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Practice Yoga in the Workplace to De-Stress

Practice Yoga in the Workplace to De-Stress, tips featured by radiation oncology experts, SROA

By Kate Vantucci

Sitting is the new smoking. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. With more and more people working from home, and with laptops, cell phones and email, the lines between our work lives and home lives have most definitely blurred, which leads to longer working days and more hours spent “logged in.”

While studies have shown that we are not necessarily sitting more than our prehistoric predecessors we also aren’t getting up and moving around as much as we once did. Sure, we can buy a standing desk, or sit on an exercise ball while we work to mitigate some of the negative effects of sitting, but a better strategy might be to incorporate short periods of movement during the day.

But what can you do that won’t be super disruptive to your workday? And what if this short movement could help you stay sane when you start to feel stressed from all those hours at your desk?

Yoga in the workplace is a great solution. You don’t need any fancy equipment -- you don’t really even need to leave your desk. A few stretches a day could leave you feeling both physically and mentally rejuvenated.  But where to start?

Tips for Practising Yoga in the Workplace

Before you incorporate any movements, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting started to maximize the benefits:

  • Acknowledge and release tension: Our shoulders, hips and low back take the brunt of the desk abuse. So, start with gentle ways of loosening the tension in your shoulders. A simple practice is to start to pay attention to the times you are holding tension there and actively work to relax those muscles. Often, we’re tensing, and we don’t even realize it. The more you can acknowledge when you’re holding tension, the easier it becomes to relax. After practicing this for a while, you might begin to notice that you are no longer living with your shoulders hiked up to your ears.
  • Be mindful of breath: For some of us, our breathing is a constant consideration, for others, it could be weeks, even years before we notice a single breath. When stress starts to kick in, we pay little attention to the effects on our breathing, but that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t happening.


Stress makes us take quicker, more shallow breaths, and boom, our flight, fight or freeze response has kicked in. The chemicals that are released take hours, sometimes days to get out of our system. No wonder we constantly feel as if we’re standing at the edge of a cliff. We are living in a state of constant survival. Slow, deep breaths can act like a cool, fresh spring. When we breathe deeply, we’re stepping out of the constant cycle of fight or flight and engaging our parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system related to rest (among other things).


Try incorporating little pockets of quiet relaxation into your day where you close your eyes and follow the rhythm of your breath.


Now that our shoulders are relaxed and our focus is on our breath, what’s next? There are so many stretches you can do to lessen the strain of sitting. Here are three simple exercises you can do right at your desk.

  1. Crossing your ankle over the top of your opposite thigh while you sit at your desk helps to stretch tight, contracted hip muscles. Do that a few times per day each leg and you’ll help loosen your cranky low back.
  2. Stand at your desk and step one foot back turning your toes out at a slight angle and as you bend your front knee, anchor your weight into your back heel. This will lengthen the back of your back leg, freeing your calves and hamstrings, again effectively releasing strain on your low back. Try it, it’s amazing.
  3. Add seated twists into your day with or without gentle neck stretches.

The options are seemingly endless to practice yoga in the workplace, and each one will help usher quiet moments into our workday that can lead to better physical, emotional, and mental health. Remember, small changes can lead to big improvements. Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.

Curious about what yoga stretches you can do at your desk? Check Kate Vantucci Yoga on YouTube for a quick Desk Yoga video.


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