We’ve heard it time and again: “sitting is the new smoking,” so if you find yourself spending the majority of your day (and especially your workday) sitting at a desk, it’s time to make a change.
Investing in a standing desk can be step one, but taking the time to properly stretch your body can do wonders for your posture and back. We chatted with the experts at NextDesk for this easy-to-do yoga sequence you can perform right at your standing desk. Now let’s get to work!
Why it’s great: This chair yoga move stretches your back and neck while massaging your kidneys, adrenal glands and other stomach organs. It also helps your breathing and body become in sync.
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How to do it: Before you get up, do this stretch to get your back ready. Plant your feet flat on the floor, and when you inhale push your shoulders down and arch your back. When you breathe out, move your shoulders and head forward while rounding your spine or scooping your stomach. Go back and forth between these two positions while you breathe.
Why it’s great: It stretches the whole body, rejuvenates you, aligns the spine, and creates space between your vertebrae. This stretch helps your posture and gets you back ready for more stretching or twisting.
How to do it: With your feet firmly planted and your arms at your side, take a deep breath and sweep your arms up to the ceiling. When your hands are parallel and over your head your palms should either be touching or as close together as your shoulders will allow. Focus on reaching, stretching your elbows and shoulders. Once your arms are stretched bend your upper back slightly. Hold it for a few breaths and be careful not to over extend.
Standing desk pigeon
Why it’s great: This standing desk pose is wonderful to open and balance your hips.
How to do it: Stand up in front of your standing desk and position the tabletop to be just below your hips. Once both feet are firmly planted on the floor and your back is straight, carefully pull your left leg up in front of you. Holding the ankle, rotate your leg so your knee points out and your calf is parallel to the edge of the desk. Rest the left leg across the top of the standing desk and place your hands on either side of your leg. Flex your foot and slowly tilt forward at the hips and breath out as you stretch. After 5 to 10 breaths, return your left foot to the ground and do the same steps with your right leg. Do not raise the standing desk while your leg is placed on top of the standing desk.
Flat back pose
Why it’s great: It helps to align your spine and stretch your hamstrings for better leg strength.
How to do it: First, step back from the standing desk so you don’t bump your head during the next two positions. Then, bring your arms down from Upward Salute as you slowly “fall forward” or swan dive with the top half of your body (bending at the waist). Place your hands on your legs and draw your shoulders back so you spine is flat. Raise your head and hold this pose.
Why it’s great: It is a deeper stretch of the Flat Back which stretches the hamstrings.
How to do it: Stand up straight bringing your arms up by your sides and swan dive, folding at the pelvis until your hands touch the floor. Do not fold from the back as this will curve the spine. If you can, press your palms flat to the ground and make sure the knees aren’t locked. Take a deep breath and let your head hang. This move is excellent when paired with the flat back. Switching between the flat back (inhale) and forward fold (exhale) poses results in a helpful stretch.
Half moon pose
Why it’s great: It strengthens your core muscles, which helps support your back. The pose can also make your ankles and knees stronger.
How to do it: Stand up straight with your feet together and your hands clasped together over your head. stretch your whole body up to the tips of your index fingers. Tilt your torso to the left, and then return to center. Repeat the movement and stretch to the right. After you return to center, your body should feel loose, stretched and with a bump in energy to keep typing in the standing position.
With a standing desk, you should be getting up and sitting down several times a day. By throwing in these yoga moves, your body will get a well deserved stretch and possibly a second wind.
Why it’s great: It stretches the wrists and shoulders.
How to do it: Sit facing your standing desk with a straight back. With your right foot flat on the ground, lift your left leg and cross it over the top. Put both arms in front of you keeping them at shoulder height. Cross your right arm over your left arm and bring both forearms up so your palms are touching. Keep your shoulders pushed down while lifting the elbows up to get the best stretch. After a few breaths, release the arms and legs and repeat with the opposite sides.
Why it’s great: Removes tension in the abdomen, helps with digestion, and may aid an achy back.
How to do it: Sit in your chair with your feet flat and facing forward. Carefully twist from your abdomen toward the right with your left hand on your leg and your right hand on your armrest. Breathe in and out. Then return to center and repeat with the other side. Be sure not to twist too far.
Standing desk shoulder stretch
Why it’s great: It stretches out your shoulders that may have been hunched from sitting and typing.
How to do it: Place your hands (about shoulder length a part) on your standing desk, this is when it is still at your seated height. Step back from your standing desk, and bend at the waist until your body is a 90 degree angle. Drop your head to really stretch the shoulders.
Why it’s great: It strengths the tights for stronger leg muscles.
How to do it: From a standing pose, bend your knees and lower your rear like you are about to sit in a chair. Keep your feet and knees together for stability while raising your arms. If you need to, you can place your hands on the standing desk surface to help with your balance. Hold this pose for several breaths.
Standing thigh stretch
Why it’s great: It stretches the muscles that are inactive from sitting (in the legs and the front of the hips). This can also help if you have lower-back tension.
How to do it: Stand in front of your standing desk with your feet flat. If necessary, raise the standing desk so you can place one hand on the surface without having to bend your back. This way you can have support if you need it. When ready, guide your right heel back by holding it and pull your abdomen in. Keep the left leg stable on the floor and take deep breaths. Then switch legs.