At your desk from 9-5?

Fern Ross offers you some relief from desk-based life.


Office life: it’s more dangerous than you think. As you frantically hammer away at your keyboard, trying your best to meeting looming deadlines, you’re putting your health at risk from all kinds of ailments.

Repetitive stress injury (RSI), carpal tunnel syndrome, hunched shoulders, sore necks, lower back pain… the list is endless. What’s more, a recent study by Loughborough University found that those who sit at a desk for six hours or more each day are putting themselves at greater risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

While packing in the day job is not a realistic alternative for most of us, yoga and its myriad benefits are. From seated twists and "cat/cows" to release tension in the spine, to simple breath techniques to regain control over stressful situations, here are 3 simple exercises you can do at your desk throughout the day.


1: Basic Breath Awareness

Whenever you feel like your workload is getting too much for you, this gentle diaphragmatic breath will quiet and calm the nervous system. Sitting tall, bring one palm to your belly, close your eyes, and notice the quality of your breath: is it tense, shallow, uneven? Gradually begin to lengthen each exhale and make your breathing as relaxed as possible, and bring your awareness back to your belly, noticing it expand as you inhale, and contract as you exhale. Continue for up to 12 breaths.



2: Reverse Prayer

Sit on the edge of your chair and bring your arms into prayer position behind you (if this isn’t possible, simply hold onto opposite elbows). Sit tall, and draw the shoulders down and away from the ears. As you do so, draw the elbows further away from you to increase the opening in the chest. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then release the wrists and give them a good shake. Repeat regularly throughout the day.



3: Eagle Arms

A brilliant seated shoulder opener, extend both arms out in front of you, cross the right arm under the left and bring the forearms to touch. If possible, clasp the hands. Draw the elbows away from you and up, and at the same time draw the shoulders down and away from the ears. This movement is incredibly subtle but a great way to release tightness in the upper back. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and then repeat on the left side.


Learn more about the simple yoga poses you can do at your desk, and how to take yoga off the mat and bring this incredible practice into your daily life by joining Fern on Saturday 25 February for her Yoga For 9-5’ers Workshop.