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Yoga Practices to do After Sitting At Your Desk All Day

Yoga Practices to do After Sitting At Your Desk All Day

Do you find yourself with tight hips, a stiff back and neck at the end of every day? It is not uncommon for many who find themselves at their laptop all day to end up with stiffness and pain. When you sit for hours together, your hips and knees are in constant flexion, and if you hunch forward over a screen, there is a prolonged protraction of the shoulder blades and flexion of the spine taking place. This over time can cause aches and poor posture. When this is prolonged it puts significant stress on the lower back and hips too. 

Yoga asanas teach us to be steady and comfortable in every posture. This is true for the posture we take up the most in our day as well, in this case sitting at a laptop. There are certain postures, movements and practices you can do regularly to relieve this stiffness and pain at the end of each day - in no more than 10-15 minutes. 

Yoga postures to practice after a long day at your desk

Downward facing dog or Adho Mukha svanasana

This posture will lengthen the hamstrings, calves and thighs. It stretches the back and helps develop upper body strength. Since it is an inversion, it also improves blood circulation from the legs which is very helpful after sitting all day. 

Downward facing dog or Adho Mukha svanasana

How to do downward facing dog: 

  •  Inhale, look Up, take the right leg back, and the left leg back
  •  Exhale, push the hips back towards the ceiling, trying to place the heels on the ground.
  •  Inhale, press into the palms, pushing shoulders away, exhale, push the chest towards the thighs, keep the spine straight, not rounding the back. 
  •  Keep the neck and head relaxed, and position the head between the hands.

Locust pose or Salabhasana

This posture stretches out back and creates strength and stability in the entire back. It takes a counter shape of the position your body is in a chair. Thus, it strengthens the muscles that have been worked and largely neglected all day. 

Locust pose or Salabhasana

How to do locust pose: 

  • Lie down on the stomach. Keep the forehead on the ground and arms stretched back, beside the thighs
  • Breathing in, lift up both legs, hands, chest and head off the ground. Keep the legs straight and do not twist the hip.
  • Hold and keep breathing. Make sure you look straight, keeping the neck long. 
  • Hold the asana with your core muscles, and keep the thighs engaged. 

Camel pose or Ustrasana

This backbend counters the position of sitting at a desk all day. Focusing on the breath in this posture also helps stay steady and aware at different points in the day. 

Camel pose or Ustrasana

How to do camel pose: 

  • Kneel on the mat and place your hands on the hips.
  • Your knees should be in line with the shoulders and the sole of your feet should be facing the ceiling. Keep the knees hip width apart. 
  • As you inhale, gently lengthen the spine and bring the pelvis in line with the thighs. 
  • Now slowly, arch your back and bend backwards. Now place the right hand on the right heel and as you exhale, drop your head back, circle the left hand from forward, up and back to the left heel. 
  • Gently drop your neck. Do not strain it. You can also keep it in a neutral position. 
  • Your toes can either be tucked or softened based on your flexibility. 
  • Stay here for a few deep, slow breaths.

Seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana

This forward bend lengthens a hunched back and the muscles which are normally constricted when sitting at a laptop.  

Seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana

How to do seated forward bend: 

  • Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you (Dandasana). Keep the spine straight and toes pointing upwards. 
  • Inhale, raise both arms above your head and stretch up. As you exhale, bend forward from the hip, chin moving toward the toes. Keep the spine erect. Focus on moving forwards towards the toes, rather than down towards the knees.
  • Place your hands on your legs, wherever they reach. Do not try to force yourself closer to the thighs if it is difficult. If you can, grab hold of your toes and pull on them to help you inch forward a little. You can also grab your calves if that’s where you’re comfortable. 
  • Breathe in, keep your head straight and lengthen the spine. As you exhale, gently try to take your naval closer to the knees. Engage your core and try to use your breath to go deeper into the posture. 
  • To come out of the posture, release the grip; inhale, raise both the arms up and lift the chin and chest as well. Breathe out, lower your arms and come back to Dandasana.

Legs up on the wall pose or Viparita Karani

A restorative posture, this asana improves blood circulation and releases strain on the legs and back. 

How to do legs up on the wall pose: 

  • Lie down with your buttocks close to a wall and legs falling to one side. Now slowly lift the legs up along the wall. Adjust your position to make sure you are as close to the wall as possible. Make sure you are comfortable.  
  • Now relax the throat and head. Keep the arms on the side of the body or above your head - whichever is comfortable for you. 
  • Stay here for a couple of minutes. Try to take slow, deep breaths. 
  • To come out of the posture, slowly drop the legs to one side and push yourself away from the wall.

Hands and Knees With Wrist Stretch

This movement relieves the strain on the forearms and wrists after using your laptop or phone for long hours. 

How to do this

Come onto your hands and knees. Flip your hands so that your palms face up and your fingertips point back toward your knees. Make sure that your wrists are beneath your shoulders and your hips are inline with your knees. If the pressure feels too intense on your wrists, shift your weight back a little more into your knees so that the angle at your wrists is less sharp. If you are now comfortable, you can slowly rock forward and back a few times or you can also make the cat-cow movement. Do this for 5–10 breaths. 

It’s important to keep aware of the specific parts of the body that are holding tension and stiffness like the back, hips, thighs, shoulders and neck. Take deep breaths and use the breath to be more mindful of your posture. 

Simple eye exercises to relieve strain

Apart from yoga asanas for tired muscles, simple eye exercises will greatly help you relieve strain on the eyes and even head, which is also common after looking at a screen all day. You can practice: 

  1. Palming: An effective yoga practice that helps to soothe the eyes and relieves stress around the eyes.
  2. Blinking: A great exercise to reduce strain from the eyes. It keeps the eyes refreshed and focused for longer periods of time.
  3. Trataka or Thumb Gaze: Daily practice of Trataka strengthens the optic nerve for better eyesight, reduces mental stress, and improves concentration.
  4. Massaging: Massaging around the eyes relieves tension and provides a sense of relaxation.

Watch this video to see how to do these eye exercises

Practice pranayama or breathing exercises and meditation to unwind, release stress and relax the mind and body after a long day. Oceans breathing (Ujjayi), alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) and humming bee breath (Brahmari) are a few breathing exercises that will relieve stress. Meditation will help you stay more mindful throughout the day enabling you to correct your posture, take breaks to stretch your legs and back, and stay stress free. 

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Yoga Practices to do After Sitting At Your Desk All Day
Shvasa Editorial Team

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Yoga Practices to do After Sitting At Your Desk All Day

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