7 Simple and Easy Office Yoga Exercises
Hey yogis and workaholics and workaholic yogis… this blog post about easy office yoga is for you. But don’t worry, no experience is required. Within the past year or two my business has grown a lot and I am spending more and more time on my computer, so I welcome you to my office. When I feel tension and tightness creeping in or my posture disintegrating I work a few of these postures into my breaks.
Please don’t mind the cat butt or the melting dog face. There is always at least one pet in my office and today there were three.
I try to be super mindful about my posture, but I find myself starting to slump, or lean on an elbow or jutting my head forward… I’m seriously probably doing a combination of these three right now..ugh. I am fortunate that I work from home so I can get up and stretch, go for a walk or do some sun salutations pretty easily, but that’s not always the case. When I’m limited for time I will pick just a couple of these simple yoga exercises… and sometimes I will add in a low lunge to stretch out my ridiculously tight hip flexors.
There are plenty of opportunities to work these easy office yoga into your work routine that won’t make your coworkers weirded out (too much), but really… who cares? Here are 7 easy office yoga exercises you can do to reduce stress and tension, to improve your mood, and boost your circulation.
1. Easy Office Yoga for Your Back & Shoulders: Seated Cat-Cow
This movement is so simple and so overlooked. Seated cat-cow is a backbending and rounding motion and help relieve tension and tightness in the back, shoulders, neck and hips. Cat-cow can even help relieve tension headaches.
Sit forward on the front edge of your chair and bring your hands to your thighs. For this exercise you will coordinate breath with movement. On your inhale breath you will tilt your pelvis forward and lift your chest and your gaze up to the ceiling to arch your back and backbend your spine. On your exhale breath begin by tilting the pelvis back, pulling your navel to spine and drawing chin to chest as your round your back. Repeat 5-10 times connecting breath with movement.
2. Easy Office Yoga for Your Spine: Seated Twist
Twists massage and tone our abdominal organs and release tension in our lower backs. Twists also stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, so they are calming in nature. Gentle twists are also beneficial for our intervertebral discs.
Sit tall in your chair with both feet firmly planted on the ground and hips width apart. Bring your left hand to the outer edge of your right thigh and your right hand to the outer edge of your chair (on the right side) or to the back of the chair (see photo). Inhale to lengthen your spine and sit a little taller and exhale to twist. Draw your gaze over your right shoulder. Keep the spine long as you twist. Hold for 5-7 breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Easy Office Yoga Exercise for Your Hips and Lower Back: Seated Figure 4
Tight hips can contribute to lower back pain. This seated figure 4 stretch is the perfect stretch for the piriformis.
Sit forward on the front portion of your chair. You want your sit bones (the bony protuberances that you sit on) at the bottom of your pelvis to be almost to the edge of your chair. To start cross your right ankle with foot flexed over your left thigh. Let your right knee drop down. See how this feels. If this feels okay you can use the right hand to gently press the right knee down while tilting the pelvis slightly forward. Hold for 10 breaths and then switch sides.
4. Easy Office Yoga for Your Lower Back: Seated Forward Fold
In your seated forward fold you have an opportunity to release the muscles of your back.
Sit forward on the front edge of your chair, knees bent, feet planted hips width apart. Inhale and lengthen your spine long and exhale hinge forward from your hips and bring your belly to your thighs. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
5. Downward dog at your desk, chair or wall.
Downward dog stretches the muscles of the shoulders, the side body and the muscles of the back body.
Bring hands shoulder width distance to the edge of your desk, your chair back or the wall and walk your feet away until your back can straighten and your biceps are by your ears. It’s okay to have the knees bent if you need to… the focus is on straightening the back.
6. Easy Office Yoga Exercise For Your Eyes
Eye exercises can help relieve strain in the eyes while toning the optic nerve. It will also help relieve any tension you may hold around your eyes.
To start just find a comfortable seat. Begin with a side to side motion. Taking the gaze all the way to the right and then all the way to the left without strain. Repeat 5 times to each side. The change the gaze to move to the top and bottom of your vision. Repeat 5 times each. Then do circles with your eye gaze. Letting the gaze draw a circle around the outer edges of your vision. Repeat 5 times clockwise and 5 times counter clockwise. Slow down the motion in the places the eyes get a little jumpy or sticky. Then close your eyes, bring the palms of your hands together and rub them together quickly until heat is generated and then bring your palms to your eyes. Leave the hands there until they’ve cooled.
7. 5 minute Pranayama and Meditation for Wellbeing
Take 5 minutes for a gentle breathing and meditation exercise. Sitting comfortable in your chair or outside in a quiet place close your eyes and begin to bring your awareness to your breath. Set a timer for 5 minutes (so you won’t be late to return to work). At first just notice the breath without changing it. Become aware of its texture, the quality, it’s depth without judging or labeling it. Then begin to deepen your breath. Inhale for 4 counts. Pause at the top of your inhale. Exhale for 4 counts. Pause at the bottom of your exhale. Breathe in this manner for 10-15 breaths. Then allow your breath to return to normal. Follow your breath for the remaining time with eyes closed. When your mind wanders off bring your awareness back to your breath.
Yogi’s I’d love to hear how these yoga exercises influence your mood, attitude, and productivity in the office. Feel free to shoot me a private message. I am also available for corporate yoga sessions and would be happy to guide your staff in weekly/biweekly/monthly in-office yoga classes. I have plans available for both small and large offices. Contact Autumn for more information.