Power up with office yoga
Loosen up and relax right at your desk.
photographed by Benjamin Benschneider
IF, BY THE end of a workday, you're still sitting up straight in your office chair, I salute you. For 10 years, I spent eight hours a day in front of a computer, and I almost always ended up in a cramped, hunched-over-my-keyboard position that would make my mother cringe.
A dedicated post-work yoga practice did not make a difference. Of course, it also never occurred to me I could do yoga at my desk.
It can be done.
A brief, midday yoga break will not only squeeze the slump and stress right out of your shoulders, it also can be the energy jolt you need during the sleepy, midafternoon stretch.
This series of poses takes five to 10 minutes and can be done easily at your desk, as long as you don't mind quizzical looks from co-workers. It helps if you're wearing jeans or slacks, but most poses can be done regardless of your office outfit. Try doing this series of poses once a day and computer hunch begone.
To start, push your chair a few feet back from your desk to give yourself some room. Close your eyes, rest hands on your legs, and count five inhales and exhales to bring your focus to your breath.
1. Neck stretch: Interlace your hands behind your low back, squeeze your shoulder blades. Tilt your head to the right, count five breaths, repeat on the other side.
2. Face stretch: Interlace hands overhead, press palms toward ceiling, shoulders drop away from ears. Breathe in, stick your tongue out, exhale deeply.
3. Modified forward fold: Fold forward, rest your chest on your legs, let your head hang. Release hands to the floor. Count five breaths.
4. Rag doll forward fold: Stand up, fold forward, let your head drop toward the floor. Take hold of opposite elbows. Sway gently from side to side. Count five breaths.
5. Deep forward fold: Stay in a forward fold, bring your feet together. Wrap arms around your legs behind your knees, holding onto opposite elbows. Deepen: Bend your knees, move your arms lower down behind your calves, straighten legs.
6. Folded Twist: Sit down. Fold forward and reach your left hand to the floor or left ankle. Breathe in, extend your right hand to the ceiling, exhale into the twist. Switch sides.
7. Hip opener: Cross your right ankle over your left knee, flex your right foot. You should feel a stretch in your outer right hip. Deepen: Fold forward, arms on either side of knee and foot. Wrap arms around entire shin underneath your knee, interlace hands for a bind. Hold for five breaths. Switch sides.
8. Twists: Sit up straight, lift the top of your head toward the ceiling to lengthen your spine. Take your left hand to the back of your chair, your right hand holds the left armrest. Use your right hand to pull yourself into the twist. Count for five breaths. Switch sides.