Legs, Hips, Shoulders, Neck
These stretches are easy movements to do at your desk to relax the neck, shoulders, and hips during the work day. Feel free to do them in order or individually based on your needs.
Cactus Arms with External Rotation
Sit up on the edge of your chair with a long spine. Bring the arms out to either side like goalposts with a 90-degree bend at the elbows. Shine the chest forward. Slowly, reach the fists backwards without moving the elbows. This is finding an external rotation of the arms which counteracts the normal internal rotation of slumping forward in a chair.
Tricep and Serratus Stretch
From Cactus Arms, allow one hand to fall behind the back. Grab onto the elbow of the bottom arm with the opposite hand. Gently guide the hand down the back as you press the head backwards into the arms. Pull the shoulder blades back softly as you lengthen through the crown of the head. This will stretch the scapular stabilizers which can help with your seated posture.
Bring the arms in front of the body and wrap one arm under the other. Then cross the hands one more time, so that the palms touch. From here, lift the elbows to shoulder height (or above) as you reach them away from the body (scapular protraction).
Eagle Arms (Garudasana Arms)
Eagle Arms Variation (Garudasana Arms Variation)
If comfortable, press the hand of the lower arm into the opposite palm until both hands move slightly towards the side. This will stretch the internal rotators in the shoulder. Be sure to move very slowly and stretch gently since this is a very high-stress position for the shoulder complex.
Neck and Shoulder Opening #1
Reach the hands behind the lower back and clasp them together. Then, bring the clasped fist to one side of the body near the obliques. Slowly lean the head towards the same side of the body on which the hands are resting. Relax the shoulders down the back as you use the weight of the head to lean into the stretch.
Neck and Shoulder Opening #2
Release the clasp of the hands and reach one arm directly out to the side. Turn the head to look in the opposite direction, then reach the nose forward towards the shoulder. The head should remain upright. The stretch here will come into the shoulder and neck of the outreached arm as the face pulls away in the opposite direction.
Cat Pose Variation (Marjariasana)
Bring the hands to the knees or thighs. As you inhale, pull the shoulder blades together on the back and shine the chest forward. Allow the gaze to go upwards as you arch backwards through the mid-back. Move through this and the next pose together, matching one breath to each movement.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
From Cat Pose, reverse your motion and begin to arch forwards through the upper back. Bring the shoulder blades forward so that they wrap around the side body. The chin may come down towards the chest as the gaze follows. Reach up and back through the spine.
Figure 4 Legs (Ardha Utkatasana Variation)
From seated, cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Actively externally rotate the crossed leg by reaching the knee down towards the floor. Maintain a straight and tall spine. Allow the resistance created by your grounded leg to push you deeper into the stretch. Feel free to use your arms to guide and position the legs.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Lastly, stand by your chair and lift one leg so that the heel comes towards the glutes. Hold the lifted foot with your hand as you engage the core to push the hips forwards into a straight line with the body. Bring the knee of the bent leg in line with the knee of the grounded leg. When sitting for long periods of time the hip flexors often become short and tight. This simple stretch will help to counteract this effect.