For people in certain careers, a desk is something you literally can't escape. While working at a call center, trading on a computer, or managing a welcome desk, you can't do your job unless you are planted at you desk.
This was true for me when I worked as a work-life counselor at a benefits company call center. Leaving it for even a moment meant I might miss a call and wouldn't be able to do my job. You can read more about this experience here.
Last year, I revisited this company to teach a seated yoga workshop in one of their conference rooms. Knowing the stresses that these people go through on a daily basis helped me develop the De-Stress at Your Desk yoga system, a series of poses that uses your chair, desk, and walls as useful props. Below are instruction in three of the simplest stress busting poses. You can do these moves and still do your job!
Half Dog -- You may have done downward dog in a yoga class. This version of the post is a lot less physically straining and a lot more relaxing. Place your hands on top of a table or desk (or push them against a wall if you are in a desk-less office). Your body should be in a reverse "L" shape, allowing you to get a big stretch on your upper back. Focus on relaxing the space between your neck and your shoulders. Breathe.
Seated Chair Twist -- Maybe you've done this one on your own naturally. Sit in the chair, keep your glutes firmly on the seat, grab the right armrest with the left hand, and twist to your right. If it's possible (and not too awkward or uncomfortable), grab the back of the chair with your right hand. Repeat on the other side.
Standing Forward Fold -- Sometimes a rush of blood to the head is just what we need to get the day going! This one is quite easy: Stand up, and fold forward, tilting from the hips. Let your head, arms, and entire upper body just hang like a rag doll. Let your head be heavy like a bowling ball. You can even grab opposite elbows and sway side to side to intensify the stretch. Go even deeper by grabbing the backs of your calves, face reaching towards your shins. Roll up to standing slowly, leaving your neck and shoulders heavy until the very last moment. Then, relax your arms beside you, bring the shoulders down and back behind you, straighten your neck, and feel your perfect posture.
Enjoy these stress-busting poses that you can do at your desk!
Art by James Kelley
Lauren Coles is the founder of Daisy Office Yoga, and teaches corporate workshops and office yoga classes in New York City.