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Office Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Relief

Updated on October 24, 2015

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Stress and anxiety often occur at a workplace. An overwhelming workload, a nitpicking boss, some uncooperative coworkers and unexpected office blunders could all make you feel as though you were going literally insane. Your heart beats faster; your breathing becomes more shallow; and your muscles all tense up. So how can we condition our body to handle this horrendous experience and resume our calmness? According to modern neuroscience, physical exercise and meditation are powerful medicines that can help us cope well with stress and overcome anxiety. Any kind of physical exercise can work off the accumulated stress hormone in your body. Any type of meditation will have a positive impact on your brain and increase your sense of well-being. For me, I choose yoga as my means to a healthy and stress-free life.

Yoga is a combination of both physical exercise and meditation. It trains you to be mindful of your breathing and state of mind through movements. And the best thing is yoga practice does not end after we roll up our mat. Many yoga practitioners continue to experience calm and mental clarity in their daily activities, outside of yoga class. Moreover, they tend to be able to use yoga breathing techniques to regain their focus and composure in stressful situations. Now some of you might say, "Too bad I don't have time to attend a yoga class." Not a problem! This office yoga routine can be done right at your desk. It will take only about 10 - 15 minutes of your time. Plus, you don't have to be extremely flexible or athletic to do this. These are all simple poses for beginners.

3 Things to Remember

Before you adopt this office yoga routine as your daily exercise, there are three things I'd like you to keep in mind.

  1. Certain poses, such as seated cobra and spine twist, might not be appropriate for you if you have had a back injury or disk problems. Make sure you consult your doctor first.
  2. Don't wear tight-fitted clothes. You don't have to put on gym clothing, but should wear something that allows your body to move comfortably.
  3. Practice on a stable chair. If you can't find a chair without casters, put the back of the chair against a wall or cabinet to prevent it from sliding.

Chair Yoga # 1 - Seated Mountain Pose

A lot of people have a slumped sitting posture, which can result in back pain, shallow breathing and compressed internal organs. This yoga pose helps align the spine and relieve the tension in the lower back.

  • Sit on a chair, with your knees and feet about hip-width apart. Rest your palms on your thighs.
  • Roll your pelvis forward slightly, without jutting your chest or chin forward. Your spine should be lenghthened instead of slouching. Your shoulders should feel open rather than rounded.
  • Relax your jaws and close your eyes. Do the alternate-nostril breathing and relaxation breathing exercises while staying in this pose.

Yoga Breathing Exercises

Alternate-Nostril Breathing

Most people are not aware of this, but we all breathe more through one nostril than the other. Predominate right-nostril breathing energizes the body and puts the nervous system into the fight-or-flight state. Predominate left-nostril breathing, on the other hand, induces calmness and relaxation. This yoga breathing exercise can restore a balance in your nervous system and improve your brain function. Whenever you feel stressed or anxious at work, take a rest and let this breathing exercise bring your serenity back.

  • Gently press your right thumb on your right nostril and deeply inhale through your left nostril.
  • Release the thumb and lightly press your right ring finger on your left nostril. Make a long and slow exhalation through your right nostril.
  • Inhale through your right nostril. Release the ring finger and press the thumb on your right nostril again, then exhale through your left nostril.
  • Repeat the cycle 6 - 10 times.

Relaxation Breathing

  • Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Make your exhalation very long and slow. Pretend you are blowing out a candle. Repeat this a few times.
  • Now inhale and exhale through your nose again, making each breath long and complete. Focus more on the exhalation. If your exhalation is lengthened, the next inhalation will automatically be longer and deeper as well. Shunryu Suzuki, a zen master, once said that our inhalation is connected to our instinct of controling and holding on to our problems, whereas the exhalation allows us to let go and become more receptive to life. Every time we make a prolonged exhalation, we also encourage our body to unwind.
  • Observe each breath without creating any positive or negative thoughts. If your "monkey mind" wanders, just acknowledge that and bring it back to your breath without criticizing yourself or feeling discouraged. Simply witness your breathing and state of mind. Continue to breathe this way for the rest of this yoga routine.

Chair Yoga # 2 - Neck Stretch

When we experience so much stress and anxiety, the neck and shoulders are the first areas that usually tense up. This yoga pose will allow you to relieve that tension as well as improve your posture.

  • Remain in the seated mountain pose. Take a deep inhalation, then as you exhale, slowly lower your chin toward your chest.
  • Roll your head to the right as you inhale.
  • Roll your head to the back and look up on the next exhalation.
  • Then roll your head to the left as you inhale.
  • Repeat the cycle twice. Then do it in the opposite direction 3 more times.
  • Once you are back at the center, extend your left hand slightly to the left. Pretend that the tips of your left fingers are pressing on another invisible chair next to you.
  • Lean your head to the right. Gently put your right hand over the left side of your head to deepen the stretch. Stay here for 3 - 4 long breaths, then switch to the other side.

Chair Yoga # 3 - Seated Twist

The manipura chakra is located in the navel area. In yoga philosophy, this chakra is connected to your self-image. When too much energy is confined in this area, your body would feel sluggish; your stomach can't digest food very well; and you might become more unhappy with yourself or lose your inspiration to enjoy life. A spinal twist is a powerful pose that will allow energy to go through your manipura chakra, relieves back pain, increases flexibility in the spine, improves digestion, and last but not least, increases your overall sense of self-satisfaction and pleasure.

  • Sit sideways on your chair. Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  • As you exhale, twist and grab the edge of the chair back with your hands. Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Stay in this pose for 6 - 10 breaths.
  • Come back to center, then do the pose on the other side.

Warning: If you have had a back injury or disk problems, ask your doctor or physical therapist whether this pose is appropriate for you.

Chair Yoga # 4 - Seated Cat and Cow Stretch

It is a common thing in a yoga practice to pair these two poses. Together they effectively decrease tension in your neck, shoulders and back. You would feel almost like you're giving the entire spine a gentle massage.

  • Start in the seated mountain pose. Inhale and as you exhale, round your back and lower your chin to your chest. This is called the cat pose.
  • Inhale and come up. Tilt your pelvis forward. Lift your chin and arch your back just slightly. Now you're in the cow pose.
  • Exhale and move back into cat pose. Then inhale and resume cow pose. The transition should be very slow. Let your spine gradually ease into each pose.
  • Do 4 - 6 more cycles.

Chair Yoga # 5 - Seated Cobra

The cobra pose or any other back-bending poses are the key to unlock your anahata chakra, located near your heart. In chakra study, when this area is flooded with trapped energy, your mentality could also be hindered by anxiety, wariness and pessimism. A backbend signifies a liberated heart, courage, and readiness to face whatever life might bring. You can cultivate an optimistic attitude from this pose, so to speak. On the physical level, it improves the functions of your internal organs as well as relieves tension in your shoulders.

  • Bring your hands behind you and place them on the seat, with your fingertips pointing away from your body. If your palms can't reach the seat, just rest your fingertips on it.
  • Inhale and arch your back. Lift your ribs and chin slightly. To avoid straining your neck, try to just look up instead of tilting your head all the way back. Stay in the pose for 6 - 10 breaths.

Warning: If you have had a back injury or disk problems, ask your doctor or physical therapist whether this pose is appropriate for you.

Chair Yoga # 6 - Hip Stretch

Now we are moving to the muladhara chakra in the hip area. This chakra is considered the "root support" of our being. When it is overly tigthened, our body could lose its overall vitality and our temperament could be off-balance. Forward-folding poses can release stored energy in your hips, increase flexibility and relieve knee strain. And by opening this chakra, you can also restore the sense of stability in your emotion and stay grounded in challenging times.

  • Place your right ankle on your left thigh. Flex your right foot.
  • Put your hands on your hip creases.
  • Lengthen your spine as you inhale.
  • Exhale and lean forward. Don't round your back; keep it flat and lengthened. Just lean forward from the hip creases as low as your back will allow.
  • If you'd like to deepen the stretch, place your right hand on your right knee and gently press it down.
  • Stay here for 6 - 10 breaths, then do the other side.

Chair Yoga # 7 - Seated Forward Fold

Just like the hip stretch pose, this pose aims to set free the locked-up energy in your muladhara chakra. It is an incredibly relaxing pose. The heart and belly rest softly on the thighs (or pillow). The neck is completely relaxed. And the whole spine is stretched. Most people sense the calming effect of it as soon as they settle into the pose.

  • Start in the mountain pose, then slowly lean forward.
  • Rest your stomach and chest on your thighs. You may hug your shins or just let the arms go limp. Pretend you were a ragdoll. Completely let go of everything and relax the whole body.
  • If your upper body can't lower all the way to your thighs, place a pillow on your lap, then rest your chest and head on it.
  • Stay for 6 - 10 breaths.


Chair Yoga # 8 - Corpse Pose or Savasana

Some of you who work in a very cramped office might not be able to do this pose, which is okay. Savasana is usually the last pose to do in a yoga routine, as it helps relax all the muscles and allows our body to fully cultivate the benefits from our practice. However, since this office yoga routine is not a strenuous one, it is all right if you would skip savasana.

  • Lie down in front of the chair. You may put a folded blacket or a very thin pillow under your head if you like.
  • Put your legs on the chair, making a 90-degree angle with the hips.
  • Place your arms on the floor, with your palms facing the ceiling.
  • Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth a few times, then resume your normal breathing. Continue to focus on your breathing. Cherish the comfort you're experiencing.
  • Stay in this pose for about 1 - 3 minutes.


Submit a Comment

  • monia saad profile image

    monia ben saad 2 years ago from In my Dream

    Always suffered from back pain due to sit for a long time. It is useful to know the methods of treatment through yoga. Thank you for the wonderful article

  • Web Health Mart4U profile image

    Martha 3 years ago from South Carolina

    When we sit at a desk for hours we should find the time to get relief and relaxation......thanks for the info!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

    I'm glad you found this morning yoga routine helpful, itsvssudheesh. Thanks for the kind words.

  • itsvssudheesh profile image

    itsvssudheesh 5 years ago from kochi,kerala, india

    thanks Om Paramapoonya.. For share this information. It was very informative and useful in our daily life.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Yes, even without the workout, the breathing technique can help us relax quite a bit. It's like rebooting the brain.

  • Nicole S profile image

    Nicole S Hanson 6 years ago from Minnesota

    Oh i love yoga. These are nice options for people to do in a work environment. I find the deep breathing is always helpful.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Cool! Glad you'll try this yoga routine. :)

  • profile image

    girgismcs 6 years ago

    Great iam going to try that now :D

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    You're welcome. :)

  • profile image

    mahesh chand garg 6 years ago

    thanks a lot for providing description with photos,easy to understand

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Thanks for your positive comment, naturalsolutions. :)

  • profile image

    naturalsolutions 6 years ago

    Yoga is the symbol of meditation, it is good that these days yoga can use in a lot of way like exercising, weight loss, relaxing and now for stress an anxiety relief.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    I'm so happy to hear that you found this chair yoga routine practical and helpful. Hope you fully recover soon. :)

  • evakiefer profile image

    evakiefer 6 years ago from yoga

    Thank you for the insightful information. I'm new to yoga and this is just what the doctor ordered literally. I started yoga recently due to a back injury last winter. Yoga has provided the restoration of my mobility. Sitting at a desk all day has been grueling and detrimental to my recovery. This info will go alone way and I will share with co-workers.....

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Thanks! I like the name of your studio. Very cute and quirky. :)

  • profile image

    Barefoot Studio 6 years ago

    Great Hub!! I am a Yoga Studio owner and have been practicing for may years. Your instructions are clear and easy to understand. Office yoga is a great idea for all of us who sit at desks all day. So easy to do and so beneficial. I think this hub will help a lot of people.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    Thanks, dusy. Hope you'll give it a try sometime. :)

  • dusy7969 profile image

    dusy7969 6 years ago from San Diego, California

    Great hub.This hub provide the good information about the yoga.I agree that yoga useful to reduce stress. But I never new about office yoga.When I read the tips which is mentioned above, it is wonderful and informative.Thanks a lot for this sharing and keep it up.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

    hehehe Do it when he's not in the office! :)

  • ChristineVianello profile image

    ChristineVianello 6 years ago from Philadelphia

    Great tips! Unfortunatly, I can not do # 8 in the office. My crazy boss will yell at me.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    You're welcome. :)

  • Pamela N Red profile image

    Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

    Thank you for this great yoga lesson.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @LensMan - Yoga for housewives? Hmmm...interesting. I'll think about it. Thanks for the read and kind comment.

  • LensMan999 profile image

    LensMan999 7 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

    dear paramapoonya this hub is superb and fantastic really all the yogas mentioned by you is easy to do and I can experience healthiness through out the day after following this exercises. Do share like this hub more and more and also write yogas for house wives even please.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Before lunch & at the end of the day? That sounds perfect! So good to see you here and glad you like this little yoga routine. :)

  • katiem2 profile image

    katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

    I love office yoga, wow a great counter balance and healthy ritual to end the office chair bum and firm things up and get the blood flowing. I'm so going to do these every before lunch and just before I quit for the day. Thanks :)

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Hi prasetio! Thanks a lot. Yeah, I think it's "beautiful" cuz I'm in the pictures. hehehe Just kidding. :)

  • prasetio30 profile image

    prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I liked this hub very much. I do believe that yoga useful to reduce stress. But I never new about office yoga. Wow... you made this so beautiful and really complete. The picture are represent all the description. Good work, my friend. Rating up for you.


  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thanks a lot, Peggy! :)

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Going to bookmark this and come back for refreshers. Also voting it useful and up. Nice job on this hub!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @BkCreative - That hip-stretch pose is usually done on the floor, in a reclining position. I like doing it on a chair too, though. Thanks so much for stopping by, bookmarking this and leaving such a nice comment. :)

    @MG - Very cool. Glad you find this helpful. And thanks for the thumbs up! :)

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

    O.k this is great. Definitely needed this hub today at work when I was totally stressed. Printing a copy and bookmarking for future reference and use. Thumbs up! :)

  • BkCreative profile image

    BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

    Oh excellent! And while sitting here I did these. What a stretch I got out of number 6 - the hip stretch! Great information - yay!

    Of course I am bookmarking so I can refer back if I need to - these work and are so wonderful and just what I need.

    Thanks a million - and rated way up!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @akirchner - Haha Audrey, I really hope you won't fall off the chair. Well, if you unfortunately do, just don't sue me! :)

    @quicksand - Suei? Me? Oh, you're so kind. And yeah, surya namaskar is a very good yoga routine. :)

    @lindacee - I'm pretty much like you; I used to work in a corporate environment years ago and didn't find much fun in it. Thanks so much for dropping by. :)

  • lindacee profile image

    lindacee 7 years ago from Arizona

    Have never done yoga, but I think I can even master these poses. Don't work in a corporate environment any longer (thank goodness!), however these techniques apply just as well for the home office worker. Thanks for the thorough instructions and inspiration to help us bring tranquility into our lives!

  • quicksand profile image

    quicksand 7 years ago

    C'est toi? ... Suei mark khrap!

    I am a great Yoga fan too. I used to do an exercise called "Surya Namaskar," which incorporates all the important asanas.

    Cheers! :)

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

    Cool idea for doing yoga at the office. I've always wanted to try it and see if I could get more stretch into my muscles and may just have to try this...only hope I don't fall off the chair doing it though! With my luck, it could happen. Excellently put together - as always, Om!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    @ anglnwu - Oui, c'est moi. It's me in my home office. :)

    @ Bo, aka P'Preaw, what's the "????" for?

  • profile image

    P'Preaw BKK 7 years ago


  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 7 years ago

    There is so much to learn from this hub. Again, your instructions are very clear and the pictures make it easier to visualize. Now, is that you in all the illustrations? Rated useful.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Yes, I agree that when we're not so stressed out, we can be much more productive because we can make better decisions and solve problems more effectively. And I also like yoga just because it makes my body feel really good! Thanks for dropping by and commenting, rsusan. :)

  • rsusan profile image

    Rika Susan 7 years ago from South Africa

    Thanks, Om Paramapoonya. This is a very useful hub. Our productivity will increase if we follow these suggestions for office yoga. Great way to relax and gain in flexibility.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

    Thanks for the read and the link! :)

  • profile image

    readabook 7 years ago

    This is an excellent hub. Your instructions are clear and easy to understand. Office yoga is a great idea for all of us who sit at desks all day. So easy to do and so beneficial. I think this hub will help a lot of people. I am putting a link to it on my womenwork site. Thanks.