3 Easy yoga poses you can do at your desk

Oct 17, 2014 at 8:52 a.m. ET

Most of us spend an average of 7.7 hours a day sitting at a desk. With advancements in technology there is little activity left for us to do outside of typing, side swiping and picking up telephones.

While this is great for efficiency and the marketplace, it wreaks havoc on our bodies and health. Studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time increases your chances for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression and is the number one culprit for back pain. This is the world we live in today; we can't all quit our desk jobs in pursuit of health and happiness, but we can begin to add movement to our otherwise sedentary ways.

When we sit all of our organs, veins, muscles, bones and tendons get compressed, slowing down all the systems of our bodies and decreasing range of motion in our joints. Hence its contribution to the aforementioned diseases. The practice of yoga is perfect for counterbalancing these adverse effects. Yoga exercises, linked with breath, increase our space internally by calming the mind, lengthening and strengthening the muscles and increasing circulation. There are many variations of poses you can do right at your desk; there is no need for a yoga mat or clothes, therefore there is no excuse for not doing it.

Start with a simple meditation

  • Sit tall in your chair, feet directly underneath your knees, hip width apart
  • Rest your hands gently on top of your thighs
  • Close your eyes and breathe. Feel your bones firmly rooting down into your chair. Feel your spine lengthening upward out of your pelvis. Feel the fullness of your breath and the internal space it creates. As you exhale, allow unnecessary tension to exit your body and allow your body and mind to be soft and receptive.

Pose 1: Hip opener

  • Cross right ankle over left thigh (just above the knee).
  • Place left palm to the sole of right foot, and right palm on right inner thigh.
  • With right foot flexed, push down on your right thigh and then hinge at hips to fold over your legs.
  • Hold for eight to 10 breaths, repeat on the left side.

Pose 2: Seated spinal twist

  • Stretch your arms up and overhead.
  • Exhale and twist to the right, placing right hand on the seat behind you, and the back of your left forearm to your outer right thigh.
  • Inhale again to re-lengthen your spine, exhale to twist deeper.
  • Hold for five breaths; untwist and repeat on left side.

Pose 3: Neck stretch

  • Place your right hand to your left shoulder; palm should rest on your chest while fingers press the shoulder back.
  • Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder.
  • Reach out left arm strongly, extending through fingertips and drawing left shoulder blade onto your back.
  • Lift and lower your chin.
  • Hold for eight to 10 breaths, Repeat on the other side.

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Kumi is a New York based yoga teacher, massage therapist, and holistic health coach with over ten years of teaching experience. She is the owner of Kumara Wellness and a founding member of Yoga For Bad People. Kumi completed her first teacher training in 2003 with Desiree Rumbaugh in the method of Anusara. She has studied extensively with some of the best in her field.