If you’re anything like me, sitting at a desk for eight hours a day can be pretty taxing on the ol’ joints. I’d wager that at some point or another, all office dwellers suffer from some form of physical discomfort because of their daily 9-to-5 routine. Check out this list of a few of my favorite yoga poses you can use to combat achy hips and legs, lower back pain, eyestrain and everything in between.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

-Relaxing the head, neck and shoulders.
-Gently stretching the hips, thighs, knees and ankles.
-Peace of mind and stress relief.

1. Start by kneeling on your hands and knees.
2. Gently separate your knees to about hip-width distance big toes touching behind you.
3. Exhale as you slowly lower your chest onto your thighs, resting your forehead on the floor.
4. Extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing down. If this feels like too much sensation, keep your arms resting at your sides.
5. Breathe deeply in the pose and stay in it as long as you need to feel relaxed.

2. Cow/Cat (Marjariasana)

-Releasing tension from the spine.
-Stretching the back, abdominal and neck muscles.

1. Start by kneeling on your hands and knees. Make sure your arms are shoulder-width distance apart and your knees are hip-width distance apart.
2. Bring your back to a neutral, horizontal position.
3. Inhale as you lift your gaze toward the ceiling. Open your chest to send your shoulder blades down your back and to extend your backside – some yogis like to call this your “sit bones” – upward.
4. Exhale as you bring your gaze down to the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles as you perform an exaggerated rounding of your spine (similar to a Halloween cat in a cartoon).
5. Repeat this cycle as needed, returning to a neutral spine when you’re done.

3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

-Elongating and releasing tension from the spine.
-Stretching the hamstrings, calves, arches of the feet, and hands.
-Strengthening the arms, shoulders and back.
-Stress relief.

1. Start by kneeling on your hands and knees, hands about 5 inches in front of you, fingers spread as far apart as you can manage.
2. Exhale as you lift your knees off the floor to extend your sit bones toward the ceiling. You should look like an inverted V when all is said and done.
3. If necessary, keep a slight bend in your knees and float your heels above the mat, pressing them down until you feel a nice stretch in your calves. 
4. Elongate your spine through the tailbone, moving your stomach toward your thighs.
5. Extend your gaze through your shins, keeping your neck in a neutral position.
6. Hold for several breaths, then return to child’s pose (see No. 1 above), if desired. 

4. Half Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

-Opening the hip flexor, hip rotator and groin muscles.

1. From downward facing dog, inhale as you lift your right leg straight off the floor. Keep your toes flexed and pointing down to ensure that your hips are in line.
2. Exhale as you bring your leg through your arms, landing in a low lunge.
3. Bring your right knee forward onto the floor so it lands just behind your right wrist.
4. Curl your left toes under and gently extend your leg onto the floor behind you, making sure to keep both your leg and your foot straight.
5. Draw your inner thighs together to find buoyancy in your hips. Place your hands next to or on your hips and extend your gaze out over your right shoulder. This will ensure that you’re not dumping all of your weight onto your right hip.
6. Exhale and slowly walk your hands forward, placing your elbows on the floor in front of you. If you feel comfortable – and ONLY if you feel comfortable – extend your torso to rest your forehead on the floor.
7. Stay in this position for a several breaths and repeat for the left leg.

5. Thread the Needle (Parsva Balasana)

-Opening the upper and outer muscles of the shoulder.
-The slight twist detoxifies and calms the body.

1. Begin in a neutral position on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under your feet and bring your knees to hip-width distance apart.
2. Extend your right arm underneath your body toward the left side of your mat.
3. Rest the outer part of your right arm, your right shoulder and the right side of your face on the floor.
4. Stay in the position for several breaths before returning to a neutral tabletop position. Repeat on the left side.

6. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

-Stretching the hips, hamstrings and calves.
-Strengthening the thighs and knees.
-Relieving stress and calming the mind.

1. From downward facing dog, inhale as you look forward and exhale as you make your way to the top of your mat. (Take as many or as few steps as you need to get there!)
2. Fold forward so your torso is facing your thighs. Make sure the fold is coming from your hips and not from the rounding of your lower back.
3. If necessary, keep a soft bend in your knees. Straighten your knees as much as you are able until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.
4. Breathe in this position for as long as you need. You can also feel free to move into another pose, like Half-Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana) or Mountain (Tadasana).

What are some of your favorite tension- and stress-relieving exercises? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Annika Peick
Graphic Designer, Business Record