Whether you are going into the office or working from home you are undoubtedly sitting for longer periods of time. Research has linked prolonged periods of sitting to a higher risk of compromised metabolic health, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more — even when adults meet physical health guidelines. So how do you fix this? Other than incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can sit on a stability ball instead of a desk chair (which engages core muscles to keep you upright), utilize a standing desk, or take frequent breaks to move your body and stretch.
Here are some yoga stretches you can do at your desk to loosen your muscles, melt away tension, and help counteract the extra hours of sitting:
UPWARD DOG ON DESK
Benefits: This twist on a classic pose improves your posture and stretches out your chest, lungs, shoulders, and abs.
Begin in the Desk Push-Up position on a sturdy desk with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your torso diagonal to the floor. Press your hands into the desk, lean your hips forward, and push your chest up. Lift your chin to the sky as you hold and breathe for several seconds.
SEATED CHAIR TWIST
Benefits: This seated stretch relieves stiffness in your neck and shoulders and releases tension in your spine and back.
In a seated position, hold the outside of your right knee with your left arm and reach your right arm back behind you. Reach strongly with your right arm to keep you from leaning forward and rounding your back. Lift your chest up toward the ceiling, and press your feet down into the floor. Release and come back to the center. Repeat on the other side: now hold the outside of your left knee with your right arm and reach your left arm back. Turn your shoulders and look past your left hand (or just toward the left if it feels uncomfortable). Remember to be strong with your left arm, lift your chest high, and press your feet firmly into the floor.
SEATED NECK STRETCH
Benefits: This simple stretch, done either in a chair or on a mat, works out the tightness in your neck and shoulders associated with hunching over your phone or computer.
Sit comfortably in your chair or on a mat. Take your right arm across your head, and hold it just below your left ear. Relax your left shoulder and gently stretch this side of your neck — focus on relaxing your shoulder to create a bit of extra space between your ear and shoulder. Hold and switch sides, now draping your left arm across your head and holding it below your right ear. Stretch your neck and let your right shoulder relax away from your ear. Remember to keep your side tall rather than collapsing.
Benefits: This move targets the main muscles of your chest but also works your arms, shoulders, and core.
Take your hands to the edge of your desk (or a stationary chair or floor if your desk is unstable) and move your feet back to do some full range-of-motion push-ups. Exhale, touch your chest down to the desk and push yourself back up. Repeat for 10.
STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH
Benefits: Tight hamstrings can impact your pelvis and lower back. Stretching out your hamstrings decreases sciatica and lower back pain, gradually lengthens your thigh muscles, and increases circulation.
Step your right foot out a few inches in front of your left foot. Take your right heel to the floor and lift your toes up so your foot is at a 45-degree angle and fold forward, feeling a stretch in your hamstring. Your left knee can bend. You can take your hands to your right thigh for support, reach toward your foot for a deeper stretch, or take your hands toward the floor. Lift up to standing, then repeat on the other side.
PIGEON POSE ON DESK
Benefits: Pigeon Pose offers many benefits, such as opening your hips and hip flexors, reducing lower back pain and stiffness, and stretching your thighs, glutes, and piriformis (which can become aggravated by sciatica).
Carefully place your right shin on the desk parallel to the edge, or draw your right heel in toward your body. From here, fold forward slightly until you feel an outer hip and glute stretch, then walk your hands over to the right to add a bit of a twist and side stretch. Walk your hands back into the center and carefully switch sides.
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