The human body just wasn’t made to sit at a desk all day. You can tell because the results aren’t so pleasant: your hips tighten from being confined to a chair, your neck stiffens from hunching over your work space, and your shoulders ache after typing for so long. It’s almost like our bodies are trying to tell us something about the sedentary nature of the 21st century! (Oh wait, they are…)
Here’s what they’re saying: take a break and stretch! And do it often! That’s because punctuating your time at work with just a little yoga here and there can help you stay limber and provide a refreshing break from your to-do list, not to mention ease tension and reduce stress.
And nope, you don’t need to break out your mat in the middle of the conference room. These are all moves you can do at your desk, as designed by Michelle Dalbec, a yoga instructor at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
Stand up with your feet hip-distance apart, place your hands on your desk about shoulder-distance apart. Begin to walk back while lowering your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor and your body is close to a 90-degree angle. Stay there for a few long, slow breaths. To release, walk your feet forward your desk while lifting yourself back up to stand.
While seated, take a breath in and tip your pelvis forward. Lift your chest and chin to move your gaze upward. On an exhale, tip your pelvis back, tucking your tailbone, dropping your chest and chin, and rounding out your spine. Repeat a few times before getting back to those e-mails!
Sitting up tall at the edge of your seat with your feet planted on the floor, take a big breath in and then exhale, as you twist with one hand on the back of the chair and the other on the seat behind you. Stay there for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Sitting close to the front edge of your seat, cross your right ankle over your left thigh to create a figure-four shape in your legs. Some days, that might be enough to give your outer hip a nice stretch. If you want more, exhale and fold forward over your legs for a few breaths before coming up and switching sides.
Sitting in the middle of your seat with your right hand next to you, sweep your left arm up overhead, leading it up and over to the right. Exhale. Stay there for a few breaths before returning upright and switching sides.