3 Sneaky Tips for Doing Yoga at Your Desk

Feel better at work with these sneaky tips for doing yoga at your desk!

by Alex McGee

Alex McGee

Easy, brief and regular stretch breaks can make a difference in your mood and mental focus. Here’s how it works: your spine is the central channel for your nervous system. If you keep that channel long and flexible, everything flows better. Ancient yoga and modern medicine both tell us that a healthy spine means more health for your whole body. Your ribs attach to your spine, and your ribs are the basket that houses your lungs. For deep breathing, your ribs need space. Elongating your spine helps you breathe deeply. Often, during the workday, our arms close in on our ribs and limit our breathing. This deprives your brain of refreshing oxygen. So, here are three tricks for doing yoga at your desk to keep alert and relaxed:

  1. Reach. Try placing items that you need throughout the day a little bit beyond your reach, so that you stretch to get them. For example, if you have a file you look at once an hour, try to place that file basket at the level of your head and an arms length away. Or put your cup at different places around your desk so that your spine has to move to get that drink.

  2. Twist. Here is a simple yoga pose at your desk: Sit at the front of your chair. Rotate your chest to the right. Use your arms to hold the edge and the back of the chair so you can turn your torso further. Stay for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.


    Chad Peters is on the acac Membership team and demonstrates a spinal twist at his desk.

  3. Breathe. Balancing your inhale and exhale can give you calm mental energy so that you are ready to accomplish a project. Try this right now as you read: Breathe in for 1-2-3-4-5-6 seconds. Now, breathe out for 1-2-3-4-5-6 seconds. Try that five more times, putting one finger on the desk for each breath. When all five fingers are on the desk, you’ve completed a breathing exercise. See how you feel.

If you want more ideas about how to do yoga in a chair, try one of the new Chair Yoga classes at acac. Starting September 1, class meets Tuesdays at 5:30pm and Saturdays at 10:30am in our Short Pump club. Although this class is designed with older adults in mind, people of all ages will find lots of benefit and challenge. If you can make time to come to just one class, you will get ideas that can benefit you for a long time. Perhaps your supervisor will let you come to class and count it as continuing education for workplace productivity!

Alex McGee wrote this article because she loves helping people find yoga. She teaches yoga classes for all levels at acac, including Chair Yoga and Intro to Hatha Yoga.