These At-Your-Desk Stretches Will Be The Best Thing You Try Today
Dealing with a stiff body is the worst, and sometimes we don’t even realize just how much tension we’re holding onto. This buildup of physical stress and tightness can usher in gnarly headaches, make us more prone to injury, and can even affect our ability to catch some quality shut-eye. And let’s be real, it can also make us feel like crud.
Yoga is forever touted as a viable tool that can help release built-up tension – and for good reason. It’s effective as hell. While a full-on flow is a real game-changer, it’s an unlikely option at the office. Cue office yoga, which doesn’t require you to roll out your mat and get your downward dog on in front of your colleagues.
Office yoga is all about doing simple movements at or near your desk that can help you stretch, relax, and find some grounding even on the most high-paced workdays. We reached out to two fab yogis who were eager to share their favorite office yoga moves.
1. Spinal Twist
Prepare for some seriously satisfying back cracks. Not only does a spinal twist pose feel good and help alleviate back pain, but it also strengthens your back muscles and increases their flexibility so you’re less likely to experience pain or injury in the future. As a bonus, it can help send more oxygenated blood to your brain which can help you over that midday slump. You can do this move while seated at your desk.
“In a seated position with the feet flat on the floor, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee, gently rotate your torso towards the right while taking your gaze directly behind you,” instructs Denise Prichard, holistic wellness expert for Mindbody and ClassPass. “Rest your other hand on the back of the chair to help deepen the stretch. Hold for five breaths and repeat this same movement on the left side.” Repeat as often as you like.
2. Chair Cat-Cow
Here’s another office yoga move you can do while sitting at your desk, and it’ll be a welcomed reprieve if you’ve been working long hours.
“Start by sitting towards the edge of the chair – a little away from the backrest – with your feet flat on the floor,” says Shweta Jain, a yoga instructor at MyYogaTeacher. “Place your hands on your knees and slowly, with inhalation, arch the spine starting from the tailbone, and moving up towards the neck. Similarly, with exhalation, tuck your tailbone in and pull your abdomen in gently to round your spine all the way up towards the neck.”
Jain says that taking intermittent breaks to do seated cat-cow stretches can do wonders in releasing tension while better mobilizing your entire back, chest, arms, and shoulders. It can also encourage proper alignment of the spine.
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3. Standing Chest Opener
We’re all guilting of slouching in our office chairs, but this default hunch can wreak major havoc on your body. This ultimately causes neck and shoulder pain, which is one of the most common complaints among people who work behind a computer for a big chunk of the day.
Prichard says, “This particular stretch will help you realign your spine and targets your chest, shoulders, and shoulder blade areas. It also aims to increase your flexibility and helps to improve blood circulation and posture.” #Sold.
To complete this office yoga move, start in a standing position and interlace your fingers behind your back. With your hands firmly clasped, roll your shoulders back and down. “You should feel your chest open up and a nice stretch through the shoulder area,” Prichard notes. “If you want to deepen this stretch, you can start to lift your clasped hands up slightly or gently arch your chest upward. Hold this stretch for five deep breaths and repeat this stretch at least three times.”
4. Chair Pigeon
Prolonged sedentary life can cause stiffness in your hips and thighs. Sometimes we don’t even realize how bad it’s gotten until our bodies shout a little louder at us that something’s off. Jain says that a pigeon stretch – AKA a “figure 4” – can be done on your chair and is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stretch and release tension from the hip flexors and glutes.
“Sit on a chair with feet flat on the floor and place your right ankle on top of the left thigh close to your knee,” she instructs. “Inhale to lengthen the spine and exhale to fold forward from the hips, keeping the spine straight. Rest your hands either on the thighs or hang them towards the floor depending on the extent of the forward fold.” Hold and breathe through the stretch in the right hip for five to 10 seconds and then slowly inhale and come up. Change the legs and repeat the stretch on the left side.
New to yoga? Check out this handy guide for beginners and learn all about the benefits of this underrated exercise.