Performance-Building Yoga Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk

7 Stretches to Relieve Tension

It's great to do a yoga routine before or after work, but you could also incorporate some stretches into the rest of your day. Stretch breaks are especially important for people whose jobs require them to sit at a desk in front of a computer for long hours, resulting in ​back pain and neck pain.

Just taking a few minutes to do stretches at your desk can relieve stress, increase productivity, and, most importantly, make you feel better.​ Below are several options for desk-friendly stretches to try that can help relieve physical and mental tension and combat the effects of sitting.


Neck Rolls

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Neck pain and stiffness are common side effects of sitting in non-optimal positions for many hours each day. Reduce tension and strain on your neck with stretches and active mobility movements such as neck rolls which can help keep your neck flexible and reduce strain.

  1. Take your shoes off before starting these stretches if you are wearing high heels.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Let your chin drop down to your chest.
  4. Begin to circle your neck slowly, taking the right ear to the right shoulder, the head back, and then the left ear to the left shoulder.
  5. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and don't hurry through any areas of tightness that you come across.
  6. Do three to five rolls and then switch directions and take another three to five rolls.

Cat-Cow Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The desk-version of the cat-cow is effective for relieving the tension that builds up in your upper back, shoulder, and neck. This movement involves flexion and extension of the spine to increase mobility and flexibility while relieving tight muscles.

  1. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your hands to your knees.
  3. On an inhale, arch the back and look up toward the ceiling.
  4. On the exhale, round the spine and let your head drop forward.
  5. Repeat for three to five breaths.

This stretch is adapted from the cat-cow stretch.


Seated Forward Bend

Seated forward bend

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The seated forward bend is excellent for combating should tightness and tension. It also helps improve pain and strain on your upper and lower back, hips, and neck.

  1. Push your chair back from your desk.
  2. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Interlace your fingers behind your back.
  4. Straighten your arms as much as possible, drawing your interlaced fingers down.
  5. Fold at the waist, bringing your interlaced hands over your back.
  6. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck.

This stretch is adapted from the standing forward bend.


Seated Eagle

Seated eagle

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

While the seated eagle pose removes the balance aspect of the exercise, it still provides the stretching aspect for the hips, thighs, and shoulders.

  1. Cross your right leg over your left leg. If you can, wrap your right foot around your left calf.
  2. Take your arms out to either side, parallel to the floor.
  3. Bring the arms forward, crossing your left arm over the right one and bringing the palms to touch.
  4. Lift the elbows while keeping the shoulders sliding down your back.
  5. Repeat with the left arm over the right.

This stretch is adapted from eagle pose.


Seated Spinal Twist

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Spending a lot of time sitting can increase tension and weakness in the trunk muscles that leads to tightness and impaired range of motion. Spinal twists such as this seated version can help combat the effects of this.

  1. Turn so you are sitting sideways in your chair.
  2. Bring both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Twist towards the back of the chair, holding the back of the chair with both hands.
  4. Turn yourself 180 degrees so you are facing the opposite side of the chair to do the twist on the other side.

This stretch is adapted from half lord of the fishes pose.


Wrist Stretch

Wrist stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your wrists can become strained from using a keyboard and writing utensils in repetitive motions. Wrist flexion and extension exercises can help combat the strain from this type of work.

  1. Stand up.
  2. Turn your hands so that the insides of your wrists face your computer and your fingers face the edge of the desk.
  3. Lean away from your desk with your arms straight while flattening your palms as much as possible.
  4. Back off if you feel pain.

Standing Pigeon

Standing pigeon

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Standing pigeon pose is an excellent hip and glute stretch that can relieve tightness and increase openness, flexibility, and mobility in your hips.

  1. Stand up.
  2. Bring your right shin onto your desk parallel to the edge of the desk.
  3. Take a forward bend over your right leg, hinging at your hips.
  4. Repeat on the other leg.

This stretch is adapted from the pigeon pose.

A Word From Verywell

Desk work can take a toll on the body, leading to stiffness and tension in the body. Taking breaks to stretch and move your body can help combat these effects, improving joint fluid secretions and posture. Aim to add 5-minute stretch or movement breaks every hour while working at your desk.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Tunwattanapong P, Kongkasuwan R, Kuptniratsaikul V. The effectiveness of a neck and shoulder stretching exercise program among office workers with neck pain: A randomized controlled trialClin Rehab. 2015;30(1):64-72. doi:10.1177/0269215515575747

  3. Grabara M, Szopa J. Effects of hatha yoga exercises on spine flexibility in women over 50 years oldJ Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(2):361-365.

  4. Waongenngarm P, Rajaratnam BS, Janwantanakul P. Internal oblique and transversus abdominis muscle fatigue induced by slumped sitting posture after 1 hour of sitting in office workersSaf Health Work. 2016;7(1):49-54.  doi:10.1016/

  5. Princeton University Health Services. Ergonomics & computer use.

  6. Hebshi S. Yoga poses to pair with your high-intensity interval training. American Council on Exercise. 2016.

  7. Cleveland Clinic. Wake Up Stiff and Sore Every Morning? Try These Adjustments to Make Sleep Swell Again.

  8. Beach TA , Parkinson RJ , Stothart JP , et al. Effects of prolonged sitting on the passive flexion stiffness of the in vivo lumbar spineSpine J. 2005;5:145–54. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2004.07.036

  9. Cooley D, Pedersen S. A pilot study of increasing nonpurposeful movement breaks at work as a means of reducing prolonged sittingJ Environ Public Health. 2013;2013:128376. doi:10.1155/2013/128376

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.