People have made yoga into this big involved thing where you sign up at a studio, enroll in a class, put on special yoga clothes, drive to the location, roll out your mat, and a teacher guides you through an hour-long sequence of poses.
Would you do more yoga if it weren't that complicated?
The truth is, yoga can be done almost anywhere with no equipment. It's always there for you, no matter what you're doing. You can do yoga in between meetings at work, you can practice yoga breathing while you're in line at the post office, and you can do a quick wake-up or wind-down sequence at your bedside.
Here are 7 yoga poses you can do right at your desk.
- Half-moon pose. This side body stretch can invigorate you when you're in a slump. Standing with your feet together, bring your palms together over your head, elbows straight or with a slight bend. Bend to the right so that your body forms a moon shape, and feel the stretch in your side body. Come back to center, and repeat on the other side.
- Seated spinal twist. This twist is great for when you're feeling a little tense. It helps to relieve stress and stretch out your back and shoulders. To do this pose, sit up tall in your chair with your feet flat. Place your left hand on your right knee and use it to pull your upper torso to the right, reaching further with your right hand. Come back to center and repeat on the other side, using your right hand on your left knee to turn your torso to the left this time.
- Seated figure 4. From a seated position, place your left foot on the ground in front of you, and bring your right ankle to rest on top of your left knee. Lean forward slightly and reach your hands toward your left ankle, or reach all the way to touch the floor if you can. Switch feet and repeat on the other side.
- Tabletop thread-the-needle. You might want to clear a space on your desk for this one! From a seated position, place your hands on your desktop about two feet apart from each other. Flip your right palm toward the ceiling and slide it under the "loop' of your left arm, leaning forward to reach your right hand further to the left. Feel the stretch in your right shoulder and upper back. Slowly slide your right hand back to its original position, and repeat on the left side. Tabletop thread-the-needle is a great one for that mid-afternoon upper back tension.
- Seated cow face pose. From a seated position, bring your right arm behind your back and point your fingers up toward the ceiling. Now, reach your left arm up toward the ceiling and bend at the elbow, reaching your fingertips down and toward your other hand. If you can reach, clasp your fingers together. If you can't touch your fingers together, enjoy the stretch while you reach. Repeat on the other side.
- Assisted dancer pose. Stand behind your office chair. Grasp the back of your chair with your left hand. Grab the top of your right foot with your right hand, and kick your foot back and up, holding your foot firmly with your hand. Slowly lower your foot and repeat on the other side.
- Wide-leg forward fold. Step your feet out wide, and keep your feet parallel. Leading with your shoulders, reach forward and drop your hands to the floor. You can stay here or walk your hands to the left, and then to the right. When you're ready, slowly rise back to standing.
No matter how small your workspace is, you can try out these yoga poses to get your blood flowing and give yourself an energy boost, any time of day. Start slow, build a habit, and see how you feel after a week or so. You might be surprised at what a difference a few yoga poses can make!