So you’ve recently become a home worker. Congratulations on finally ditching your commute and entering a new period of your life where it’s OK to wear sweatpants to the office. But for all the positives – like setting your alarm later in the morning – there are some downsides too. Most notably, the backache that can come from sitting at a makeshift desk set-up for eight hours a day.
Hunching over a laptop, using the sofa as desk chair, precariously balancing your screen on a pile of coffee table books… all of these actions can put pressure on your neck and spine, and there’s increasing evidence to suggest that sitting for long periods of time is bad for our overall health too.
Yoga poses for neck and shoulder tension
So what can be done? Well, we can start by trying to undo the damage with some anti-desk yoga; moves that can release shoulder tension and improve posture. Here, yoga instructor Meghan Shannen (@megshan.yoga) shares four key poses to try on your next lunch break.
1. Forward fold with clasped hands
“This move helps to open your chest and shoulders, which counteracts the standard sitting posture we tend to hold at our desks.
“Start with your feet hips-width apart and clasp your hands behind you. Pull your hands away from your lower back and focus on keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
“With bent knees, fold down, bringing your clasped hands overhead. Take five breaths, and then roll up slowly – imagining you’re stacking your spine, piece by piece.”
2. Low lunge
“Lunges are great for stretching and strengthening your hip muscles, which can help to alleviate lower back pain.
“To do this move, you’ll need to place your front leg at a 90-degree angle with your back knee on the mat and back toes untucked. I recommend using a yoga mat to protect your knees.
“Engage your glutes and actively push your the shin of your back leg against the mat. Your abs and rib muscles should also be activated to protect your back.
“Once you’ve found a solid foundation, lift your hands above your head, tucking your chin slightly to work the deep neck muscles. Take five deep breaths before switching legs.”
3. Triangle pose
“This shoulder and chest opening pose is great for to stretching out your side body.
“Step your feet roughly three feet apart from one another. Make sure your left foot is at the front of the mat and facing forward. Line the arch of the right foot to the heel of the front foot, and raise your arms to shoulder height.
“From here, reach your left arm as far forward as you can, whilst pulling your right hip as far back as possible. Then drop your left hand to a comfortable position on the inside of the left leg, pushing against your shin. This should give you a nice spinal twist and chest opener. Don’t forget to switch sides afterwards.”
4. Reverse tabletop
“This pose opens your shoulders and strengthens your glutes, wrists and back muscles.
“Start in a seated position, placing your hands behind your back, with your fingers facing towards you. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
“Lift to a tabletop position, making sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your wrists. You should feel like you’re pushing out of your shoulders, which strengthens the muscles.
“Your hips should be directly above your ankles and in line with your shoulders. Engage your abdominal muscles as you hold for five. Your neck can either be tucked or neutral, but only if you don’t have neck issues.”
Video: 6 more yoga poses to relieve tension
Yoga instructor and personal trainer Lettie King reveals six more yoga poses that are great for relieving stress and tension in the body.