The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Nine to five desk jobs can be a real pain in the neck – literally. 

The solution? Chair yoga!

Even in the best ergonomic chairs, sitting for prolonged periods of time puts huge strains all overyour back, shoulders, hips, eyes, wrists, spine and neck to mention a few.

This can cause considerable discomfort and pain, which in some cases can develop into more serious conditions.

But fear not! Chair yoga to the rescue…

In this article we are going to delve into the 9 best chair yoga poses that you can do at your desk.

But firstly…

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

What is chair yoga?

Chair yoga is a broad term for yoga postures adapted so they can be practised while sitting in a chair (it’s all in the name, really!). 

This means they’re not only great for relieving the tensions associated with sitting at a desk all day, but these modifications make yoga more accessible to differently-abled individuals with limited mobility. 

With a little movement, your desk can become a little less treacherous – which is why we’ve created a list of the 9 best yoga positions that you can do from your office chair.

#1: Seated Crescent Moon 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits: 

Sitting all day places huge pressure on your lumbosacral spinal discs.

This can lead to shortening of the spine, slipped discs, herniated discs, chronic pain and bad posture – sounds pretty scary, right? 

Enter Crescent Moon Pose.

This chair yoga posture helps to open the sides of the body and allows a deep stretch that lengthens your spine. Helping to relieve pressure on your lumbosacral discs, release tension in your hips, open your lungs and improve focus. 

How to: 

  • Beginning with your arms relaxed at your side, take a deep breath in and slowly raise your arms out and up to the sky. 
  • As your hands meet above your head, place them in prayer position and breathe out for 5 counts. 
  • Inhaling gently lean to your left side and stay for 3 deep breaths.
  • As you inhale, return to centre, then repeat to your other side
  • Repeat this exercise 2-3 times, trying to stretch slightly deeper each time. 

#2: Wrist Stretch

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits:

Sitting for 8+ hours a day at a desk usually also means 8+ hours of typing, writing, drawing or performing other wrist intensive activities. 

Prolonged use of a keyboard, mouse or touchscreen can cause not only stiff and achy wrists, but also leads to repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome and arthritis.

This simple but highly effective chair yoga stretch really helps to prevent these conditions from developing, doing wonders to release the tension in your wrists, hands and fingers. 

How to: 

  • Sitting at your desk, stretch both arms out in front of you so they are relaxed and parallel to the floor. 
  • Keeping your arm straight up to your wrist, allow your right hand to relax completely, so that it droops down and your fingertips face the floor. 
  • Place your left thumb in the palm of your right hand, while the rest of your left fingers gently wrap around the back of your right hand. 
  • Pressing your thumb forward and your other fingers back, feel the stretch in your right forearm arm and wrist. Stay for 3-4 breaths.
  • Repeat on other side.
  • As we near the end, slowly rolling both wrists in circle motions 4 or 5 times
  • Finish by lowering your hands down to rest at your side and with loose, relaxed hands gently shaking your wrists to release any final bits of tension.

#3: Seated Side Twist 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits:

Slouching over your desk all day not only strains your spine but can also lead to a build-up of tension in your abdomen.

This can cause stomach tightness, digestion problems and weaker core muscles.

Amongst other things, side twists are perfect for stretching your abdomen and awakening your core, making them a happy antidote to the mentioned perils of slouching. 

How to:

  • Begin by sitting sideways on your chair, so that your left side is facing the backrest and your feet are flat on the floor, heels under your knees.
  • From here, twist your spine so that your chest turns towards the back of the chair and grasp each side of the backrest with the corresponding hands. 
  • Hold this pose for 3-4 breaths. On each inhale, lengthen your spine and roll your shoulders back. 
  • As you exhale, use your hands on the chair to gently twist your body further, deepening the stretch. 
  • Repeat on the other side.

#4: Seated Pigeon 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits:

Spending your 9-5 sitting at a desk can also wreak havoc on your hip bones and flexor muscles. 

Prolonged periods of sitting cause your hip flexor muscles to relax and deactivate.

Over time this leads to weaker, shorter muscle tissue causing tightness of the hips, restricted range of motion and a painful imbalance named adaptive shortening.

The chair yoga seated pigeon pose helps to prevent these conditions by opening and lengthening the hips and chest, relieving tension and activating sedentary muscle fibres. 

How to: 

  • Begin seated facing forward, your back straight and heels underneath your knees. 
  • Place your left ankle in the middle of on you right thigh, without moving your right leg, resting your hands however comfortable on your knees or thighs.
  • You may feel your left hip rising slightly here, shifting the weight more onto your right. Be sure to avoid this by maintain an even distribution on both your sit bones.
  • Hold this posture for 5-8 deep breaths, keeping your spine long and occasionally flexing your left foot to release any tension in your knee.
  • To deepen the stretch, exhale as you lean forward. Here, your elbows are resting on the inside of your left ankle and knee, hands in prayer position and gaze gently on the ground.
  • Repeat on other side.

#5: Chair Pose 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits: 

Next up on the list of sitting’s victims is your thighs.

Sitting for long periods hampers circulation and causes blood to pool in the legs, putting pressure on your blood carrying vessels which can lead to spider varicose veins, spider veins and even blood clots. 

Chair yoga’s chair pose is amazing for activating and engaging the hamstrings, glutes and calves – proving that a little movement can go a long way to prevent these conditions from occurring.

How to: 

  • Beginning seated on your chair, feet flat on the floor with heels under your knees. Your arms extended straight in front of you, parallel to the ground. 
  • Pressing your feet firmly into the ground, eyes gazing ahead, engage your calves and glute muscles to begin slowly rising up to a standing position.
  • As you do so, push your sit bones towards your backrest while stretching your fingertips forward. Here your torso should be tilted forward, and your knees above but not in front of your toes. 
  • When you reach halfway to standing, sit deeper to intensify the stretch and pause for 3 deep breaths. 
  • With the same control, again using only your leg muscles, slowly lower yourself back into your chair. 
  • Repeat this 4 to 5 times.  

#6: Seated Forward Bend 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits: 

Sitting staring at a screen all day also takes a toll on your neck.

The average human head weighs around 11 pounds (5kg) (almost as much as a large bowling ball!) which held at certain angles for long periods exerts huge stress on your neck muscles and the top of your spine.

With a deep stretch in your lower back and by allowing your head to hang loosely, the chair yoga seated forward bend tends to your neck and lumbar spine by alleviating the tensions in these areas.  

How to: 

  • Sit facing forward, two arms lengths away from your desk. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart with heels under your knees. 
  • As you inhale, bring your arms from your side up to the sky, rolling shoulders down and back so they are away from the ears.
  • Gaze up to your palms. 
  • Keeping your spine straight and arms long, slowly exhale as you bend forward from your waist over your legs. 
  • Allow your hands to rest on the floor and head to hang loose and heavy between your knees.
  • As you inhale, slowly raise your arms back towards the sky. Again keeping your spine long and shoulders down.
  • Repeat this cycle 4 to 5 times, staying conscious of your breath and positioning. 

#7: Seated Cat-Cow 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits: 

As mentioned in #1, the spine suffers immensely from a full day of sitting down. As the literal backbone to our body, its important we give this part extra attention.

The chair yoga Cat-Cow pose not only provides a deep stretch to your mid-back and shoulders, but the repetitive motion of this chair yoga posture also stimulates blood flow between your spinal vertebrae allowing for greater oxygen and nutrient supply as well as the removal of toxins. 

How to:

  • Begin seated with shoulders straight and spine long. Both feet should be flat on the floor, core engaged and hands on your knees.
  • With a deep in breath, arch your spine backwards, eyes to the ceiling, bringing your shoulder blades together as you roll your shoulders back and down. This is Cow Pose – stay here for 2-3 breaths. 
  • As you breathe out, slowly round your spine without bending at your hips. Here, your shoulders roll in towards your heart, your chin falls to your chest and your gaze fall on your navel. This is cat position – stay here for another 2-3 breaths. 
  • Repeat these Cat and Cow positions 4 to 5 times.

#8: Chair Eagle 

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits:

As well as our wrists, our triceps and shoulders also fall prey to the strains of sedentary desk work.

As we type away, muscles all the way up our arms work hard to carry out restrictive and repetitive short movements. This can again lead to repetitive strain injuries, tightness and pain.

Chair yoga eagle pose incoming! This pose acts as a great preventative to these conditions, encouraging the lengthening and activating of the triceps and shoulders. Phew!

How to:

  • Sitting facing forward, gently cross your left thigh over your right, wrapping your left foot around the back of the right calf. 
  • Then, cross your right arm over your left just above the elbow. Wrap your forearms around each other to bring your palms together.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down away from the ears, while lifting your elbows so they are shoulder height. 
  • Hold this position for five to ten breaths, then repeat on the other side.

#9: Eye Yoga

The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk 

Benefits: 

Chair yoga can stretch beyond what we tend to consider yoga as.

Remember when your mum would tell you that staring at a screen all day would give you square eyes? Well, she had a point. 

Our eyes aren’t evolved to stare at screens.

Screen glare, the close viewing distances and limited viewing angles place a huge strain on our eye muscles, leading to numerous problems including eye exhaustion, migraines, astigmatism and long-term near-sightedness.

But with a little conscientious eye activity, the risks of developing eye conditions can be greatly reduced.

 Eye Yoga releases tensions and strains on your eye muscles, helping to protect and strengthen the condition of your eyes and sight

Yogic eye exercises involve alternating your focus between objects nearby and far away. It encourages moving your eye in all directions side to side, up and down. 

And it can be done chair yoga style!

How to:

  • Begin with eyes closed and relaxed, breathing gently.
  • Open your eyes, blink for a few seconds then very slowly roll your eyes round clockwise. Continue for 2-3 breaths then repeat anticlockwise. 
  • Following this, reposition your chair so you have a clear view of a building or object far in the distance – if you are close to a window this is the time to use it! 
  • Focus on this object for 10 seconds or until it comes into focus, breathing deeply as you do so. 
  • Then change your focus to an object within an arm’s length, again focusing for 10 seconds, breathing gently. 
  • Repeat 4 or 5 times, alternating your focus between the nearby and distant object.

Feeling inspired to further de-stress post-work?

Now that you’re well versed in the art of chair yoga, all that’s left for the optimal stress and strain workday is a post-work yoga routine.

Check out this article: 7 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief – Instant And Effective

Or, would you prefer a follow-along chair yoga video?

Check this out:

Tish Qvortrup

Tish Qvortrup

Tish Qvortrup is a Brighton-born Yogi, with a passion for living intentionally. A Yoga Alliance registered 300hr teacher, she found her calling in Yin and Yang yoga. In her spare time, she loves exploring the outdoors and cooking plant-based goodies.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.