Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about — now you have to worry about your desk posture?! Yes, if you have a 9-5 job that involves you sitting in front of a computer you probably have what we call desk posture. Desk posture is the way you sit at your desk, where your body forms a “C” shape. In this posture, your head is jutting forward, back hunched, chest collapsed and hip flexors tight. Because of this posture, your body grows weak where you want it to be strong, and tight where you want to be open. This then can cause other complications such as back and spine problems.

If you have desk posture, though, it’s not the end of the world. You can correct it with time, awareness, and commitment.

Here are some yoga exercises you can do daily to try and correct desk posture:

Neck Stretch. 

Sit or stand. Tilt your head so that your left ear goes toward your left shoulder. Place your left palm on the right side of your head. Stretch your right arm away from your body, like you are reaching for a water bottle just slightly behind you. Take a few deep breaths. Feel a stretch in the right side of your neck, upper back, and down your arm. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Cat/Cow. 

Scoot your chair back from your desk. Reach your arms straight out and hold on to the edge of your desk, hands placed slightly wider than shoulders. First, squeeze your shoulder blades towards your spine and lift your chin, breathing in. Then, widen your shoulder blades away from each other and tuck your chin, breathing out. Alternate between these two positions 10 times. Think about moving your mid and upper spine and shoulder blades.

The Doorway Stretch. 

Stand in a doorway where you won’t be blocking traffic, a few inches behind the threshold. Take your arms out like a goal post, so that your forearms and palms rest on the frame. Keep your feet in place and lean forward to stretch the chest muscles. Stay for 1 to 2 minutes, breathing deeply.

Seated Bicycle. 

Scoot to the edge of your chair, your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your fingertips behind your head like in a crunch. Breathe in. Breathe out as you turn your torso to the left as you lift your left knee and tap your right elbow to it. Breathe in and come back to the centre. Switch sides. Continue until you feel a burn. You can also do this standing. Note: For a less-conspicuous ab exercise, simply hover your feet a couple of inches above the ground.

Chair Squat. 

Stand with your chair a couple of feet behind you, legs at hip distance and arms at your sides. Start to bend your knees, and reach your hips back, like you are slowly sitting down. As you lower, pull your belly button in toward your spine and float your arms parallel to the floor. Your knees should stay over your ankles. Keep lowering down, but before your seat meets the chair, press down through your legs to stand back up, lowering your arms to your sides. Repeat at least 10 times. Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.

How to sit right

When working at a computer for long periods, you can help improve your sitting posture by:

  • keeping the monitor at arm’s length and no more than 2 inches above the natural line of sight
  • customizing workspaces, for example adding footrests, wrist pads, or backrests
  • using a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing
  • using an ergonomic chair, a yoga ball, or a knee chair
  • trying out different keyboard and mouse types
  • using a headset for long calls or dictating to reduce neck strain
  • positioning the keyboard and mouse close together to avoid reaching
  • getting up and moving around occasionally, especially when experiencing any muscle or joint pain

It can take weeks to months to see significant benefits from working on your posture but it is possible. Once you have improved your posture, you will need to work at maintaining it, so you may often have to remind yourself to recognize unhealthy positions and correct them.

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