We’re super excited to have yoga instructor Helen Cloots with us today to talk about restorative yoga poses for desk dwellers! Helen is a yoga instructor with Wild Thing Yoga in Bend, Oregon and founded Floating Yoga School, which is my personal go-to for free guided yoga practices. Helen’s going to give us all the know-how about what poses to do at the end of (and during!) your workday to keep your body feeling absolutely amazing.
If you’re new to yoga, you’ll want a to grab some yoga supplies to get started. Here are our faves:
Now we’re going to hand it off to Helen to show us how to restore and rejuvenate the body!
If you feel like you spend most of your day sitting, you’re not alone. With the rise of remote working, many of us are seemingly glued to our chairs. Add in meal times, Netflix binges, and family Zooms, and it’s no wonder our bodies ache! Our bodies are designed to move, but our lifestyles don’t always allow for as much movement as we’d like.
Luckily there are ways to counteract all that time on your bum. If you can, get up once an hour to take a quick walk, use the restroom, or drink water. And when you feel like adding in a little stretch, use one (or more!) of the below restorative yoga poses to target those pesky sore tight/tense areas that are so common in desk dwellers. Pair them with a couple of minutes of deep breathing and share them with friends and colleagues for happier, healthier vibes all around!
Restorative Yoga Poses for Desk Dwellers
Seated Cow Cat Variation
Targets: spine and posture
No, I’m not talking about goat yoga! For the seated cow cat yoga pose variation, sit up tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Interlace your hands in front of you and flip your palms out so your thumbs point down.
As you inhale, reach your hands over your head and take a slight backbend, lifting through your chest. If it feels okay on your neck, look up. Engage your core to support your low back.
As you exhale, bring your hands to chest height and press them forward as you round your upper back. Puff up the space between your shoulder blades. Tuck your chin to your chest.
Repeat as many times as you like with your breath for a flowing stretch, or hold each shape for several breaths.
Seated Side Bend
Targets: side body and low back
This yoga pose gets an amazing stretch through your side body. From a seated position, bring one hand under the seat of your chair. Reach the other arm up to the sky, then over your body for a side stretch. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Hold and breathe. If you like, add some gentle head movement to get into your neck. Do both sides.
Targets: back and neck
For this yoga pose, sit up tall and place one hand on the back of your chair. Place your other hand across your body on your outer thigh and begin to rotate, keeping your spine as upright as possible. Either keep your chin above the center of your chest, or turn it in the direction you’re twisting. Imagine lengthening up as you inhale, and twisting deeper as you exhale. Hold for a few breaths then repeat on the other side.
Targets: outer hips, glutes, low back
Stand behind your chair and place your hands on your chair for support. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, with your knee pointing to the side. Gently send your bottom back and down until you feel sensation. Hold and breathe, then repeat with your other leg.
You can also do this yoga pose seated in your chair or holding on to a wall or desk.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Targets: hip flexors and quads
Stand in front of your chair. (Do this with a stable chair, not one on wheels.) Place one foot on the seat of the chair and bend your knee so it’s above your ankle. The other foot will stay on the ground a few steps away from the chair’s seat. Bring your hands to the back of the chair and begin to lean your hips gently forward. Keep a slight scoop under of your tailbone and engage your core to support your low back. Stay for several breaths then repeat on the second side.
Wall Chest Opener
Targets: chest, shoulders, posture
Stand with your side to a wall and bring your hand to shoulder-height on the wall, fingers facing back and arm fully extended. Slowly walk your body open, turning away from the wall until you feel a stretch. Hold there for a few rounds of breath then repeat on the other side.
Targets: chest, shoulders, spine
Stand facing a wall and bring your hands to shoulder-height with your fingers pointing up. Slowly walk your feet back as much as you’d like, and drop your head between your arms and your chest toward the ground. Send your bottom back and hold for several breaths.
You can also do this yoga pose on a desk or chair.
There you have it — a whole set of restorative yoga poses to practice at home whenever you feel sitting start to take a toll on your body! You definitely want to make these poses part of your daily routine. Helen also has a Desk Dwellers flow that you should definitely do if you have a bit more time! That video is below, and you can view her whole library of practices for free on Youtube.
We hope these restorative yoga poses put some movement in your day! Do you practice yoga regularly, or have any other poses you like to do? Let us know in the comments!
About Helen Cloots
Helen started practicing yoga 15 years ago to balance out the craziness of life as a grad student in NYC. After working in the wellness field for many years, she eventually transitioned to teaching yoga full time. In 2016 she created Floating Yoga School, her virtual yoga studio (or as she prefers to call it, her “floating” studio, because you can practice anywhere but it’s still very real!) when she moved onto her sailboat full-time. She teaches group classes in person and via YouTube, hosts yoga teacher trainings, retreats, and online courses, and creates custom programs for corporate and personal clients. Her yoga practice and teaching has evolved greatly over the years. Some days she’s lucky to get in a few sun salutes and deep breaths between chasing around her toddler, running a business, and keeping up with adventures. But if nothing else, yoga is about going with the ebbs and flows of life and she wouldn’t have it any other way!
You can find Helen on Instagram, her website, and YouTube.
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