6 Best Yoga Poses You Can Do at Your Desk

Researchers say our chair culture is literally killing us.

And they might be right: Because most of us sit at desks in front of computer screens for hours, many of us are in debilitating, chronic back pain from bad posture. What's more, tilting your head to hold your phone strains your neck and can create permanent imbalances in your cervical spine and shoulders. A sedentary lifestyle doesn't only destroy your body externally, but it also wreaks havoc on your insides.

Sitting causes organ damage, muscle degeneration, poor circulation, weight gain and fat build-up—especially around the belly. And then there's the mental aspect: When you sit hunched over at your desk, it makes your body frail, which lowers your confidence, energy and mood.

We are overworked, stressed out and obsessed with being busy. That lifestyle distracts us from achieving good posture throughout the day. While we know it's bad for us, most people need to work seated in front of a computer. If you're one of them, try these yoga poses to reverse the damage:


6 Best Yoga Poses You Can Do at Your Desk


1. Side Stretch

  • Position: Standing at your desk.
  • Purpose: To lengthen and stretch your spine and the sides of your body.
  • Benefit: This pose helps create a lift out of your pelvis in your lower back and all the way up to your shoulders and neck. This movement can help you stay tall while sitting.
  • How to do it: Stand with your feet and legs together. Keep your weight even on your feet. Inhale, lengthen your back and reach your arms overhead. Hold your right wrist with your left hand. Keep your hips and shoulders square toward the wall you're facing as you lean to the left. Gently pull with your left hand and stretch your right side. Keep your chin lifted and parallel with the floor. Hold this position for three breaths and switch to the next side.

2. Shoulder Stretch

  • Position: Standing at your desk.
  • Purpose: To align and open your shoulders and upper back.
  • Benefit: Fight back against slouching shoulders with this stretch.
  • How to do it: Stand with your feet as far apart as your outer hips, and point them straight forward. Clasp your hands behind your back. As you breath in, straighten your legs, lengthen your torso and set your shoulders back. Squeeze your arms straight. Exhale and bow forward. Keep lengthening your back. Lift your shoulders and open your upper back.

3. Neck Stretch

  • Position: Standing at your desk.
  • Purpose: To stretch your neck and back.
  • Benefit: This pose is an efficient way to alleviate tension in your neck and shoulders. It reverses what I like to call "iPhone neck syndrome."
  • How to do it: Stand with your feet as far apart as your outer hips and point them straight forward. Plant your feet firmly, with your weight evenly spread between your heels and the tops of your feet. Clasp your hands behind your back. Slide your clasp to your right hip. Inhale, lengthen your back so your shoulders are even with the base of your neck and are even across your back. Gently tilt your head to the left. Soften your jaw and your gaze. Hold for three deep breaths and switch sides.

4. Thigh Stretch

  • Position: Standing at your desk.
  • Purpose: To stretch your thighs and release your lower back.
  • Benefit: This pose opens your thighs and alleviates back pain. When you sit, your thighs likely turn out, which tucks your pelvis under and diminishes your lower back. When you open your thighs, however, you can root your legs down into their hip sockets evenly. This movement is crucial to establish a healthy lift in your back.
  • How to do it: Stand facing your desk with your feet and legs touching and your feet straight forward. Shift weight into your right foot and lift your left foot toward the back wall. Reach down and hold the outer edge of your left foot with your left hand. Hug your left knee in toward your right. Inhale, lengthen the sides of your torso and set your shoulders back. Kick your left foot back against your hand, point your left foot and flick your toes back. Take three deep breaths in this stretch before switching sides.

5. Pyramid

  • Position: Standing behind your desk.
  • Purpose: To stretch your hamstrings.
  • Benefit: If your legs get achy or numb while sitting, this posture will improve circulation, wake up your legs and relieve pain in the lower body. Pyramid pose stretches your hamstrings, and that helps you set your thigh bones back into their hip sockets and creates space to open your back.
  • How to do it: Stand about an arm's length away from your desk. Step your left foot back about 3.5 feet. Spin your back heel to the floor and angle your back foot toward the left upper corner of the room. Straighten your legs. Square your hips toward your desk. Inhale as you lengthen your back and fold forward until your back is parallel with the floor. Reach your arms forward and place your hands on the edge your desk. Press your hips back and extend through the crown of your head. Hold for five breaths and switch sides.

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Tagged under: Yoga Practice, sitting
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Drawing from over seven intensive trainings, Jake Panasevich threads the most beneficial practices from different modalities into a unique yoga experience for inflexible, stressed, over-worked regular Americans.

Jake is a yoga and wellness mentor and teacher to a large, committed group of beginners and advanced students alike. With a strong wrestling, coaching and writing backgroun...READ MORE