There are so many benefits to practicing yoga. It facilitates mindfulness, by bringing you into the moment. It can increase your mobility, sharpen your mind, help you in sleeping better, and give you a sense of relaxation that not only lets you release stress, but can help you become more productive!
Feeling too busy to make it to a yoga class?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to go to a yoga studio and practice for an hour and a half daily to reap some of those benefits. Of course, a regular practice may help you see changes more quickly and in larger quantities, but when you can’t make it to class, you can practice anywhere.
Here are 4 Asanas (yoga poses) that you can do while sitting at your desk*:
Garudasana (Eagle Pose) modified:
Sit in your chair with a nice, straight back. Tighten your core to support your back and reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling. Take a nice deep inhale through your nose while simultaneously extending your arms to the sides, like the letter “T.” On your next exhale, bring the arms together, cross at the elbows, and intertwine your forearms, bringing your palms together. Continue to breathe, feeling the stretch in your shoulders and back. Experiment with this pose and move your elbows away from you, up, or down and see what feels good to you. Hold for 4 breaths and do the other side (other arm on top).
Tip: If your palms do not touch, try using a yoga strap. Hold the strap in both hands and pull gently.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose):
This pose does require getting out of your chair, but it’s worth it and doesn’t require a lot of movement, so you shouldn’t get too many raised eyebrows from your co-workers. Start by standing so your big toes are touching and your heels are parallel. Ground through the 4 corners of your feet (the two back points of your heel, the pad behind your big toe, and the pad behind your little toe). Your toes should be free to wiggle. Take a moment to distribute your weight equally between both feet. Draw in your lower belly, keep your spine straight, draw your shoulder blades down your back. Create some length in the spine and reach the crown of the head toward the ceiling, chin parallel to the floor. Let your arms stay at your sides. Breathe and hold until you feel calm and centered.
Place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent, and sit tall in your chair, creating length in the spine. Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh or knee. Begin to twist to the left, keeping your chin in line with your chest, starting with your ribcage, followed by your chest and shoulders, and finally followed by the head. Keep your back straight and keep breathing. Every time you inhale, make sure your back is straight and every time you exhale try and pull yourself a little deeper into the twist. Hold for 4 breaths and repeat for the other side.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose) modified:
Sit closer to the edge of your chair, place your feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent, and sit tall, creating length in the spine. Leaving your right foot on the floor, place your left ankle on your right thigh, right above the knee. Allow your left knee fall out to the side. Flex the left ankle and foot to keep them stable and safe. Keeping your spine straight, slowly begin to bring your torso towards your knees, bending forward. You can reach your arms out and hold on to the desk in front of you or you can place your hands on your thighs, on the chair, or whatever feels good for you. Hold for 4 or more breaths and repeat for the other side.
Bonus: Have a little more room to move around? Try a few rounds of Sun Salutations, to get your blood flowing.
I still highly recommend that everyone practice yoga regularly. Start by committing yourself to taking 1 in-studio class a week and practicing at home at least 2 times a week. Then, as your grow in your practice, take more classes and move forward to making yoga a daily part of your life. Of course, not everyone can afford to take studio classes on a daily basis, so your home practice is extremely important. Click here for some tips to starting an at-home practice.
*Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice. When practicing these poses, only do what feels comfortable for you. Listen to your body and stop immediately if anything hurts or doesn’t feel right. Pay special attention to areas of previous injury, your knees, and other sensitive joints. Not every pose is for every body.
**Not to fear, I’m a RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher).