5 Yoga Poses for Your 8-to-5

by Monique Minahan

Did you know that for every 49 minutes of static posture (e.g. sitting at a desk) it takes 20 to 30 minutes of activity to undo the patterning in your fascia? The surprising (and slightly alarming) thing is that a static position held for 50 minutes or more takes 3 to 4 hours of activity in order to undo fascial patterning! [1]

I don’t know about you, but I’m regularly sitting at work for stretches longer than 50 minutes. On a good day I can catch a lunchtime yoga class, but I’m not always so lucky. Depending on my schedule, an hour and a half yoga class can be a luxury.

After learning the scientific findings mentioned above in a workshop with Gina Schatz, I started looking for ways to incorporate a few minutes of yoga throughout my day instead of waiting for an opportunity to get to class. I’m always amazed at the difference a mere 5 to 10 minutes of daily yoga makes!

Here are 5 of my favorite Workplace Yoga Poses:

1. Seated Cat/Cow

seated cat poseseated cow pose






A variation on traditional cat and cow pose, this version can be done in a chair.

  • Ground both feet evenly to start and make sure you are sitting on your sitz bones.
  • On an inhale sit up tall and lengthen your spine.
  • Clasp your hands behind your head and on the inhale ease your sacrum forward into a gentle arch, letting the rest of your spine follow in turn like a row of dominos.
  • On the exhale round your spine evenly, feeling the shoulder blades gently separate.
  • Repeat for 4 or 5 full breaths.

2. Seated Twist 

seated twist iYoga PremiumA variation on parivrtta sukhasana, this is another one you can do from your desk. I use this one regularly as I’m often confined to my chair for over an hour, without an option to stand up.

  • Sit up tall.
  • Keeping your hips level, twist gently to one side on the exhale, twisting from the inside out.
  • Keep your core engaged as you twist by lifting your lower belly up and in towards your spine.
  • Inhale back to center and on the exhale twist to the other side.

3. Wall Dog 

wall dog iYoga PremiumOften used as a prep for down dog and a great way to warm up tight hamstrings, wall dog is a nice alternative to full down dog (which might look a little funny to your coworkers).

  • Stand facing the wall and place your hands on the wall in front of your hips.
  • Bend at the knees and walk back until your spine is extended.
  • Keep your hands and arms engaged, just like real down-dog.
  • Press back through your hips and down through your legs.
  • All your down-dog alignment holds true, you’re just at a wall.

4. Shoulder Clock

Wall Clock demo photoThis is a great one to counter the rounding in the upper back we experience from sitting at a computer all day.

  • Stand next to a wall with your feet hip width apart.
  • Extend one arm up the wall towards 12 o’clock.
  • Take a few breaths here and then stretch your arm back to 1 o’clock.
  • Take a few breath cycles at each stage until you get to 3 o’clock. Lean your chest forward slightly and breath deeply here.
  • Repeat on the other side.

5. Flank Pose

flank pose iYoga PremiumI like to use my office chair for a gentle parsvottanasana.

  • Keeping the feet in two separate lanes with the front foot facing forward and the back foot out at a slight angle.
  • Keeping the hips even, lengthen your spine and come forward, placing your hands on your chair.
  • Keep the spine long and both legs rooted and active as you breathe deeply.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Remember to draw your low belly in and up towards your spine to support your inner organs and back.

(A variation of this is parivrtta trikonasana. This is one of my favorites because I get a hamstring stretch, a calming forward fold, a focused balancing pose, and a detoxing twist all in one! If this pose is not a part of your regular practice ask your yoga teacher for assistance in class before trying it on your own.)

Do you have a favorite office-friendly pose?  Share it in the comments below!


[1] International Fascia Conference, Harvard University, 2007   
[2] Anatomical images from iYoga Premium application for iPad and iPhone


Mo MinahanMo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. 

Read more from Monique on her blog, mindfulmo.com


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4 Responses to 5 Yoga Poses for Your 8-to-5

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