Are you too busy chasing that never-ending deadline, or making perpetual efforts to meet your sales target, or simply focussing on your productivity and performance that by the end of the day, you are completely drained out and find it extremely difficult to hit the gym or workout for a bit? This is why we have brought 10 simple yoga poses that anyone can do at their desk every now and then to keep themselves fit and healthy.
Given the era we’re in, it is a no brainer that most of us are swamped at work and it is practically impossible to carve out dedicated time for self-care and exercise. Office culture is governed by pressure to perform and most of the work is tied to sitting on a desk working on a computer. Unfortunately, the constant sitting, use of technical devices, and lack of bodily movements create unhealthy physical patterns and postures in the human body.
According to a recent Gallop study, 80% of workers feel stress on the job. Nearly half of those workers believe they need help with stress management. A follow-up poll found that 35% of workers felt their jobs were harmful to their health, and 42% reported that job pressure was interfering with their personal relationships.
What are the side effects?
Daily physical movement for office people is limited to walking around the office, typing, or reaching for a ringing phone. This sedentary lifestyle leads to what some people call ‘Sitting Disease’. Working in an office, slouching for a prolonged period of time can put a strain on the neck, shoulder, back muscles, and hips. Some of the alarming effects include excess weight gain, a higher risk of heart disease, stiffness in joints and muscles, and also depression. If not addressed, it could impact your ability to function effectively at work and can even drastically shorten your lifespan.
What is the Solution?
What if I tell you there is a way to break off from this vicious cycle and give your body just the right amount of physical movement it needs and that too without taking a hefty chunk off your wallet! Oh, and did I mention ‘’WITHIN OFFICE HOURS’’?
Yes, I am talking about the burgeoning practice of Office Yoga or Desk Yoga that promotes a healthy lifestyle and helps you maintain a work-life balance. Desk Yoga is a highly effective practice with many long-term benefits and the best part is, you can do it while you are at your office! This specifically designed yoga poses focuses on targeted body movements and stretching that requires no longer than 10-15 minutes from your office schedule. Practicing these desk yoga poses along with some mindful meditation practices has the potential to eliminate the negative health consequences of sitting at a place for 8-10 hours.
Along with these yoga poses, try to soak your body in natural sunlight for 15-20 minutes every day. Consume fruits while working or between your meals.
What are the benefits of desk yoga?
Yoga is the perfect anecdote to sitting at a desk all day. Not only it helps you with concentration and ability to focus but also detoxifies the body and tone the stiffed muscles along with improving your posture and flexibility. Adapting desk yoga and meditation as a part of your office routine can work wonders on your physical as well as mental health, keeping you fresh and rejuvenated all day.
There are many benefits of incorporating desk yoga at your workplace. Some of the most effective benefits are listed below:
1. Improved Posture
Being seated all day on a chair, slouching, and hunched forward to stare at the computer is damaging your posture, detrimental to your health, and can cause severe back and neck pain which could further hamper your health and productivity. Yoga can relieve pain through its stretches and specifically designed poses that helps in increasing flexibility and prevents stiffness and joint pains.
2. Increased Focus
These Yoga poses clubbed with meditation can help you clear away the mental clutter helping you to be more alert, focussed, and productive in your office. A stressful corporate life can create mental imbalance and as a result, it can impede your ability to concentrate on tasks at hand. These simple poses of yoga and meditation play a significant role in improving the ability to focus in a demanding work environment.
3. Reduced Stress
Stress is one of the major factors that affect productivity and health. And it is a proven fact that long hours at work can be very stressful which usually results in employee absenteeism, workplace accidents, and a drastic decrease in productivity. With the help of yoga and meditation, you can easily reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and combat stress and its negative effects. Regular practice of these yoga poses and meditation practices are highly effective in reducing stress and allows you to work peacefully.
4. Increased Creativity
It is a known fact that yoga increases focus and concentration making people more productive. Creativity is directly proportional to this as the more concentrated you are the more creative you tend to be. Practicing yoga and meditation is the ultimate key to balance the body, mind, and soul. It also broadens your creative expression which results in the inability to complete tasks creatively and uniquely.
5. Better Flexibility
This is the most important aspect of desk yoga. Working 8+ hours and spending most of the time sitting on a chair takes a toll on your body leaving you with several bodily problems. Regular practice of yoga not only increases your flexibility but also provides your body the stretching and movements it needs in order to stay active. Desk yoga helps you correct your posture which can be very harmful if left unattended. And besides, being flexible has a lot of benefits such as lowers blood pressure and reduced chronic joint pain
We have curated a detailed list of some of the most effective postures that will help you get through each day a little happier and healthier. This sequence comprises of deep stretches and quiet meditation practices. Regular practice of these can give your immune system a boost, open your interior spaces, clear your mind so you can perform at your peak.
List of Desk yoga options
1. Neck Rolls
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect and palms on your thighs.
- Close your eyes and let your chin drop down to your chest.
- Now slowly begin to circle your neck in clockwise rotation taking the right ear to the right shoulder, the head back, and the left ear to the left shoulder.
- Do not hurry to faster your rotation. Try to relax and enjoy the process.
- After 5-7 rolls, switch directions and take another 5-7 rolls.
2. Wrist and Finger stretch
- Be seated with an erect spine, drop your shoulders down your back, and lift up through your chest.
- With an inhalation, extend your right arm out in front of your chest. As you exhale, point your fingers up and press through the palm of your hand, as if you are trying to press an imaginary wall.
- As you inhale again, reach your left arm straight out and place your left hand on the palm side of your right hand, only from the right fingers up (not covering the palm of your right hand).
- Now, slowly pull back with your left hand, and press out gently through your right hand, being mindful not to extend the fingers on your right hand back, but rather to maintain gentle but firm pressure.
- Take a few deep breaths here and repeat on the other side.
3. Shoulder Opener
- Stand straight with your feet apart keeping a few feet distance from your desk.
- Bend forward and place your hands on your desk/table/hard surface keeping your body at a right angle.
- Keep reaching your hands with straight arms until you feel a stretch through your chest, shoulders, and upper back.
- Do not worry about your legs bending a little from the knees as this stretch is all about your shoulders.
- Hold onto this position for 3-5 breaths and slowly get back to your starting position.
4. Seated Mountain Pose
- Grab a chair and sit up straight, hands on your knees, ankles right under your knees and feet flat on the surface. (Side Note: Most of the Chair Yoga exercises will begin with this pose.)
- If you can, sit at the front edge of the chair.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale, push down your lower body and buttocks into the chair and simultaneously lift your chest and heap upwards giving a fine stretch to your spine.
- Try to focus at some point in your room keeping your head level.
- Hold onto this pose for few minutes, notice your breathing, and then slowly get back to normal position.
5. Seated Cat-Cow Stretches
- Sit straight with your hands placed on your thighs (refer to seated mountain pose).
- Now with an inhalation, gently arch your spine pushing your chest and belly forward, looking slightly up.
- Exhale and gently round your spine, looking slightly down towards your belly button.
- Repeat this a few times.
6. Dancer’s Pose
- Stand straight with the hip-width distance between your feet.
- Bend your right knee and place your right feet at your buttocks.
- With your right hand, reach back to grab the outside or inside of your right ankle.
- Press your knee down, and keep the inside of your right knee as close to the inside of your left knee as possible.
- Flex through your right foot, toward the back of the room, as you keep sending your knee down with hips straight forward.
7. Desk Chaturanga
- Begin in a standing position.
- Place your hands at roughly shoulder-width apart on the edge of your desk or a table and then walk the feet backward until your chest is a diagonal line to the floor.
- Inhale as you lower into Chaturanga, hugging the elbows to the ribs as they reach the 90-degree angle.
- Exhale as you press back up to the starting position.
- Repeat 10-12 times to awaken your arm muscles, whilst helping the muscles around your neck relax.
8. Seated Backbend
- Sit comfortably on a chair and place your hands near your hips.
- Push into the chair, and reach your shoulder blades down and back.
- Gaze up and stretch your chest as much as you comfortably can.
- Hold onto this position for a few seconds.
- With an exhalation, come back to the starting position.
9. Seated Forward Bend
- Begin with sitting straight on the chair. Spine erect and hands resting on your thighs.
- Lean forward keeping the spine straight. Try to touch your thigh with your chest.
- Hold onto this pose for a few breaths. You will feel a slight pressure on your intestines.
- It helps with digestion as well as stretches your spine and back muscles.
- Now inhale and slowly lift your torso back to the normal position.
- Repeat a few times.
10. Gentle Seated Twist
- Firstly, we will get into the seated mountain pose.
- Now place your left hand on your right knee and right hand on your right hip.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale, gently turn your body toward the right and look over your right shoulder.
- Hold this twist for fee seconds and feel your breathing while you are at it. You might notice sensations around your spine.
- While exhaling, slowly come back to the seated mountain pose.
- Repeat this for the left side.
11. Mindfulness Meditation
- Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. Observe your breathing rhythm and feel the effects of inhaling and exhaling all over the body.
- Close your eyes.
- When you feel calm, your mind might wander here, and there, many thoughts might rush in, do not run away from these thoughts. Give attention to your thoughts, try to analyze your thought without any judgment.
- Do not get too involved with one thought, just let it pass.
- This kind of meditation helps to create awareness of one’s own thought process.
- It is easy and can be practiced alone.
Yoga has been scientifically proven to provide mental and physical benefits. It’s about time we normalize Yoga in our office/workplace to reap the benefits like improved productivity and increased employee motivation.