Whether you are working from home or in an office, spending countless hours at your desk can do a number on your body. A majority of our lifestyles require us to sit at our desks for hours each day. Unfortunately our bodies were not meant to sit for hours on end and therefore stretching and keeping your joints and muscles limber can help to be both preventative and healing for injury and pain. If you don’t take care of your body, you may have more serious health issues to deal with in the future. Practicing a few minutes of yoga can go a long way both physically and mentally. Taking short breaks to incorporate some simple movement into your day will also help to improve your flexibility and increase focus and mental clarity. Today I’m sharing a desk yoga routine that can easily be done in 5 minutes. I hope this will help ease any strain or stress in your body and give some mental clarity throughout your day.
5 Minute Desk Yoga
Beginning Posture and Breath
For all of these postures you will begin seated with feet planted flat on the ground like railroad tracks. You may need to sit further forward in your chair. Keep your spine, neck, and head lengthened and aligned as if a string is pulling your head up towards the sky. Relax your shoulders back and down, release your jaw. Come back to this seated mountain pose between each pose in order to check in with your body and breath.
Begin by bringing focus and intention to your breath. Place your hands gently on your stomach and fill your belly and chest as you inhale deeply. As you exhale slowly and smoothly feel your breath move out through your belly into your chest trying to squeeze out every last bit and then pausing at the end of the breath before starting again. Three deep breaths has been proven to have a positive effect on the amygdala and prefrontal cortex reducing stress and therefore improving mental clarity and focus. As you move through the following poses try to continue to check in with your breath and focus on long deep inhales and slow, smooth exhales. If you find your mind wandering back to work or another thought, thats okay. Notice that thought pattern and then bring your attention back to your breath.
Head, Neck and Shoulders
Neck and Shoulder Circles
After bringing attention to your breath, start movement in the head, neck, and shoulders. Beginning your short practice with some nice easy neck and shoulder circles is a great way to ease in. We spend so much time hunched over our keyboards, which does a number on our neck and shoulders. Gently bring your right ear to your right shoulder and slowly roll your chin down and around to your chest before bringing your left ear to your left shoulder. Switch directions circling back and forth. Keep your neck safe by rolling only side to side and forward, do not roll your head back past your shoulders– this vulnerable position can cause hyperextension and injury. For a deeper side neck stretch– as you move your right ear to right shoulder you can place your right hand at the top of your head and gently guide it further for a deeper stretch.
Cow Face Arm Pose
For some heart opening in your shoulder space try Cow Face Arm pose. Reach one arm up and back behind your head and down your back and the other arm behind your back and up towards your shoulders and head. If you can, try to clasp your hands together. If you have a belt or strap handy you can use this to grasp instead. Stay here for a few breaths and switch sides.
The alternative to this pose is Cow Face with Eagle Arms. Instead of reaching back, you will reach both arms in front of your body, one elbow above the other. Twist your hand around to touch the palm of your other hand. Bring your elbows up and away from your bod while pressing your hands together. Breath deeply, slowly and smoothly then gently untwist and switch sides.
Back and Spine
Cat Cow is always a wonderful pose to bring some movement and lengthening into the spine. On your inhale open your chest and heart, bringing your shoulders down and back and on your exhale round your chest and shoulders in. Repeat for several cycles opening and rounding with the breath.
Lower Back and Hips
I have chronically tight hips and lower back pain and pigeon is my go to pose if I only have time for one! It just feels so good and there is such a release in this pose both physically and mentally for me. Bring one leg up and rest your ankle on your opposite thigh/knee. Place your hands on your ankle and knee and breathe deeply. To deepen this posture leading with your chest, move your upper body over your legs. Go slowly and pause when you feel a nice gentle stretch in your hips and lower back. Don’t forget to switch sides!
Seated Forward Fold/Happy Baby
Leading with your chest and heart, slowly fold your body down over your legs. Relax your head and rest here, breathing gently. You can grab your elbows with either hand or just let your arms hang.
For Happy Baby spread your knees apart and fold forward wrapping your arms in between your legs and around the outside of your legs/legs of your chair. Feel a lengthening in your spine, hips and legs.
Seated Crescent Moon
On your next inhale, sweep your arms up above your head and clasp your hands together. Engage your core and leading with your hands open your heart and reach to the right, lengthening through your left side body. Breath here then come back to center and repeat on the left side.
Seated Side Angle
Turn your right knee out to the right side of your chair and extend your left leg out to the left. Press your right elbow to your right thigh and then extend your left arm up and over your head at a 45 degree angle. Keep your spine elongated, heart open and shoulders relaxed back and down. Breath and switch sides.
Seated Spinal Twist
On your next inhale, lead with your heart and reach your right hand behind you to grasp the back of the chair. Place your left hand on your right knee and breath here. Repeat on the left side.
Feet and Legs
Flex Point Toes
Extend your legs in front of you and alternated between pointing and flexing your toes. Feel a stretch and strengthening through your feet and calves.
With feet flat on the ground lift your heels to come to your toes. Bring heels back down and life again. Continue for a few more cycles to feel strengthening in your calves.
Yoga can be an incredibly transformative practice for both body and mind. If you are suffering from an injury, please see a doctor for a professional opinion and diagnosis. Remember to breathe through these poses in order to allow this practice to be as beneficial for your mind as it is for your body. Listen to your body as you move through each posture with intentionality– surrender for a deeper stretch and strengthening practice and ease out if you feel any pain or discomfort. Enjoy and I hope these simple practices can help make your work day more comfortable and calm.