6 Office Yoga Poses for a Quick “Coffee” Break Pick-Me-Up

The dreaded eight-hour workday can slowly chip away at us. We’re exhausted before we even make it to our desk in the morning. We rely on caffeine hits to make it through our midday meetings. And by the time we get home, we want nothing but the couch and Netflix.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, contrary to what seems intuitive, being sedentary actually creates tiredness. The secret to vitality lies in movement.

But, most of us aren’t able to bust out our treadmills at the cubicle or bench press our coworkers. So we desperately await our coffee breaks to get a pick-me-up. But, as always, yoga can be our saving grace!

We can be sneaky little yogis, even in heels or suits in the office. If we just move our bodies even a little bit every 30 minutes or so, then our energy levels will be higher, and our productivity will skyrocket. So get your blood circulating and your energy pumping!

Here Are 6 Yoga Poses You Can Practice in the Office for a Quick Caffeine-Free Pick-Me-Up

Practice one or all of these subtle and discreet yoga poses the next time you feel like your eyelids are a bit too heavy.

1. Simple Neck Stretch 

Woman stretching her neck to the side with seated yoga pose.

Simple but so effective, a gentle neck stretch can awaken and release your sore neck muscles after staring at a screen for too long.

  1. Find a comfortable seat and elongate your spine.
  2. Soften your shoulders down away from your ears and reach the crown of your head to the sky.
  3. Gently release your right ear toward your right shoulder. (Note: You can rest a hand gently on the side of the head, but be sure not to pull down, simply relax the weight of the arm.)
  4. Soften your jaw and relax the muscles of your face.
  5. Hold here for at least ten deep breaths and then draw your head back to neutral and repeat on the opposite side.

2. Seated Twist

Man practicing seated yoga twist in office chair.

A gentle spinal twist can invigorate you as it carefully “caresses” your spinal column.

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and elongate your spine.
  2. As you inhale, stretch the crown of your head to the sky and reach your right hand behind your right hip. Rest your left hand on your right knee.
  3. As you exhale, spiral and rotate over your right shoulder.
  4. With each breath in, grow a little bit taller through your spinal column.
  5. With each breath out, carefully rotate a little bit deeper into your twist.
  6. Hold for about 30 seconds, unwind, and switch sides.

3. Seated Marjarasana/Bitilasana (Cat/Cow Pose)

Woman practicing chair yoga cat-cow flow.

Nothing gets your blood flowing quite like some flexion and extension of the spine. And you can even practice this discreetly in your office chair.

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and elongate your spine.
  2. Rest your hands on your knees.
  3. As you inhale, expand your belly forward in space. Draw the tips of your shoulder blades toward each other and peel your heart open. Maybe shift your gaze toward the sky.
  4. As you exhale, draw your navel toward your spine and round your back. Hug your chin toward your chest and stretch your shoulder blades apart.
  5. Continue flowing between these two shapes following your rhythm of breath for about one to two minutes.

4. Side Body Stretch

Female yoga student practicing yoga side stretch in a chair.

Our often neglected side bodies deserve some TLC too, and this simple but oh-so-good stretch will reinvigorate you without any caffeine necessary at all!

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor and elongate your spine.
  2. Rest your right hand on your chair’s armrest or hold on to the edge of your chair.
  3. As you inhale, reach your left arm to the sky and lengthen your whole left side body.
  4. As you exhale, slowly hinge from your waistline and side bend to lean your torso toward the right.
  5. Root your left hip toward the chair and elongate from your left hip to your left fingertips. Ever so slightly, peel your heart toward the ceiling.
  6. Hold for a few long, deep breaths before switching sides.

5. Chair Pose

Woman practicing yoga chair pose.

Most of us tend to sit quite a lot at work. And we’ve all heard that sitting is the new smoking. But sitting without support is a whole lot better since we force our muscles to contract to hold us upright. Sitting without a chair is difficult, but it can be super rewarding. (At least for a quick midday pick-me-up!)

  1. Remove your chair from your desk.
  2. Find Tadasana (Mountain Pose) by standing either with your feet together or roughly hips-distance apart. Draw your hands to your heart.
  3. Root down into your heels and elongate your spine. Energize your core by cinching in around your waistline and drawing your navel in and up.
  4. Maintain this activation and bend your knees deeply to squat toward the ground.
  5. Energetically hug your legs toward each other and keep your core strong.
  6. Sit low into your seat and either keep your hands as they are or continue typing while sitting low in your chair pose.
  7. Hold for as long as you comfortably can before returning to sit in your supportive chair.

6. Office Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Female yoga student practicing plank and chaturanga with chair.

Chaturanga just might be the ultimate energizing posture. It takes concentration and strength, and it definitely gets your heart pumping! While it might take a slightly more relaxed work environment to practice this one, it’s great to introduce into your office space for a fun, quick pick-me-up. This pose can either be done on a folding chair placed on a non-slip yoga mat (or propped up against a wall) or with your hands on the edge of a sturdy desk or table.

  1. Prepare your chair by placing it on a yoga mat (pictured) or prop it against a wall. Alternatively, you can place your hands on the edge of your desk.
  2. Place your hands on the edge of your chair seat or desk edge about shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers wide.
  3. Step your feet back until you create one long plank line with your body.
  4. Activate your core by three-dimensionally corseting your waistline and draw your belly button in toward your spine and up toward your ribcage.
  5. Kick back through your heels and stretch the crown of your head forward to fully lengthen your whole back body.
  6. Take a full breath in, and as you exhale, slowly bend your elbows straight back behind you to lower to a point where you still feel strong enough to press back up.
  7. On an inhalation, press down into your hands and lift your whole body back up into your plank shape (maintaining one long line of energy from head to toes).
  8. Continue lowering and lifting for as long as you comfortably can while focusing on your breath.

Yoga Might Work Even Better Than Caffeine!

There’s nothing worse than starting your day exhausted or hitting an afternoon slump in the middle of your workday.

While it may seem best to rest when we feel this lethargy, it’s almost always best to get moving.

You don’t need a two-hour cardio session to get your blood flowing and your heart rate pumping to invigorate you. A few simple yoga poses that you can practice right at your desk will do just fine to replace your morning or afternoon coffee for a quick and healthy pick-me-up!

Lillah Schwartz, Lillah's course for Healthy Backs, YogaUOnline presenter, Yoga Teacher, Yoga practice tips

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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