5 Easy Yoga Poses To Do At Your Desk
If you work an office job, you probably find yourself spending long hours sitting at a desk. In fact, the average American sits for six to eight hours a day, which often leads to back pain and stress on the neck and shoulders. Ideally, we’d love to counteract the effects of sitting at our desks with a mid-day yoga class, but this isn’t always practical.
We chatted with LA-based yoga teacher Sally Smith to learn about ways to bring our practice off the mat and into the office. Sally is inspired by Katonah Yoga ®, a Hatha practice created by Nevine Michaan that blends Taoist theory, sacred geometries, meditation and pranayama. She teaches at Love Yoga, a boutique studio with locations in Venice Beach and Echo Park. Sally also manages both studio locations. Read on for her favorite desk yoga poses.
writer, stephanie mace
Grabbing opposite elbows:
Reach the arms over the head, and cup the opposite elbow in each hand. Use this handle you created to lift your sternum up. With your arms over your head, you can catch a good breath.
Arching and rounding the spine/ Circling the pelvis:
Stagnation breeds disease. Just because you're at a desk, doesn't mean you can't keep things moving. Arch and round the spine forward and back, and then circle around yourself through your pelvis. Go in both directions. This introduces a flow of current throughout your body, loosening up all that tension.
With your feet on the floor, take your right hand to the back of your chair, and your left hand to the outside of your right knee. Use the leverage of your hands to twist yourself to the right. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to revolve a little deeper. Switch sides. It's important to keep the muscles surrounding the spine loose, keeping you feeling more mobile and less tense.
With the left foot on the floor, stack the right ankle on top of the left knee. Tilt yourself forward to the front of your pubic bone, take your left hand to your lifted foot and the right hand to the knee and press down. For a deeper sensation, fold forward through the hinge of your hips. Sitting at a desk makes the hips less mobile, so it's helpful to do this hip-opener a few times throughout the day.
Kapalbhati is a type of breathwork practice that has energizing and detoxifying effects. Perfect for that 3:30 slump. To practice kapalbhati, begin by inhaling all the way, exhaling until empty, and inhaling just a little bit. Then take short sharp exhales out through the nose by snapping your abdomen in and up. The inhales will come naturally. Start with 10-20, and eventually you'll be pumping out over 100!
Finally, don't forget that good posture is important! It's all too common to sit at your desk, looking down at your computer screen. Eventually your shoulders start to hunch over your front and you fall back onto your tailbone. Your vision is down, and it's depressing! Tip yourself forward onto your perineum, lift your sternum, broaden your collarbones, and drop the shoulder blades down the back. Remember that physiology informs psychology. If you're hunched over like a tired, employee, that's what you'll become!