Adrianne Bibby is a staff writer at FlexJobs.com and a nationally registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance.
Let’s face it: most of us have caught ourselves slumping forward with rounded shoulders over our computer keyboards, or sitting in an awkward position to try to ease the low back strain that comes with being parked at a desk for hours.
And most of us know that taking short breaks can be one of the best ways to counteract the stress and the physical discomfort that the work day can bring. If you’re lucky enough to work from home, think creatively about ways to make your home office ergonomically friendly.
Doing mini-yoga sessions can be another way to step away from the grind for a few moments, while increasing your physical strength, enhancing your flexibility, calming your breathing, and sharpening your mental focus.
You don’t have to be a regular yoga practitioner to reap some of the rewards that short bursts of yoga can offer. It’s widely acknowledged that you can get more benefits from doing a little yoga every day, rather than doing a lot of yoga every once in a while. Here are five yoga asanas, or poses, that you can do when you have a few quiet moments at your desk, or when you can escape for a bit to a spot where you won’t be disturbed.
Child‘s Pose Variation
Stand about a foot away from a cleared-off desk or table that’s about hip height, or slightly lower. Your feet should be about 6 to 8 inches apart and parallel to one another. Place the palms of your hands on the desk and slowly bend forward, sliding your hands away and stretching your arms out in front of you until your forehead comes to rest gently on the desk. Keeping your knees slightly bent to protect your lower back, close your eyes and let the weight of your upper body sink into your forearms, and let your forehead support the weight of your head, allowing your neck to release. Breathe deeply, holding the pose for a minute or more.
Benefits: Stretches the entire torso, particularly the low back and the shoulders; releases tension in the neck; rests the eyes, calms and focuses the mind. Counterbalances the effects of sitting at a desk for long periods of time.
Standing stretch/Mountain pose variation
Stand tall, making sure your feet are about hip-width apart. Clasp your hands in front of you, palms facing away, and lift them toward the ceiling, taking a deep inhale as you stretch upward. Feel a lengthening along your entire body on both sides, as you take a few evenly paced breaths. Slowly lower your hands; repeat as desired.
Benefits: Regulates and calms breathing, lengthens the spine and both sides of the entire torso, improves posture.
Modified Warrior Pose
Stand beside a sturdy chair without wheels, with the seat of the chair about two feet away from you. Place the foot closest to the chair on the chair seat, with your toes pointing away; the foot on the floor should be slightly pigeon-toed. Lean in slightly toward the elevated foot, making sure that your knee doesn’t go past your toes. Extend your arms so that they’re parallel to the floor, with the front arm reaching over your bent knee, and the other am reaching in the opposite direction. Gaze past the fingertips of your front hand. Hold for three to five deep breaths. Switch sides.
Benefits: Stretches the chest, the shoulders, and the entire length of the arms. Opens the hips, releases the lower back, and strengthens the legs.
Seated hip opener
Take a seat in a sturdy chair. Sitting tall, place your right foot on top of your left knee, right toes facing away from you. Holding the chair seat on both sides, slowly bend forward, keeping your gaze at the floor in front of you. Hold for 3-5 breaths and release, coming slowly upright. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Opens the hips, lengthens the spine, releases the low back and hamstrings.
Seated spinal twist
From a seated position, place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees about hip-width apart. Sit tall. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Your right hand can be on your low back or holding the edge of the chair seat behind you. Slowly twist, looking over your right shoulder, keeping your posture straight and holding for 3 to 5 even breaths. Slowly release, coming back to face center, and repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Extends the spine, enhances range of motion, and detoxes the deep internal organs.
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