Updated: Mar 27
If you’re working at a desk—in the office or at home—it’s handy to have a simple yoga practice that you can do at work as a break from sitting.
The following guided practice of yoga and mindfulness at the office includes a mixture of chair yoga, standing yoga, and mindfulness meditation. Perfect for when you’ve got a short break from work and little time to change into yoga clothes.
Chair Yoga at Work Desk
Chair yoga poses are a great way to move and stretch at your work desk. They can help address tension that might have built up, particularly in the neck, shoulders and back, while sitting for long periods of time.
Not only are chair yoga postures more accessible than many sitting or lying yoga poses, they’re also easy and quick to fit in behind your work desk during a busy day.
Try out the following chair yoga positions that are focused on the neck and shoulders.
Making some gentle circles with your neck is a great way to get movement in your neck and release tension.
You can start with making slow, half circles with your neck and pause in specific spots where you feel more tightness.
See if you can keep your breath slow and steady throughout.
Eagle Arms Pose
The Eagle Arms Pose focuses on both your neck and shoulders. You can start by reaching your arms wide to the side and crossing one elbow on top of the other.
Depending on the space you have in your shoulders you can bring the back of your hands towards each other or wrap around the palms of your hands.
Ease the elbows up on the inhale and then drop them slightly down on the exhale. After a few times moving the elbows gently up and down you could pause a few breaths. And then repeat on the other side.
Cow Face Arms Pose
The Cow Face Arms Pose focuses more on the front of you shoulders.
As you bend one arm you can place your hand either at the back of your head or slide it down towards the middle of your shoulder blades. The opposite hand can rest on the elbow of the bent arm.
Keep allowing your neck to lengthen and elbow of the bent arm to draw back. Stay for at least five breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Yoga Poses at Work
If you’ve got access to a meeting room at work or are working from home it can feel energizing to do some standing yoga poses. Since desk work is very sedentary it can feel great to move dynamically through these standing poses using one breath per movement.
That way you can use this standing yoga practice as a moment to be more active and get your blood flowing. Try the following yoga poses as a short break at work.
Half Sun Salutation
A few rounds of the half sun salutation can gently stretch your body and get you feeling more alert from the movement. See if you can keep your breath long and deep throughout.
Inhale, as you reach your arms up and overhead. Exhale, as you fold over your legs and slightly bend your knees. Inhale, as you open your chest halfway up, lengthening your legs and upper body. Exhale, as you fold again over the legs. Inhale, come back up to standing, reaching the arms up and overhead. And exhale as you reach the arms back down again.
You can do this a few rounds trying to keep each breath the same length and intensity.
Forward Fold to Chest Opener
Stand with your feet wide and spine long. Use your exhale to bring your hands to your hips and fold forward over your legs. And then inhale as you come all the way back up, reach the arms out to the side and lift up through your chest.
Move back and forth several times in both positions. Choosing perhaps during the last round to hold both positions for around five breaths.
Mindfulness in the Workplace
Mindfulness meditation is probably the most simple technique to practice in the workplace.
Since you’re sitting in stillness you won’t bring attention to yourself at the office and don’t require any additional space to your office chair and desk.
Typically we close the eyes in mindfulness meditation to help bring our focus towards our body and breath. But if that makes you feel uncomfortable at work you can instead find a soft gaze looking downwards.
Take anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes to turn your attention towards sensations in your body and breath. Observing how things feel in the present moment.
Remember that it’s normal for your mind to wander away from watching your body and breath. And so each time you notice this gently bring your focus back again.
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