A Yoga Sequence For Office Workers
This sequence of yoga poses for office workers will help correct problems commonly associated with spending long hours sitting at a desk or in front of a computer. In our modern age poor posture is becoming increasingly prevalent. Whether we are habitually hunched over during extended periods of computer work, or slouching in an uncomfortable office chair, our bodies are regularly held for prolonged periods of time in positions where there is with an exaggerated kyphosis or forward rounding of the thoracic spine. Over time this can become deeply engrained and lead to a range of ill health effects, including back pain, neck pain, shoulder tightness, headaches, poor balance and breathing difficulties. Whilst at work this can also contribute to poor concentration and low productivity.
Yoga for people who spend long hours sitting at desks or in front of computers.
This sequence helps to combat the negative effects of office work by opening your chest and repositioning your spine towards a more healthy and upright position. It features poses that focus on; correcting rounding in the upper back, releasing tension from the shoulders and neck, creating space in the hands and wrists, removing aches and pains from the lower back, and helping to rejuvenate energy levels and decrease stress levels.
Although a specific yoga chair is used in these images a standard office style chair can also be used for each pose. The sequence can be completed within a short period of time. It can be practiced in office clothing if necessary and relies on no specific yoga equipment.
This pose is an ideal starting point for a short sequence of yoga poses that can be practiced in an office environment. Although pictured here using the top of a chair, a desk or table would also work well as a support for your hands. The pose helps to prepare your body for the sequence that follows. It simultaneously opens your shoulders, lengthens your spine, and stretches your hamstrings.
- Place your hands on the top of the chair.
- Ensure that your wrists are shoulder width and spread your fingers as wide apart as possible.
- Step your feet back to make a right angle shape with your body.
- Keep your feet hip width apart.
- Press your hands down into the top of the chair and lift and straighten your elbows.
- Align your ears with your upper arms.
- Straighten your upper back and move your chest forwards.
Head Balance Preparation
This shoulder opening pose also helps to release tension from your upper back. The ability to kneel on the floor may be dependent on what you are wearing. If kneeling is not possible this pose can be practiced by leaning forwards from a standing position, with your elbows placed on a high table or workbench.
- Place your elbows securely on the support.
- Ensure that your elbows are shoulder width apart, and near to the edge of the support.
- Place your hands together into a prayer position with your fingers pointing directly upwards.
- Begin with your forehead resting to the edge of the support.
- A more intense opening can be achieved by allowing your head to hang down between your upper arms.
- Keep your outer armpits turn downwards.
- To prevent your lower back dipping, move the front of your pelvis slightly forwards, and the back of your pelvis away from your spine. as a consequence of this your navel will draw upwards a little towards your spine.
- Check that your chest remains parallel to the floor.
This variation of trikonasana releases you back and shoulders whilst stretching and strengthening your legs muscles.
- Position your chair towards the far end of your mat with the back of the chair facing you.
- Step your feet apart. The distance between your feet will be about the length of one of your legs.
- Turn your left foot slightly in.
- Turn your whole right leg out to the side.
- Place your right palm onto the top of your chair and push the chair away from you as you come into the pose.
- Keep your left arm parallel with the floor.
- Press your palm firmly into the frame of the chair and straighten the elbow of this arm.
- Contain your left side ribs towards your spine.
- Lengthen your right side ribs towards the chair.
- Turn your right waist and right chest upwards towards the ceiling.
- Roll your left shoulder back.
- look up towards the ceiling.
This variation of the standing pose parsvottanasana is great for stretching leg muscles that can begin to shorten and tighten as a result of long periods spent sitting in a chair.
- Place the chair towards the far end of your mat with the front of the chair facing you.
- Step your right foot forwards in the direction of the chair.
- Turn your left foot deeply in.
- Ensure that the front of your right leg is facing directly forwards.
- Reach forwards and place your hands onto the seat of the chair.
- Press the inner edge of your right foot down.
- Lift your right outer thigh crease up and back.
- Turn your left inner groin back.
- Press your left shin back as you reach back and down with your left heel.
- Pressing your hands down into the seat of the chair, move your chest forwards.
- Look forwards.
Like many of the other poses in this sequence, parvatasana can be practiced independently as a stand alone pose whilst at work. In addition to opening the chest and shoulders, this simple arm action can also release the hands and wrists.
- Whilst sitting in your chair, raise your arms to shoulder height and bring your hands together.
- Interlock your fingers.
- Maintaining this interlock, turn your hands so that your palms face away with your thumbs turned downwards towards the floor.
- Straighten your elbows without lifting your shoulders.
- Keeping your elbows straight, start to raise your arms upwards.
- With practice your arms will be able to come to a vertical position with your upper arms aligning with your ears. Prioritise keeping your elbows straight as your arms come back. Stop short of the point where you are unable to maintain straight elbows.
- Lift your arms and chest simultaneously.
- Lengthen your inner wrists upwards.
- Turn the little finger side of each hand back towards the shoulders.
- Project the centre of each palm towards the ceiling.
- Relax the muscles associated with your jaw and throat.
Like other poses in this sequence, the garudasana arm action can be practiced as an individual pose in isolation from the sequence as a whole.
- Start by extending both arms out to the side at shoulder height.
- Keeping your elbows straight, cross your right arm over your left arm. Your right elbow will now sit directly on top of your left elbow.
- Bend your elbows so that your forearms become perpendicular to the floor.
- For the moment keep your hands apart and ensure that your little fingers are turned away from your face.
- If you are working with particularly stiff shoulders it may be necessary to stay at this point and consolidate.
- To progress with the pose, bring your left hand closer to your face and take your right hand around the front of your left hand. You can now clasp the base of your right thumb with your left fingers.
- Check that your right elbow is shoulder height.
- The right shoulder tends to push up towards the ear. Move it down and out to the side so that your shoulders are level.
- As you move your right shoulder down ensure that your forearms remain vertical.
- Turn your little fingers directly away from your face, and your thumbs directly back at your face.
A great pose for releasing tight shoulders.
- Raise your right arm.
- Keeping your arm raised, bend your elbow so that your finger tips touch the back of your right shoulder.
- Ensure that your fingers align with the back of your shoulder as opposed to veering towards the centre of your torso.
- Reach up with your left hand and place your palm on top of your right elbow.
- Press your palm directly down, and with equal force press your elbow straight up.
- Avoid clutching at the elbow with your fingers as this tends to pull the elbow towards your skull.
- Keep your palm flat and use the hand to keep your elbow directly aligned with your shoulder.
- As you press your elbow into your hand turn your right outer upper arm forwards. This will help to create space for your shoulder.
- Turn your right outer arm forwards, and simultaneously keep the left side of your chest forwards.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Variation
If you are regularly spending long periods of time sitting in chairs you may find that your hip flexors begin to tighten. This pose helps you return length to the hip flexor muscle group.
- Place the chair at the end of your mat.
- Position your right foot beside the chair.
- Step your left foot back. The distance between your feet will be roughly the length of one of your legs.
- Place both hands onto the seat of the chair as you bend your left knee down to the floor. If you are practicing on a hard floor surface you may need to place some cushioning under your knee.
- Allow you pelvis to sink downwards and forwards.
- Pressing your hands firmly onto the seat of the chair allows you to support your body weight with your arm strength. This helps your hips to more freely sink downwards and forwards.
- Turn your left hip forwards and turn your left buttock away from your right buttock so that the front of your pelvis faces directly forwards.
- Lift your chest forwards and upwards.
- Roll your shoulders back and down.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
This pose is great for re-opening the upper part of your chest that tends to collapse when you are seated at your desk. It can also be a quick and easy way to revitalise energy levels and combat drowsiness.
- Stand facing your chair.
- Grip the seat of the chair with your fingers wrapping around and underneath the side edges of the seat.
- Ensure that you are able to press firmly down with the heels of your hands.
- Straighten your elbows and step your feet back so that your legs are perpendicular to the floor.
- Check that your feet are hip width apart.
- Keeping your elbows straight, lunge your pelvis forwards and downwards so that your pubic bone comes near to the edge of the chair.
- Keep your toes tucked under. This is different to the more conventional foot position in urdhva mukha svanasana where your toes point back.
- Straighten your knees and lift your shins up.
- Without dropping your knees, move your tailbone in.
- Allow your chest to pass through your upper arms.
- Move your chest forwards and upwards.
- Resist your shoulders back and down.
- Move your thoracic in.
- Lift your side ribs and sternum bone.
- Whilst sitting in your chair with your knees bent, slide towards the front edge of the chair seat.
- Slide right to the edge of the chair so that your sitting bones are just off the edge of the chair, but with your tailbone just remaining on the chair.
- Reach behind and hold the side edges of the chair with both hands. Grip the seat of the chair with your fingers wrapping around and underneath the seat. Ensure that you are able to apply firm downward pressure into the seat with the heels of both hands.
- Straighten both legs. When your legs fully straighten your heels will be in contact with the floor but the balls of your feet will be off the floor.
- Before lifting your pelvis up, ensure that your chest is lifting to full capacity. To achieve this press your hands down, tuck your shoulder blades in and lift the sides of your rib cage up.
- Maintaining this lift in your chest, exhale and start to raise your pelvis forwards and upwards.Your heels will need to press down in order for your hips to lift. Once your hips have lifted press the balls of your feet down.
- Turn your calves outwards and press your big toe bases downwards.
- Press your hands firmly down and lift your shoulder blades and chest upwards.
- Look upwards. Eventually your gaze will look bak towards the wall behind but without letting the full weight of your skull hang back.
- Lengthen both sides of your neck from your ears towards your collarbones.
- As your chest lifts, allow your navel to soften downwards towards your spine.
- With an exhalation release out of the pose by returning your hips back to the seat of the chair.
A quick and easy pose for people who tend to hunch their upper back and slouch forwards.
- Kneel in front of your chair..
- Shuffle backwards until the back of your pelvis lightly touches the seat of the chair.
- Keep your knees apart maintaining a hip width distance between them.
- Reach back and place the palms of your hands on the seat of the chair.
- Pressing your shins down, move your hips forward so that the front of your pelvis aligns directly over your knees.
- Press your hands firmly down onto the chair and lift your chest forwards and upwards.
- Move your dorsal spine deep into your body and lift your sternum bone and side ribs upwards.
- Look directly upwards.
- As your head moves back move the base of your neck in and lengthen the sides of your neck from your ears towards your collar bones.
- Whilst maintaining the lift in your chest allow your navel to soften back towards your spine.
Ustrasana Shoulder Variation
This variation of the same pose starts to focus more on improving shoulder mobility.
- Move back so that the seat of the chair comes closer to the back of your pelvis.
- Reach back and take hold of the back frame of the chair with both hands.
- Start to walk your hands up the frame of the chair.
- Incrementally walk the hands higher until you find a challenging but sustainable stretch for your shoulders.
- Keep your shoulders rolling back and down.
- Keep your deltoid muscles facing out to the sides.
- Keep the sides of your ribcage lifting.
- Keep the centre of your chest lifting.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Chair Variation
This pose will target your gluteals and help to release your back.
- Position your chair near to a wall.
- Sit in the chair and cross your right leg over the top of your left leg.
- Place the right outer ankle on the centre of your left thigh.
- The ankle should sit slightly back from the knee. When correctly positioned the right shin bone will be parallel to the wall.
- Gently flex your right toes back towards the shin. This will maximise hip opening and minimise twisting of the knee joint.
- Keeping your spine straight lean forwards and place your hands to the wall.
- Keep your right outer thigh turning downwards as your torso moves forwards.
- if you wish to intensify the stretch move your chair further away from the wall.
- Equally, the chair can be moved closer to the wall to lessen the intensity of the stretch.
Lower back pain is a common problem in office environments where people spend long periods sitting at desks. This pose can be great for bringing relief to an aching lower back.
- Sit as far back as possible in your chair.
- Make sure that your feet can easily reach the floor. If your heels are lifting up then place something under your feet. Objects such as books or magazines can be used for this purpose.
- Position your feet so that that are slightly wider than the width of shoulders.
- Reach forwards and place both hands on the floor between your feet. Your hands will touch the floor slightly forwards of where your feet are positioned.
- Ensure that your shoulders have passed in-between your knees.
- Keep your sitting bones pressing firmly down into the seat of the chair. This will prevent the front of your pelvis from tipping forwards and create a feeling of traction across your lower back.
- Press your inner heels to the floor.
- Keep your inner knees gently in contact with your shoulders.
- Relax your neck and let your head hang.
- If your lower back feels tight there is no need to take the pose further. keep your hands to the floor.
- Otherwise, fold your arms with your hands holding your elbows.
- Spend some time in this position allowing your back to release and relax.
This variation of the seated twist bharadvajasana is another great way of releasing your back without the need to get up from your chair.
- Sit sideways on your chair with your right leg closest to the back of the chair.
- Place your feet hip width apart with your ankles directly under your knees.
- Turn to the right so that your chest faces towards the back of the chair.
- Place both hand on the back rest of the chair. Choose a height for your hands that allows your shoulders to relax back and down.
- Press your left heel down and draw the thigh bone of this leg back towards your pelvis. This action will help to keep you knees level as you twist. Left unchecked your left knee will tend to push past the right knee.
- Use the leverage of your hands pressing against the frame of the chair to gradually deepen the twist.
- Lift your left waist up as you turn.
- Lift the left side of your chest up as you turn.
- Roll your right shoulder back as you turn.
- With each inhalation lift.
- With each exhalation turn.
This variation of savasana is also a great option for practicing in isolation anytime you have an aching lower back.
- Lie down with your calves resting on the seat of your chair.
- Ensure that the edge of the seat comes all the way to the backs of your knees.
- Rather than positioning your knees directly above your hips, allow your thighs to slant slightly away from your pelvis.
- Place a folded blanket under the back of your skull so that your chin and forehead are level.
- Place your arms out by your sides with your palms facing upwards.
- Ensure that your calves are resting into the seat of the chair.
- Observe how your lower back has an improved ability to release down and into the floor with your legs in this position.
- With you eyes shut release and relax your whole body.