The Stress-Relieving Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk While Working

As is true for many of us, the workday typically takes place sitting at a desk in front of a screen, and while there are definitely benefits of this setup like working from home, keeping our physical, emotional, and mental health tended to while tethered to a chair does take some effort. Relieving the stress and stiffness that might build up over the course of a workday is possible, and you don't even have to leave your desk to do so.


Yoga poses typically done standing can be adapted to a seated position, like Cat-Cow and Eagle. Breathwork is, of course, another great option to reduce stress and feel a sense of calm and ease, as per Harvard Health Publishing — even when the workload is piling up. In addition to the poses you can do at your desk, taking short breaks to get up and move around is also key, and this combination can be just the refresh you're after.


If you're new to yoga, one of the few poses you're likely familiar with is Cat-Cow, also known as Chakravakasana (via Healthline). This pose is ideal for back tension, which, if you spend much time at a desk, is likely something you're dealing with. Cat-Cow also helps to improve your posture and balance. To adapt this pose to a chair position, you'll simply sit up straight and place your hands on your knees or behind your head. Next, inhale deeply, arch your back, and look up at the ceiling.


Then exhale as you round your back and pull your chin down to your chest. Slowly repeat the movement a few times while following the flow of your breath. This adapted version of Cat-Cow is, of course, not as effective as the real deal, but it'll still provide some relaxation and alignment. If meditative music helps you get in the zone, pop in your headphones and focus on this pose for a short break from the keyboard and screen.

Eagle pose

While this pose is mainly about balance, and you won't be focused on that piece while seated in a chair, the Eagle pose still provides the stretch and stress relief you're looking for. Start again by sitting up straight and taking a few intentional breaths, according to Di Hickman. Eagle pose feels a lot like you've become a human pretzel, and you'll definitely be doing a fair bit of twisting. Once you're ready, cross your right leg over your left and your right ankle behind your left calf.


As for your arms, cross your left arm over your right and bring your palms together in front of your face while keeping your arms and elbows up and away from your torso and your shoulders back and spine straight. Hold the pose for a few breaths and switch sides to repeat the pose. Even a few minutes of pause to complete this sequence while still sitting at your desk can give you a boost and reset. Be sure to add Eagle pose to your yoga journey, whether you work in the office or at home. 

Forward bend

You may want to give your coworkers a heads up before practicing this pose so that everyone knows you're, well, okay — but a nice, deep forward bend in a seated position can be quite the relief when it comes to stress and tension. Essentially, this pose is all about letting go — just be sure not to doze off while you rest. You should get a fairly deep stretch in your lower back from this move, as per Arhanta Yoga. This one is, yet again, deeply enhanced by intentional breathing. You may feel a bit disoriented when you rise, so move slowly.


"Bend forward with your belly on your thighs and let your head hang down toward the floor. Allow your lower back to soften by sending your breath there," Donna Rubin, cofounder of bodē nyc, New York City's first hot yoga studio, told StyleCaster. "Try and take breaths and feel the blood flowing into your head."

Spinal twist

You may automatically do a spinal twist throughout the workday to stretch your back when you start to feel sore but doing one intentionally as a part of your mini yoga sequence in your office chair can be even more productive. To reap the full benefits, sit sideways in your chair. That way, you can utilize the chair back for a deep spinal stretch, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Before starting, be sure you're sitting up straight and your feet are flat on the floor.


Once properly seated, bring your arms up with your knuckles inches away from your chin. Twist your torso towards the back of the chairs while eventually dropping your arms to the side. Take a deep breath while you move through the pose, and then face the other way to repeat the pose and stretch your other side. In addition to these stress-relieving poses that should hopefully put you in a more zen state of being for your workday for everyday yoga, rolling your wrists and slowly rotating your neck from side to side can also be done at your desk.