Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk (Right Now!)

Even though I teach yoga for a living, I still manage to spend most of my days behind a desk, running the daily operations at the yoga studio and working on our retreats. If I don’t make myself get up to take (or teach) a yoga class, I’m capable of not getting out of my chair for 12 hours. No bueno!

Don’t be like Nat! Try to get up and away from your desk every hour for 5 minutes and come back with refreshed focus. Also give these stretches a try from any desk or cubicle, anytime!


Seated Spinal Twist


This one works best on a chair with a back rest. If you’re on a stool, use the nearest wall.
Place your right hand on the back of your chair and your left hand on the edge of your desk (or on the armrest of the chair).

Take a big inhale to sit up taller and lengthen your spine. On your exhale, begin to twist your torso to the right, finding the twist from your bellybutton. Relax your shoulders and allow your head to turn to the right if it feels ok on your neck.
Hold for 3-5 breath cycles. Get taller with each breath in, and twist a little deeper with each breath out. Repeat on your left side.

This pose helps to improves digestion, and feels great for your spine after sitting for a while.  

Seated Hip Stretch

Sit back in your chair and cross your right ankle over your left knee/thigh. Flex your right foot and think of opening your knee out and down towards the floor. Take a deep breath in as you sit up straight, and on your breath out gently lean forward, stabilizing yourself with your forearms on your desk. Breathe into the stretch in your outer hip. Hold for 3-5 breath cycles and repeat on your left side.

This pose is amazing for relieving tight hips from sitting and/or driving and relieving sciatic pain from a tight piriformis muscle (lower butt muscle).


Eagle Arms Shoulder Stretch


Sit up tall. Reach your arms straight in front of you. Cross your right elbow on top of your left elbow. Double bind your hands, bringing your palms together (if you can). If that's not possible today, just wrap your hands around the opposite shoulders (giving yourself a hug!).
On an inhale lift your elbows forward and up, and on your exhale, slide your shoulder blades wide apart. Take 5 deep breaths right into the space between your shoulder blades, then switch arms.  

This pose will open up your shoulder joints, creating space between your shoulder blades, relieve upper back stiffness, increase circulation and improve focus.

Wrist & Finger Extensor Stretch

If you spend most of your day typing, your finger extensors (the muscles that run from your fingers to your elbow) are probably tight from overwork in the same hand position all day. This can result in wrist pain and tightness. This easy stretch will improve your wrist mobility and reduce any built up tension. 

Start by holding your arms out in front of you. Flex your left wrist bringing your fingers towards your forearm and use your right hand to apply gentle pressure to help deepen the stretch. Hold for 5 breaths. Turn your hand over and pull your fingers back towards you with your palm facing out (extending the wrist). Hold for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other wrist.


Neck Release


Sit up tall and soften your shoulders down away from your ears. Wrap your right arm behind your back and roll your right shoulder-head back. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, tilt your left ear to your left shoulder for a neck stretch on the right side. If you need a little more, bring your left hand to the right side of your head and gently assist in deepening the stretch.
Take several deep breaths, and try tilting your head forwards or backwards to get into the back of your neck, and up underneath your jaw. Look for tight spots and return your head to neutral and pause between both sides.

Shoulder Stretch

Stand in front of your desk, conference table or any other table! Place your elbows on the edge of the desk and walk your feet back so that your hips are stacked over your ankles. Bring your palms together and look straight down at the floor, keeping your neck straight.
Slowly begin to melt your chest down towards the floor. Stop when you feel a stretch in your shoulders and breathe deeply for 10 breaths. (This can also be done seated - just push your chair back, sit on the edge with your elbows on your desk press your chest toward the floor.)


Hamstring Stretch


This final pose you might save until you're alone in your office ;) With your left foot firmly on the floor, bring your right leg up and rest it gently on your desk mid-calf. 

Take a big inhale to sit up tall, and as you exhale begin to lean gently forward toward your leg. Hold your foot, your leg or your desk and do your best to keep your spine long and straight.

Did you try them? How do you feel?

Repeat them Monday through Friday and watch your daily aches and pains start to slip away :)

Namaste my friends, and get your stretch on!


Nathania Stambouli