Stretching Exercises At Your Desk
Feeling tight neck muscles? Worried about developing a flat butt? Want to reduce stress and anxiety at work? Try stretching exercises at your desk.
Perhaps you answer Amy Cuddy’s urging to use body language to shape who you are and you stand in a power pose like the one at the top of this post before going into a stiff meeting where you need to feel and exude confidence. But what about your body’s callings? Do you ignore your physical self when your mental self sends signals of stress?
Featured on this and that 99u article, following are several terrific stretching exercises and yoga poses you can do from your desk.
“Tuck your legs underneath you and sit on your heels with your knees wide apart so that your belly has room to release. Reach your arms out in front of you, let your forehead press into the floor and rest your arms next to your ears. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Bring your awareness to the spot between and slightly above your eyebrows, also known as your Third Eye center, and keep focusing your attention here.”
“This is a yogic breathing exercise. Raise your arms above your head, inhale to a comfortable level and begin pumping out short, sharp breaths through your nostrils. Remain focused on your exhalation, as the inhalation will happen naturally, and don’t be afraid to make noise, allowing your diaphragm to pump in and out and your arms to wave back and forth as you breath. Count up to 100 breaths. If you start to become lightheaded at any point simply slow down the breath or stop completely and breathe normally. When you’re nearing your final exhale, slow your breath and take a moment to center yourself before returning to work.”
“Try a gentle twist. Open your arms out in a T shape then let your knees drop to the left as you turn your head towards the right. Stay here for five full cycles of breath, then switch sides by dropping your knees to the right and gazing to the left. This pose helps release any tension that may have crept up in your low back and shoulders, and helps quiet the mind.”
All Fours Flipped Palms
“Come to your hands and knees. Then, flip one wrist at a time, palms face down, with fingers pointing towards your knees. Start by making small circles over your wrists, shifting weight forwards and backwards. If this feels painful, keep working here and try adding a little more pressure each day. When you’re ready to move on, you can extend one leg back at a time, so that you’re in a plank pose (top of a push-up) with your wrists flipped. This will stretch out your wrist joints, while bringing new blood to the area, giving you more flexibility and range overtime, and helping to fight off arthritis.”
Forward Fold Shoulder Stretch
“Stand with feet hips width distance apart (if you’re not sure how wide this is, you can measure by placing two fists between your feet). Bend your knees as you fold forward, with the crown of your head dropping towards the ground. Clasp your palms behind your back and let them fall overhead. This is an intense shoulder stretch that will open up the front side of your body, counteracting any residual rounding from poor posture.”
“Start by exhaling all the air out of your lungs. Inhale fully through your nose (you should see your belly expand when you inhale), then slowly and evenly exhale, sending air from your belly through your chest, throat and finally nose, while lips are lightly sealed. Repeat as many times as you like. This controlled form of breathing (also known as Ujjayi breath) improves concentration while slowing down the nervous system, which negates any anxiety or stress we’re holding in the body.”
What stretches do you do?
Photography by Warrior II, illustrations by Oscar Ramos Orozco, and pose descriptions by Jenn Tardif.