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your spine tall. Rest your hands on your knees.
  • Inhale deeply, arching your back and lifting your chest toward the ceiling. Allow your belly to move forward. (Cow)
  • Exhale slowly, rounding your spine and bringing your chin towards your chest. Feel the stretch along your back. (Cat)
  • Continue to move between the Cow and Cat positions, synchronizing your breath with the movements. Inhale for the Cow position, and exhale for the Cat position. Repeat for several breaths.

Remember during the cat movement to focus on the cervical and lumbar spine, and in the cow to focus on the thoracic and sacral spine.

Variations: The beauty of cat/cow is its versatility. You can incorporate whatever movements feel good in the spine. You can add hip circles or side bends to this pose. This is a perfect time to give your body the movement it is craving.

Benefits: This gentle spinal movement alleviates tension, promotes flexibility, and encourages mindfulness. Inhaling Cow counters the effects of prolonged sitting with openness, while exhaling Cat brings stress relief and a grounding sensation. Synchronized breath with movement cultivates a mindful connection, offering a moment of tranquility in the office hustle.

2. Chair Pigeon Pose

pigeon pose
  • Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Ensure your spine is tall, and your chest is relaxed.
  • Lift your right foot and place the outer ankle on your left knee, creating a figure-four shape with your legs.
  • Keep your back straight and engage your core. To intensify the movement, gently lean forward from your hips while keeping your spine long, feeling a stretch in the outer hip of the crossed leg.
  • Release the right foot back to the floor and switch to the other side. Lift your left foot, placing the outer ankle on your right knee, and repeat the forward lean on the left side.

Variations: Try adding a side bend to engage the upper body more. Reach the left arm to the right side while the left leg is folded over the right thigh.

Benefits: Pigeon targets hip joints, promoting flexibility in hip flexors, outer thighs, and glutes. Crossing one ankle over the opposite knee also gently stretches the lower back, offering relief from desk-related discomfort.

3. Desk Forward Bend

seated forward bend
  • Stand facing your desk with your legs straight and feet shoulder width apart. Ensure you have enough space to fold forward comfortably and you have a sturdy desk.
  • Inhale deeply, exhale as you hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight. Allow your upper body to fold forward, reach the arms forward toward your desk.
  • Place your hands on the desk for support or bring your forearms to rest on the desk surface. Choose a position that allows you to maintain a moderate stretch.
  • Lengthen your spine as you fold forward, feeling a gentle pull in your hamstrings and lower back. Hold the position for a few breaths, breathing deeply to enhance the movement. To release, inhale and slowly return to a standing position.

Variations: Try this forward fold while sitting at a desk or in a standing position to add a calf stretch. Letting go of the desk you can reach the arms straight behind you to achieve standing seal pose.

Benefits: Forward fold targets hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders, easing stiffness from prolonged sitting. The forward bend at the desk boosts blood circulation, alleviating tension and enhancing flexibility. The gentle inversion calms the nervous system, offering a moment of mental respite amid work demands.

4. Wrist and Finger Stretches

Wrist Extension Stretch:

  • Extend one arm in front of you, palms facing down.
  • Use your opposite hand to gently press down on the fingers, stretching the wrist and forearm.
  • Hold for a few seconds, feel the lengthening in the top of the wrist.
  • Repeat on the other hand.

Wrist Flexor Stretch:

  • Extend one arm in front with the palm facing up.
  • Use your opposite hand to place pressure down on the fingers, stretching the underside of the wrist and forearm.
  • Hold for a few seconds, feel the length in the wrist and forearm.
  • Repeat on the other hand.

Finger Flex:

  • Extend your arm and hold your hand out, palm facing you.
  • Gently pull back on each finger, stretching them individually.
  • Then, make a fist and release, flexing and extending your fingers wide several times.
  • Repeat on the other hand.

Wrist Circles:

  • Extend your arms in front of you or rest them on a surface.
  • Rotate your wrists in circular motions, first clockwise, then counterclockwise.
  • Perform several circles in each direction to improve flexibility and release tension in the wrists.

Benefits: An essential component of any ergonomic routine, particularly for individuals engaged in repetitive tasks or prolonged use of keyboards. These stretches offer plenty of benefits, including improved flexibility, reduced stiffness, and enhanced circulation in the hands and wrists.

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5. Seated Twist

A woman smiling and doing a spinal twist yoga pose on a purple mat
  • Inhale elongate your spine and lift through the crown of your head. Ensure your shoulder blades are relaxed.
  • Exhale, pull the belly in and gently twist your torso to one side, placing one hand on the opposite knee and the other hand behind you for support. Keep your spine tall.
  • Hold the twist for a few breaths, feeling the length along your spine and the rotation in your torso. Inhale as you return to the center, then exhale and repeat the twist on the other side.

Variations: Try this seated spinal twist dynamically. Move with the breath back and forth to the opposite side. Another variation is to incorporate eagle legs into your seated figure to engage the leg muscles.

Benefits: Seated twist promotes spinal flexibility, alleviating tension in the back and neck—common areas of discomfort after prolonged sitting. Engaging the abdominal organs aids digestion and may contribute to stress reduction. Additionally, the pose cultivates core strength, supports improved posture, and enhances overall mental focus through its meditative aspects.

6. Neck Stretches

Complete these movements following the lead of your breath. If at any point during your day, you are feeling stressed, take a few moments to stretch and relax. It will wash away the negative effects of workday stress.

Neck Tilt:

  • Sit or stand comfortably with a tall spine. Take a deep breath.
  • Slowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder.
  • Hold, feeling a gentle stretch along the side of your neck.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Neck Rotation:

  • Keep your spine tall and slowly turn your head to one side, bringing your chin over your shoulder as far as is comfortable.
  • Hold the position for a moment, feeling the length in your neck and upper spine.
  • Return to the center and repeat switching sides.

Neck Flexion and Extension:

  • Gently lower your chin toward your chest, feeling the length along the back of your neck.
  • Lift your head back to a neutral position and then tilt your head backward, stretching the front of your neck. NOTE: if tilting your head back feels uncomfortable on the neck then do not do it 😊
  • Move between these two positions with the breath

Shoulder Rolls with Neck Integration:

  • Sit or stand comfortably and roll each shoulder in a circular motion, first forward and then backward.
  • As you roll each shoulder, incorporate gentle neck movements, such as tilting or rotating your head, to release tension in the neck and shoulders.

Benefits: These stretches release neck and shoulder muscles excess tension, enhancing range of motion and alleviating discomfort from a desk job. Improved blood circulation contributes to a more comfortable work environment, reducing the risk of tension headaches and enhancing overall posture.

I have a FREE YouTube class if you want to try chair yoga for your neck and shoulders.

YouTube video

7. Leg Extensions

  • Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Straighten one or both legs and flex your feet, holding for a few seconds.
  • Lower the leg(s) back down without letting your feet touch the floor. Move your legs with your deep breaths

Variations: Try alternating your legs or reaching your legs in a diagonal line opening the IT band.

Benefits: This simple yet effective counter stretch engages the tight muscles, enhancing blood circulation and reducing stiffness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. The repetitive motion provides a quick and accessible way to interrupt sedentary work, promoting a momentary energy boost and increased mental alertness.

8. Seated Crescent Moon Pose

  • Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet firmly on the floor and your spine tall. Ensure your shoulder blades are relaxed.
  • Inhale deeply, elongating your spine and reaching upward through the crown of your head. Raise one arm overhead pressing the bicep to the ear. Keep the shoulder relaxed.
  • As you exhale, gently lean to one side, creating a lateral pull along your whole side body. Keep your opposite hip grounded to your seat and shoulders relaxed.
  • Reach for a few breaths, feeling it along the side of your body. Inhale as you return to an upright position, then exhale and repeat on the other side.

Variations: Keeping the shoulder blades still try this movement while holding both sides of your seat instead of arms overhead.

Benefits: Seated crescent moon pose variation eases spine, shoulder, and neck tension, enhancing posture and flexibility. Arching the torso sideways offers a lateral stretch, releases tight ribcage muscles and promotes spinal mobility. Regular practice fosters body awareness, reduces stiffness from sitting, and brings a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.

9. Eye Yoga “Poses”

Each simple “pose” can be tiresome so be sure to rest between exercises. Try to complete these movements while your eyes are not looking at a screen.

Eye Circles:

  • Sit comfortably and focus on a point in front of you.
  • Slowly move your eyes in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise.

Near and Far Focus:

  • Hold your thumb about 10 inches in front of your face and focus on it.
  • Then, shift your focus to an object in the distance. Alternate between near and far a few times to exercise the eye’s ability to adjust.

Palming:

  • Rub your palms together vigorously to generate warmth.
  • Cup your hands and place them gently over your closed eyes without applying pressure.
  • Relax and breathe deeply, allowing the warmth to soothe your eyes and alleviate strain.

Benefits: Eye yoga alleviates visual strain from screens and desk work, offering benefits like reduced eye fatigue, enhanced flexibility, and improved focus. Short, mindful breaks for eye yoga can prevent discomfort and revitalize the eyes.

10. Downward Dog Sitting at a Desk

downward facing dog
  • Place your hands on your desk, shoulder-width apart. From your seat, walk your feet back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Your body should form an inverted “V” shape.
  • Straighten your legs, allowing your heels to reach towards the floor. Keep your hips lifted, and maintain a straight line from your hands to your hips.
  • Gaze towards your knees or shins to align your neck with your spine. Relax your head and neck, and hold the position for a few breaths.

Variations: Downward Dog isn’t the only yoga pose you can use your desk for. Try Dolphin pose or plank pose with your study desk to support!

Benefits: This yoga pose is a gentle yet effective exercise, targeting shoulders, upper back, hamstrings, and lower back—easing tension and enhancing strength and flexibility. This inversion boosts blood flow to the brain, providing a brief energy boost and calming the nervous system. Engaging wrists and arms adds a mild strength-building component.

Closing Thoughts

The integration of yoga into the often chaotic realm of work is more than a trend; it’s a holistic approach to well-being that transcends the confines of a cubicle or a corner office.

Office yoga is not about contorting your body into pretzel shapes amidst the hum of computers and the ringing of phones. It’s about reclaiming moments of serenity in the midst of the daily grind, fostering a connection between breath and movement that transcends the boundaries of your professional life.

If you are ready to deepen your connection between breath and movement, why not book a free call for my 200 hour teacher training or check out my book to learn how you can fit yoga in all of life’s little moments of chaos.

Next Steps

  • If you’re interested in practical kriya yoga as a way to improve your daily life and relationships, check out my Yoga for Self Mastery course.
  • Order my Yoga Life book for a practical guide to creating balance in your life through yoga.
  • Check out my YouTube channel and find some yoga classes that you can try out for yourself!
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