Chair Yoga: Easy stretches you can do at your desk
Due to current circumstances, a large number of people are working from home. Many will not have had time to prepare and will be working from make-shift workspaces. With no HR team around to complete an ergonomic assessment, it’s important to pay attention to your posture throughout the day and prioritise time to stretch.
Focusing on posture, breathing and chest opening exercises, these gentle movements help combat the effects of sitting for long periods and release tension from the neck, shoulders and back. These stretches will take approximately 5 minutes to complete but you can easily extend this time by increasing the number of repetitions if you need to.
1. Start with the breath
Sitting on your chair, place your feet flat on the ground and rest your hands in your lap, palms facing up. Let the belly be soft. Take a moment to sit tall, find length from the soles of your feet, up your spine, to the crown of your head. Close your eyes and take a moment to breath. After a few rounds of breathing naturally, start to deepen your breath, focusing more on the outbreath. Perhaps introducing a count of four on the inhale and a count of six on the exhale. After 3 – 5 rounds of breath, start to flutter the eyes open and allow the breath to return to normal.
2. Shoulder rolls
On an inhale draw the shoulders up towards the ears, gently squeezing at the top. On the exhale, roll the shoulders back and down, moving in a slow and controlled way, taking time to enjoy the release. Repeat this 3 – 5 times.
3. Neck stretches
Hands rest in your lap and your head is centred, take an inhale. On the exhale drop your right ear to your right shoulder. You should feel a gentle stretch down the left side of your neck. Stay and breathe here for 3 – 5 rounds of breath. You can intensify the stretch by bringing your right hand to the left side of your head, resting it here. There should be no gripping or pulling, the weight of your hand alone will deepen the stretch. When you’re ready to come out of this, simply lower the right hand and return your head to the centre. Repeat on the other side.
4. Seated twists
Sitting tall, bring your right hand to the outside of your left knee, straighten the arm. Turn to the left and bring your left hand to the top left-hand corner of your chair. Take an inhale and find length through the spine, on the exhale start to twist your torso towards the left, moving from the midsection of the spine, keeping your head and neck in line with your chest. Repeat this 3 – 5 times, deepening the twist with every exhale, be careful not to overextend the neck. Return to centre on the inhale and repeat on the other side.
5. Shoulder stretch
Stand up and place your chair against the wall with the seat facing you. Come to a kneeling position facing the chair (you might want some additional padding for your knees, a cushion would work well here) and place your elbows shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat. Rest your forehead on the edge of the seat (again, you might want a cushion or blanket here) and press your fingertips together over your head in a prayer position. Check the positioning of your knees, if they are not already underneath your hips, slowly walk them back. Breathe into your upper chest, back and shoulders, press the elbows down and drawback through your hips. With each breath, feel your upper back releasing downward. Stay in this position for 5 rounds of breath. Gently make your way out of this and come to a kneeling position. Take a few breaths here and enjoy the sense of space you’ve just created in your upper body.
Louise is a yoga teacher and an experienced brand manager and creative producer. She has more than 10 years experience working both in-house for lululemon and Red Bull as well as agency side for Apple, to name a few. She is a certified vinyasa yoga teacher, teaching public and private classes (currently online) and also collaborates and consults wellbeing and lifestyle brands. Louise also writes a weekly email called ‘Purpose Break’ where she offers ideas for how to spend a break that’s more than just a caffeine hit. To keep up with what Louise is up to, follow her on Instagram or check our her website.