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While sitting at your desk, take time to recognize a few things about the positioning of some parts of your body.
Your head is tilted downward causing strain on your neck. The shoulders are drawn in and up creating a curved spine and loose abdomen. The coccyx, sitz bones, and lower back are taking on all the pressure of the upper body. Your hip bones are in a pelvic tilt forward, and lastly, all your blood flow is going to your feet.
Now think about it. Are you comfortable? Does your body feel like it is in proper alignment? The answer here is no.
The positive thing is yoga can help you. (1)(2) Yoga strengthens the muscles of the body and increases blood supply. (3) When done properly, every muscle is at work. Eventually, with consistent practice, you will develop better muscle tone. Since muscle burns fat, yoga helps with weight loss.
As your yoga journey progresses, so will your mindfulness practice. It will become stronger on and off the mat. This will help you in making wiser food choices. There is no specific calorie burn per yoga session. That is based on the intensity of the class and your height, weight, and gender.
The following are some poses to rectify the negative effects of sitting at your desk.
1. Mountain Pose
The mountain pose is wonderful for sciatica, improves posture, and firms the abdomen and glutes.
How to do
- Stand tall with your legs together, all four corners of your feet planted into the floor.
- Engage your quads and tuck your tailbone slightly forward.
- Keep your pelvis neutral and hands facing out.
- Keeping the upper body in proper alignment, close your eyes and take 5 deep cleansing breaths.
2. Standing Forward Bend
The pose involves bending your upper body to touch the floor ahead. The forward fold exerts the push of gravity downward to open your chest and release the tightness in your shoulders.
All in all, this pose is great for relieving stress and fatigue while fostering calmness and positivity.
How to do
- Stand erect.
- Inhaling, reach all the way up to the sky with your hands.
- Exhaling, bring your palms to the floor and chest to thighs like a swan.
- Take a few breaths in this position. Feel the spine lengthening, the relief of any stress in the neck and lower back, and the stretch of the hamstrings and calves.
- Inhale and bring your arms over your head. Exhale and swan dive down again.
- Repeat this motion 5–10 times.
3. Tree Pose
The tree pose is a one-leg balancing pose that strengthens the quads and abdomen. It is also another therapeutic pose for sciatica.
How to do
- On the inhale, lift your left leg to a comfortable position on your right leg while simultaneously locking out the right leg. The goal is to eventually bring the leg up into the inner thigh.
- Bring your upper body into proper alignment.
- Take 5 breaths in this position and switch legs.
4. Cobra Pose
The cobra pose is a chest-opening pose that helps undo the ill effects of sitting at a desk constantly such as a stooped posture, back pain, and constipation. It also stimulates the adrenal gland, liver, and kidneys for better health.
The cobra pose helps work out the muscles around your spinal column to make them strong and flexible.
How to do
- Lay on your belly with your legs hip-width apart and hands placed at your ribs.
- On the inhale, extend your big toes straight back and press down with all ten toenails to activate your quads.
- Press down on your hands while lifting the chest and rolling your shoulders back.
5. Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is another great asana for desk workers as it releases the hip, stabilizes the spine, and alleviates back pain.
How to do
- Sit on a yoga mat with your legs folded under your hips and your knees on the floor at a distance of the mat’s width while keeping your big toes together.
- Bend your upper body forward such that your stomach rests between the thighs and your forehead touches the floor.
- You can extend your arms in front with your palms facing downward, or you can bring them back alongside the thighs with the palms toward the ceiling. Do whichever comes more easily to you.
6. Downward-Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is a strength-building pose that stretches and strengthens the entire body. It opens and strengthens the shoulders and upper body, stretches the hamstrings and calves, and tones the legs.
How to do
- Begin in a plank position.
- Pressing down your fingers and feet, press up into a pike. You may have to bend your knees or reposition your hands closer to your feet.
- Keep lengthening the spine, trying to bring your head closer to the ground while simultaneously trying to get your heels onto the ground.
- Stay in this position for a few minutes, continuing to move to improve your form.
7. Warrior Pose
The warrior pose is another balancing pose that strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles, and back. It opens up your hips and chest and promotes good balance.
How to do
- Begin in mountain pose and inhale.
- Exhale and step the feet about 4 feet apart. Raise your arms over your head into a prayer position.
- Position your feet with the right foot facing forward, the left foot perpendicular to the right, and the heels in alignment.
- Square off your hips to the front of the room.
- While bending your right knee, continue reaching your arms up, looking up, elongating the spine, and bringing the torso back slightly.
- Take a few breaths here and switch.
8. Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is a chest, heart, and hip opener. It stretches the neck, back, and spine.
How to do
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Place your hands by your side and bring your feet to your fingertips.
- Raise your hips up to the sky and bring your chin to your chest, resting the back of your neck on the ground.
- Hold this position for 5 breaths.
- Lower your hips to the ground and go up again.
- Repeat this process 5 times.
9. Triangle Pose
The triangle pose is a multifaceted asana that can easily be done by anyone who is new to yoga. It works out every part of the body, from your shoulders, chest, and abdomen to your hips and legs.
This pose flexes your leg muscles, opens up your rear and shoulder muscles, and works out your abdomen to increase your core strength, improve your digestion, and relieve menopausal symptoms.
How to do
- Stand in the mountain pose with your feet as wide as your hips.
- Widen your feet further such that they fall below your wrists.
- Place your right foot at 90° to the side of the body while turning your left foot inward such that your toes are at a 45° angle. Ground your feet firmly into the ground and distribute your body weight equally on both feet.
- Inhale and stretch out your arms horizontally at the same level as your shoulders such that they are parallel to the ground with your palms facing down.
- Exhale and relax your shoulder blades.
- Draw in a deep breath again, and then as you release it, bend your torso to the right from the hips while keeping your waist straight. Make sure to keep your right ear, shoulder, and knee in the same plane while bending. In other words, you must bend your body sideways rather than forward or backward.
- While doing so, raise your left hand in the air while dropping your right hand to touch the shin, ankle, or toes of your right foot. Try to extend both the arms in a straight line such that your right shoulder falls directly below the left one.
- Anchor this position by digging your heels into the ground and pushing your left hip slightly back to lengthen your tailbone and pelvis. You can choose to keep your head in a neutral position or gently turn it to look up at the outstretched left arm.
- Hold this position for at least 5 long breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Note: There are many other poses greatly beneficial for a desk worker. A few others are the pigeon, lizard, camel, and fixed firm poses. These are all hip openers, with lengthening of the spine and strengthening of the legs. When seated for long periods, you should remember to frequently roll your neck and shoulders and change your leg position to a figure 4, alternating legs.
Yoga is a wonderful practice that aids in digestion. Many of the poses activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga asanas help to stimulate the internal organs.
Spine twists are one of the most beneficial ways to stimulate the digestive system. When you twist, the blood flow to these organs is cut off. Upon the release, new fresh blood rushes in. This process releases all the toxins and creates better blood flow.
Yoga can be practiced any time of the day. It does not matter if you are doing a vigorous or gentle flow since all yoga ends with savasana. This final pose calms the body and mind. It is a conscious rest that allows you to fully escape your body and mind, becoming one with your breath.
Sometimes, it helps to play a mantra to help keep your mind from wandering. Yoga is beneficial to all, and it is very restorative for a desk worker. It is important to counteract all the negative effects of sitting all day with some of these simple poses.
Sitting all day can be detrimental to all aspects of your life. Just adding yoga to your lifestyle a few times a week can be life changing to your mind, body, and soul.