Start with your breathing. The most fundamental exercise in yoga is learning how to breathe. While you are at work, it is likely that your breath is shallow and quick, particularly if you are under stress. Your office yoga class starts by focusing on your breathing. Start by shutting your office door if you have one and turning off your computer. Next sit on your office chair with your feet hips-distance apart, flat on the floor. Next, close your eyes and take a deep inhale followed by a deep exhale through your nose, not your mouth. If it helps, count to three slowly as you inhale and count to three slowly as you exhale. As you do this, relax the muscles in your face, unfurrow your forehead and eyebrows, unclench your jaws and lengthen the back of your spine while drawing your shoulders away from your ears. Take at least 10 breaths in this stance. You want to continue to maintain that same elongated breath as you work through the postures.
Stretch your shoulders. As you keep breathing deeply through your nose, raise your arms over your head and have the palms of your hands face one another. Draw your shoulders down your back as you lengthen up through the top of your head. Feel this posture for five deep breaths. Next, extend your arms straight out in front of you so that they are at chest level. With palms still facing one another, extend your fingers out, hunching your shoulders slightly. Then, draw your shoulders back but pay special attention to not lift your shoulders into your ears. Keep drawing your shoulder blades down your back as you continue to extend through your fingertips. Do this movement five times.
Lengthen your upper body. As you continue to stay seated, allow your breath to lift up through the front of your chest on an inhalation as you reach your arms behind you and interlace your fingers. Start to lean forward keeping the front of your spine straight and lift your arms up toward the ceiling. As you do this, press your shoulder blades in toward one another and draw them down your back. Only lift your arms as far as they feel comfortable. Once you've reached a comfortable level, stay there for three breaths. Lower your arms again and repeat this exercise four more times. With each repetition, be aware of any changes you may feel in the extension of your arms and upper back.
Rise and shine. Next, stand up and move away from your desk. With your feet together and your hands at your sides, lift your arms up over your head on an inhalation. As you exhale, fold forward bringing your hands to the floor or near the floor. If you have lower back problems, bend your knees as you fold forward. Stay here for one complete breath cycle. Then, leading with your chest on an inhalation, raise your arms up over your head as you return to standing. Bring your palms together and look at your hands. As you exhale, lower your hands to your sides so that you return to your starting position. As you do this series of movements, pay special attention to leading with the front of your chest as you both fold forward and come up. Don't allow your shoulders to hunch as you make your way in and out of this posture. Keeping your chin lifted and your eyes gazing beyond the tip of your nose as you fold forward and come up will help you keep your spine straight. Repeat this movement at least five times.
Rest and refresh. Return to your chair or sit down in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor of your office. Close your eyes and bring your attention back to your breath. As your mind wanders to what you need to accomplish for the rest of your workday, bring it back to your breath. Remember to keep the muscles in your face relaxed and to keep your spine elongated. Stay in this posture for five minutes or longer. As the workday stress ensues, simply take a few yogic breaths to remind yourself of the peace and stillness you cultivated through your office yoga practice.