Can’t get away from your desk? Check out chair yoga.

Physiotherapist at Bupa UK
29 November 2017

Getting restless at your desk? We all know it’s best to stand up and move around regularly throughout the day. But for those days when you just can’t seem to get away, take five minutes to try this simple chair yoga routine instead. You can also give it a go when you’re at home!

Just click on the video to find out how to do this routine, or follow the written steps below.

Yoga poses in this video

Part one – sat at your chair

To start, sit in your chair with your feet hip-width apart and your knees in line with your hips. Place your hands on your knees and practise some deep-breathing. This will help to activate your abdominal (tummy) muscles.

A photo of a female physiotherapist sat on a chair with her arms resting on her lap

Place your hands on either side of your head and then twist your upper body to face the side. Hold for a few moments and then twist to face the other side.

A photo of a female physiotherapist sat down, with her hands behind her head and her torso turned to one side, alongside the caption 'position one, thoracic rotations'

Contract inwards from your tummy letting your chin drop down towards your chest. Hold and then sit up straight – eye line lifted and back slightly arched.

A photo of a female physiotherapist sat down and leaning forward, with the caption 'position two, cat and cow'

A photo of a female physiotherapist, sat on a chair with her arms resting and her chest lifted: the caption reads 'position two, cat and cow'

Move your feet apart, opening your legs as wide as possible.

A photo of a female physiotherapist, sat on a chair with her legs apart: the caption reads 'position three, rag doll' 

Slowly fold down through your spine until your head is suspended between your legs. As you do this, bring your arms into position. Then swing gently from one side to the other feeling the stretch in your lower back.

A photo of a female physiotherapist sat down, with her body leaning forward so her head is between her legs

When you're done, come back to the centre, roll up and relax your arms.

Slide your hand down the inside of your calf, lean to one side and bring your other arm up and over your head. Feel the stretch and then come back to the centre.

A photo of a physiotherapist sat on a chair and leaning to one side. with the caption 'position four, side flexes'

Now circle your arms lifting them forward, up and round.

A photo of a female physiotherapist lifting her arms above her head in a circular motion, with the caption 'position five: circular arms'

A photo of a female physiotherapist squatting with her arms extended upwards from the elbow

Bring your feet back together, lift one foot up, and with your knee out towards the side, rest it on your opposite thigh and feel the stretch. If you want to, lean forward to deepen the stretch.

A photo of a female physiotherapist, sat down with one leg raised and place on top of the other, with the caption 'position six, pidgeon pose'


Part two – standing next to your chair

For this next part, you'll need to stand by the side of your chair. Move any obstacles out of the way and adjust the position of your chair if you need to.

Draw your foot up along the inside of your calf and then open and close your leg.

Make sure that you're rotating your leg from your hip joint and not twisting your whole body. Use the chair for support if you need to.

A photo of a female physiotherapist, balancing against a chair with one leg slightly raised against the other: the caption says 'position seven, tree pose'

Stand so that your fingertips are just in reach of your chair. Squat planting the pressure through your heels and pushing back up through your glutes.

A photo of a female physiotherapist squatting with her arms against a chair, and the caption 'position eight, squats'

Using the back of your chair for support, lean forward and stretch out your back.

As you stretch, transfer the weight through your left arm and then through your right to get a deeper stretch. Drop down to the floor and then slowly roll up through your spine.

A photo of a female physiotherapist leaning forward at a right angle against a chair

A photo of a female physiotherapist leaning forward to touch the floor, preparing to stand up

Want to learn more about yoga? Try these other yoga blogs

  • Morning yoga – this video routine takes just 15 minutes and can help get your day off to a flying start.
  • Bikram yoga – read why Dr Lynsey Baird feels taking up this type of yoga, which is done in a heated room, was “one of the best things I’ve ever done”.
  • Which type of yoga is best for you? – if you’re not sure which type of yoga to do, reading this is your perfect starting point.
  • Five reasons to start yoga – more information about why yoga is good for you and how it originated.

Finally, if you’re looking for more ways to do mini-exercise sessions at your desk, why not give these fantastic desk stretches a go?

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Lucie O’Shaughnessy
Physiotherapist at Bupa UK

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