Long days at the office can often leave you feeling stiff and lacking energy. It's well known that sitting is bad for us, but sometimes you just can't get around it.
Luckily you can incorporate a few simple yoga movements into your office days, all which you can do without busting out the yoga mat or changing into comfy pants. These yoga poses for the office are especially helpful for the shoulders and hips, which tend to take the biggest hits.
1. Wrists and Forearms
During office life, the fingers and wrist are working a lot, but don't get stretched very often.
Start with rotating your wrists, drawing big circles to both direction. Then stretch out one hand at a time, palm up, fingers facing down, and with the other hand pull your fingers towards you. This will give a great stretch on the forearm. Keep for 10 long breaths, and switch sides.
2. Arms up!
Once in a while it's good to lift up those arms and enjoy a stretch towards the sky. Sit with your back straight, and check that your neighbor is not sitting within arm's length.
Lift up your arms from the side, palms down until you reach shoulder level. Once your arms are shoulder level, turn your palms to face the ceiling, and continue to lift your arms up until your palms are touching. You can interlace your fingers, palms facing up, and stretch gently from side to side, giving the sides of your body also a nice opening. Stretch from side to side 4 to 6 times.
3. Opening the Shoulder Blades
Sit comfortably with both feet on the ground. Bring your hands to shoulder level in front of you, palms facing away. Imagine that there is a big door in front of your palms, as you start opening and closing the door only by moving your shoulder blades.
Push gently your arms forward, isolating the movement to the shoulder blades, trying to get them as far away from each other as possible. Then bring the shoulder blades as close to each other as possible. Repeat 5 to 6 rounds and give your upper back a nice movement massage.
4. Eagle Arms
This is a great stretch for the upper back and the shoulders. Bring your arms straight in front of you, and cross the arms bringing the right arm underneath the left, until your elbows are stacked.
Turn your upper arms towards the ceiling, and cross your hands so that your palms are facing each other. If this is not comfortable, keep the backs of your hands touching.
Lift both elbows until you feel a nice stretch on your upper back and shoulder blades. Keep for 6 to 8 long breaths, and switch sides.
5. Seated Twist
Twists are very healthy for your spine, and easy to do using your chair as support.
Sit sideways on your chair, with your back straight, and your knees and ankles together. Take a hold of the back of the chair, and assist yourself with your arms to a twist. If you cannot sit sideways, just use the armrest and back of the chair for your twist. With an inhale, focus on lengthening the spine, and with an exhale, sink deeper into the twist. Stay for 3 to 4 long breaths and slowly release. Repeat on the other side.
6. Needle Pose on the Chair
The hips tend to get tight if we need to sit for prolonged periods of time, and this hip pose is great for tight outer hips.
Sit on the edge of your seat, and remove shoes. Bend your right leg, and lift up your ankle on top of the left knee. If you feel a stretch here, you can stay here for 8 to 10 breaths. Be mindful that you don't feel pain in your knees. If you would like to stretch deeper, lean your upper body towards your legs until you feel a good stretch. Repeat on the other side.
7. Forward Fold
You can remain seated in your chair and drop your upper body down, resting on your legs. Arms are reaching towards the floor, as if you just dropped a pen on the floor. Alternatively, you can stand up, bend your knees and start folding forward until your stomach meets your thighs.
Rest your hands on the floor, or grab a hold of your elbows and release the neck. Let the gravity help you revitalize you by bringing more blood flow to the upper body and head, while your neck and back are receiving a nice release.
8. Down Dog on a Chair
Stretch your shoulders open with this modified version of the Downward Facing Dog.
Place your hands on the back of your chair, and step far enough so you can lower yourself to hip level, keeping the arms straight. Look down and enjoy for 5 to 6 breaths.
Keeping your body healthy and supple is easy no matter where you are. Stretch through these poses mid-morning and/or mid afternoon to keep yourself energized and vital. Maybe you can even motivate some colleagues to join you!
Image Credit: Kaisa Kapanen