• Yoga has a huge range of physical and mental benefits
  • You can do simple yoga poses at your desk & not look weird
  • Start small and work your way up to longer stretches
You’ve heard of yoga and maybe, even went to a few yoga classes. But, you’re no expert yoga master. Hell, you’re not even an intermediate level yoga practitioner.

It’s still very much a once-in-awhile thing or maybe you only had a short run one time as part of a free trial.

In those rare times that you do manage to get your ass into a class, you feel like a total newbie each time. Your moves are on a 5-second delay as you peek over to the other Lululemon-clad yogis to make sure your pose matches to follow along.

It’s partly intimidating and partly frustrating to try to keep up with a class of yoga know-it-alls.

The whole idea and concept of yoga and how it’s great for your body (flexibility) and mind (meditation) is appealing to you.

You’d like to go more often but because of a variety of things, you just can’t make it work.

Maybe, it’s because you feel like too much of a newb, can’t quite justify the pricey monthly cost, don’t have the time during the day or week, have other obligations and commitments.

It’s hard to make it work, especially when life’s busy and money’s tight.

The ideal solution would be that your company offers instructor-led yoga classes during lunch in a dedicated yoga space on-site.

However, unless you work at a very progressive company with kick-ass work perks like Amazon, Google or Facebook, you fall into the same category as us - working at a company that doesn’t have an on-site gym, much less a yoga studio.

But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get some of the benefits of yoga.

Believe it or not, you can actually do yoga right at your desk with a few simple moves and poses that won’t make you look too weird.

The extra bonus - you won’t get all sweaty!

What’s Yoga All About Anyway?

Yoga isn’t just about being able to touch your toes. It’s a path of life and its aspects involve everything from physical flexibility to the pursuit of enlightenment.

However, the aspect of yoga that has become most well-known in the modern world is what’s called asana or the physical practice of yoga.

This physical practice of yoga features many different body postures, some much easier than others, all said to benefit the body in multiple ways.

There’s also the mental side of things in the form of meditation.

It’s truly a mind and body thing.

Despite yoga originating from ancient India, you’d be hard-pressed to walk around virtually any major city and not find a yoga studio these days.

Yoga has truly become a health phenomenon in most of the Western world.

It’s become a fashionable thing. People wear yoga pants even when they’re not doing yoga.

It’s also pervasive in our social lives. There are internet memes featuring the popular yoga word “Namaste” all the time. Our favorite: “Nama-stay in bed all day.” 😉

And new types of yoga are popping up all the time - from Goat Yoga to Ganja Yoga (yes, you read that right - Bob Marley would be proud).

Why We Should All Be Doing Yoga

Yoga is great for your mind and body, and especially good for relieving a lot of the challenges we face as a result of our busy working lives.

This isn’t just based on anecdotes. There’s a ton of research on the positive effects of physical yoga, and more is being done.

Yoga For Physical Health

Whether you choose a fast-paced vinyasa flow class or one of those yoga classes where all you do is basically lie down, yoga stretches our body and helps us move muscles and joints in a different way than many other exercises or, you know, no exercise.

1. Lowers Blood Pressure

For people who struggle with high blood pressure, yoga is an excellent idea.

Not only does yoga help to lower blood pressure - a study from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine also found it to produce results faster than lifestyle changes usually recommended by doctors.

With high blood pressure affecting 70 million adults in the United States and more than a billion people worldwide, this is a significant finding, and a compelling reason to start doing some yoga.

2. Improves Heart Health

As well as helping to lower blood pressure, yoga can also have a positive effect on several other risk factors for heart disease.

This study from Harvard University found that yoga caused a significant improvement in participants’ blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol.

Considering heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the US, this alone should be reason enough to give yoga a try!

3. Decrease Lower Back Pain

Sitting at a computer for hours on end each working day is bound to have an impact on our posture. And the vast majority of lower back pain cases are a result of bad posture.

Yoga can help to undo some of this damage. It has been shown to reduce pain among those who suffer from lower back pain.

This study from the Annals of Internal Medicine even found that yoga was as effective as physiotherapy in reducing lower back pain.

4. Decreases Chronic Pain

As well as back pain, yoga has been shown to have a positive effect on other types of chronic pain too, including arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

This is partly due to the effects of yoga on the brain and our nervous system. The practice helps to keep us calm and less responsive to pain.

However, there is also a physical component. Yoga’s ability to reduce inflammation in the body, often a symptom or cause of chronic body pains.

5. Improves Flexibility

Have you ever stood up after a few hours sitting at your desk and felt totally stiff?

You can almost hear your bones creaking and wonder if old age has already got the better of you.

Practicing yoga can help to increase your flexibility, counteracting this stiffness. And as an added bonus, it helps with your balance too, as found in this study from North-Eastern Illinois University.

Yoga For Mental Health

So, what if you’re in pretty good shape and don’t need much help with your physical fitness?

We’ll bet you still get stressed out at work and have sleepless nights at least a few times a week - don’t we all?

Yoga benefits our mental health as well as our physical bodies.

1. Reduces Stress & Anxiety

While research is still being done into exactly how yoga reduces stress & anxiety, scientists agree that it definitely does the job.

The workplace is one of the leading causes of stress in our lives, which is why this study from Lund University chose to focus specifically on stressed out workers as their subjects.

They found that the workers who practiced yoga showed significant decreases in stress and other psychological health measures, and significant increases in well-being as compared to a group of workers who did not practice yoga.

2. Helps Manage Depression

Yoga can be used as a treatment for more serious mental health challenges too.

Multiple studies have found that yoga is effective in the treatment of depression, with one study finding that even as a standalone treatment - i.e. not combined with antidepressants or therapy - yoga significantly reduced depression symptoms in patients.

3. Improves Sleep

How many sleepless nights have you had because of issues at work?

Whether it’s a looming appraisal, an argument with a colleague or a general feeling of unhappiness at work, it’s not uncommon for our daytime woes to keep us up at night.

Yoga has been shown to improve the quality of sleep in healthy individuals but perhaps, more significantly, it has also been proven as an effective treatment for those struggling with insomnia, as shown by this study from Harvard Medical School.

So, whether work is causing your blood pressure to boil or giving you sleepless nights, yoga is just what the doctor ordered.

Office Yoga Without The Yoga Bunnies

So hopefully, we’ve convinced you that yoga can undo a lot of the negative stuff that comes with work stress and general office life.

But we totally understand if we haven’t quite got you to the point where you’re ready to don a head-to-toe Lululemon outfit and bound into the latest hot yoga studio.

Lucky for you, we’ve put together several yoga poses you can easily do without instruction, without a yoga mat, and without anyone giving you weird looks!

What better way to get your mini yoga workout done than to do it at your desk?

These seven yoga postures are our starter pack for bringing the magic of yoga into your life. 

Seated Crescent Moon

Step 1: Raise your arms above your head and touch your palms together.

Step 2: Take a deep breath in and stretch upwards to lengthen your spine, but keep your shoulders relaxed.

Step 3: As you exhale, slowly tilt your upper body to the right side. Keep your palms together and keep your torso facing forward. You should feel a nice stretch in your left side.

Step 4: Inhale and come back to the center.

Step 5: Exhale as you now tilt over to the left side.

Step 6: Inhale and bring yourself back to center. You can do a couple more on each side, then relax your arms down.

Seated Chair Twist

Step 1: Rest your hands on your knees, inhale and lengthen your spine.

Step 2: As you exhale, place both your hands on the armrest to your right and look over your right shoulder. Pull on the armrest to help you twist your chest further to the right side. Take a few deep breaths here.

Step 3: On an exhale breath, come back to your starting position. Take a deep inhale.

Step 4: Exhale and twist to the other side, pulling on the left armrest and looking over your left shoulder. Take a few deep breaths here.

Step 5: On an exhale, come back to your starting position.

Seated Chair Pigeon

Step 1: Pick up your right foot and rest your ankle on your left thigh, as if you’re crossing your legs the way a finance bro would sit.

Step 2: Slowly bend over your crossed leg. Take a few deep breaths here, then sit back up and release your leg back down.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 & 2 with the other leg.

Standing Desk Chaturanga

Step 1: Stand up and take a couple of steps backward away from your desk.

Step 2: Lean forward until you can place your hands on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width distance apart. Your body should be at a diagonal with your weight in your hands. Take a deep inhale.

Step 3: As you exhale, bend your elbows so that your body starts to lean closer towards the desk. Your heels will naturally rise and you’ll find yourself on your tiptoes. Stop at the point where your arms form a 90-degree angle.

Step 4: Either push yourself back to your starting position, or go straight into the posture described below.

Standing Upward Facing Dog

This routine builds upon the standing desk chaturanga with an additional stretch.

Step 1: Stand up and take a couple of steps backward away from your desk.

Step 2: Lean forwards until you can place your hands on the edge of the desk, shoulder-width distance apart. Your body should be at a diagonal with your weight in your hands. Take a deep inhale.

Step 3: Keeping your arms straight, exhale and drop your hips towards the desk while simultaneously turning your head and your chest upwards.

Step 4: Slowly bring yourself back to your starting position.

Reverse Prayer Pose

Step 1: This can be done either seated or standing. Bring both arms behind you, and try to place your palms together in a prayer posture behind your back. If this is too difficult, simply hold on to your opposite wrists.

Step 2: Take a deep inhale and, as you exhale, squeeze your elbows closer towards each other. Take a few deep breaths here and then release.

Seated Forward Bend

Step 1: Lean forward so that you can bring your arms behind you and clasp your hands together. Take a deep inhale and turn your head and chest slightly upward.

Step 2: As you exhale, fold your upper body over your legs, and let your arms come up and over. Take a few breaths here and then reverse out of the pose.

Follow Along & Give It An Honest Try

Practicing these desk yoga poses will not only give you the benefits of yoga in general, but will also help to give you a much-needed break during the day.

If you can get away with following a yoga video without having your screen seen, this 6-minute sequence is super easy to follow.

You don’t even need to wear headphones - just follow her poses.

VIDEO: Yoga At Your Desk
YOUTUBE: Yoga With Adrienne
LENGTH: 6:23
This video is one of our fav short sequences. We use it as a short stress relief break in between marathon typing sessions and Powerpoint builds.

There are tons more available on YouTube - just search for office yoga or desk yoga and find one that works for you.

If you can’t get away with watching a video while working, then you can at least do some incognito meditation at your desk instead - nobody will ever know. 😉

Don’t Let Fear Stop You - Give It A Try!

Leading a healthy life all the time is actually kinda hard.

And making changes to your lifestyle and habits is even harder!

We worry about what people will think, whether we’ll suck at something, if it will even work. We come up with a multitude of reasons as to why we just shouldn’t bother.

But all these reasons are actually the same reason. Fear.

Fear is often all that stands between us and living our best lives.

Unfortunately though, fear isn’t going away any time soon, so our best advice is to feel the fear and do it anyway!

Focus on what you’ll gain instead of all the ‘what-ifs’ and take the plunge.

Who cares if you look a bit odd “stretching” so much at your desk.

If this desk yoga thing still hasn’t convinced you, then try these low sweat easy workouts that you can do at work instead.

Any form of fitness you do is a good thing. And the easiest way to get started is to start small, start today and start from where you are.

Today, it’s a 5-minute desk yoga session. Next year, it’s a full-on Bali retreat!

Feel Better,

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