Yoga Poses From Your Desk

I’m sure we can all agree that sitting at a desk for long periods of time is draining, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, there are a variety of yoga exercises you can do while at work. Sitting behind a desk is straining and it there are a lot of health benefits to taking a break and stretching your body. Taking a few minutes to stretch out your body will help calm your mind and relieve stress, as well as keep your neck, shoulders, back, and arms in good working condition!

Here are some poses you can try:

Chair Cat-Cow Stretch

Sit up straight with feet flat on the floor. Inhale and arch back, looking up, push the belly forward and shoulders backwards. This is the cow position. On the exhale, round the spine, push the shoulders forward and look downwards. This is the cat position. Do this inhale/exhale for five breaths.

Benefits of Cat-Cow: 

  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Creates emotional balance
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind

High Altar Pose

Sitting up straight, inhale and lift arms above the head. Clasp hands and invert palms upwards. Lean to the left and hold for five to eight breaths. Repeat on the right side.

Seated Double Hamstring


Sitting close to the edge of the chair, place both heels on the floor with toes pointed upwards. Keeping back straight, stretch forward on the inhale and exhale on the release. Repeat for five breaths, extending arms out over the knees for a deeper stretch.

Seated Spinal Twist

Sitting sideways on a chair facing right, twist the torso while holding onto the back of the chair. Lengthen the spine on each inhalation and twist on each exhalation for five breaths. Repeat on the left side.

Seated Knee Squeeze

Sit facing forward and lengthen the back. Place right foot over left knee. Let the right knee drop down. Inhale and lean forward to stretch. Exhale into resting position. Repeat for five breaths and repeat with the left foot.

Scale Pose

Sit at the edge of your chair, press your hands down on either side of your hips and raise your legs and butt up off the seat. Engage your deep abdominal muscles and keep the tops of your shoulders down; hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Lower and repeat 2 more times.

Cow Face Arms

Bring your left arm behind your back and right arm behind your head. Clasp fingers if you can. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths; switch sides.

Desk Chaturanga

Your desk can support your yoga pushups! Blasting out a few of these strengthening movements throughout the day reminds the muscles around your neck to relax, while energizing the arms, which tend to go soft during the majority of the day. Get up out of your chair for this!

Rest your hands about shoulder width distance on the edge of your sturdy desk, and step your feet back so your torso is a diagonal line to the floor. Your feet firmly placed, inhale as you bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle, hugging the elbows in towards the ribs. Exhale and press your chest back up to the starting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Desk Plank Pose

Use your desk to support this spine-lengthening and hamstring-stretching final pose.

Place your hands shoulder width distance or wider at the desk edge. Step your feet back until your feet are directly under your hips as you create a pleasant feeling traction for your spine. Hold 5 to 10 breaths and let this pose help you undo all the negative effects of sitting.

Of course, we encourage you to seek out more yoga poses as well so you can have variety throughout your day!

Other Resources

Love taking mini yoga breaks throughout your day and want to do even more? There are some great resources available on campus!

Counseling Services offers Mindful Mondays, a workshop in which students learn how to better manage anxiety, regulate emotional reactivity, and become better in tuned to their own internal thought processes, at 4:15PM on Mondays. There’s no appointment necessary, just show up at counseling services, located in the Health Center.

There are also Yoga classes offered at the Cal Poly Rec Center, including: Vinyasa Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and so much more. You can find the times for these classes on the ASI Rec Center Group Fitness tab. Some classes do require a reservation, and this can be done through the ASI Rec center website as well. Don’t have a yoga mat? Don’t let that stop you! There are mats available in the studios.

Unavailable to fit those classes into your busy schedule? No worries! There are some great Yoga apps available on your phone! There are several apps that allow you to use their basic functions for free. Each app offers something different so try out multiple and have fun!

Free Apps you should try!

  • Daily Yoga
  • Global Yoga Academy
  • Down Dog
  • iYoga+
  • Simply Yoga

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