Desk Yoga: How to Take a 3-Minute Stretch Break

Yesterday I was a slave to my computer.  Not in a bad way.  In fact, my words and ideas were flowing as the rain poured down outside my hotel room window in downtown Los Angeles.  It felt good to start the new year feeling motivated on a Sunday to get some things done.   There was a mirror on the wall across from the desk and I made eye contact with myself.  Wow, I thought, I need to stretch.

One of my New Year’s Affirmations is to stretch every single day.  Some days I have the time and space to practice at home or a yoga studio, but on the days I don’t I often find myself seated with my silver laptop for ample periods of time.  It had been five days since the bliss of stretching and lengthening my muscles during a proper yoga class and I could really feel my shoulders, neck and back tense and rigid.  This hotel desk chair isn’t exactly ergonomic.

Desk Yoga:  How to Take a 3 Minute Break

1.  Remember that your body needs to stretch and that you will feel calmer, more grounded and peaceful after breaking away with a few minutes of your time.

2. Roll away from your desk remaining seated in your chair.  Sit with your spine erect and place your hands on your knees.

3. Close your eyes and drink in a few deep breaths of air.  Fill and empty your lungs completely.  Quiet your mind by imagining your thoughts in balloons, slowly drifting towards the back of your consciousness, fading away.

4. Feel your shoulders relax and notice your feet grounded on the floor.

5.  Reach out laterally with your arms parallel to the floor, gently pulling your shoulders away from your ears.  Feel a line of energy reaching through your fingertips.  Take a few deep breaths.

6.  Next, reach up with your arms alongside your ears, straight and perpendicular to the floor.  Look up if that feels good.  Take a couple of breaths.

7.  Interlace your fingers, turn your palms toward the ceiling and lean to your left.  Hold for a few moments.  Come back to center, then laterally stretch to the right.  Keep your head in alignment between your arms.

8.  Next, hook your left inside elbow over the back of your chair, place your right hand on your left knee and gently twist to the left.  Your neck and head should be the last to turn.  Breathe.  Continue a fluid movement and repeat on the right side.

9.  Lastly, bring your body forward to lay your chest on your knees, feet still flat on the floor.  Place your hands alongside your feet and straighten your arms.  Look down at your toes so there are no wrinkles in the back of your neck.  Breathe.

10.  Interlace your fingers behind your back, gently pull your shoulder blades together and reach toward the ceiling.   Let your neck relax and breathe.  Return to your seated position and smile.

Many of us spend long stretches (no pun intended) of time at a desk or computer, but just three minutes of desk yoga can help relieve stress, calm the mind and get blood and energy flowing more efficiently in the body.  Plus, the mental break also makes room for creativity to return.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be pain to obtain motivation to stretch.  Sometimes headaches and writer’s block are also clues the body gives to tell you to take a break.  Give it a try and please share your thoughts with a comment below.

Happy Desk Yoga-ing!