It's a consequence of the modern connected world that so many of us now spend the vast majority of our working day sat down at a desk staring at a computer screen. As such, it's not exactly surprising that this is having a detrimental effect on our health.

A great way to stay active at work is through office yoga, and that's where our Ultimate Guide To Office Yoga comes in.

We've listed some easy-to-do yoga poses you can do at work to get the blood flowing and to improve your balance, posture and flexibility.

However, we also know you may get a few funny looks from your work colleagues, so we've come up with some handy excuses you can give them too!

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The Ultimate Guide To Office Yoga - and how to do it without your colleagues thinking you're weird

Many of us spend much of our day sat at desks, which isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. One way of battling a sedentary work life is through office yoga. It’s fun, easy to do & the benefits are countless, but it can also get some odd looks from colleagues. Here’s how to do office yoga without your workmates thinking you’re weird....

The Dangers of an Inactive Lifestyle

An NHS study found that having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to:

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death due to cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death due to any cause

Doctors have even referred to sitting as “the new smoking” and “more treacherous than parachuting”. Research by The Lancet estimate the global cost of inactivity at $67.5bn a year.

The Benefits of Yoga

Some of the benefits of yoga include:

  • Improves your posture & balance
  • Improves flexibility
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Increases blood flow & self esteem
  • Ups heart rate
  • Makes you happier
  • Helps you focus & sleep deeper
  • Lowers blood sugar & blood pressure
  • Releases tension

Simple Office Yoga Exercises

Seated Backbend

  • Sitting straight, take a deep breath and reach all the way up to the ceiling, arms open wide.
  • Exhale, letting your gaze slowly draw behind you and bend backwards slightly from your upper back and chest.
  • Hold for a few seconds, release arms to your sides, then repeat a few times.

Benefits: Improve posture, reduce tension in back & shoulders

What to tell your colleagues: you’re celebrating sending a really awesome email

Desk Shoulder

  • Stand a couple of feet away from your desk.
  • Head between your arms, bend forward, placing your hands flat on the desk.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths, return to standing, repeat a few times.

Benefits: Improve posture, improve shoulder alignment, improve flexibility

What to tell your colleagues: you’re looking for your contact lense on the floor

Wrist Release

  • Bend your wrists in each direction.
  • Using your other hand press your fingertips toward the top of your arm.
  • Then bend each wrist in the other direction, pressing fingers towards the inside of your wrist.
  • Arms out straight, give your wrists a good rapid shake side to side, then up and down.

Benefits: Release tension in forearms, strengthen wrists

What to tell your colleagues: you’re practising waving like the Queen

Forward Fold

  • Standing up straight, and then fold forwards in half.
  • Let your shoulders and head hang down and hold for 5-10 breaths.

Benefits: Decompress neck and shoulders, improves balance, improve flexibility

What to tell your colleagues: you’re tying your shoelaces

Hip Opener

  • Place your right ankle on top of your left knee.
  • Breath in and start to fold forward as you exhale.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths and then do the other side.

Benefits: Improve flexibility, release tension in hips

What to tell your colleagues: you’re checking you haven’t stepped in anything nasty

Hamstring Stretch

  • Sitting on the edge of your chair, put your heel on your desk or another chair.
  • Sit up straight and then bend forward.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths and then do the other side.

Benefits: Improve flexibility, release tension in legs

What to tell your colleagues: you’re just putting your feet up after sending another excellent email

Cow Face Arms

  • Sitting straight, bring your right arm behind your back and left arm behind your head.
  • Clasp fingers and hold for 5-10 breaths.
  • Switch arms.

Benefits: Improve posture, release tension in shoulders, improve core strength

What to tell your colleagues: you’re scratching a particularly troublesome itch

Seated Forward Bend

  • Sitting straight, place arms behind your lower back, interlacing your fingers.
  • Bend forward from the waist, bringing your interlaced hands over your back.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Benefits: Improve flexibility, release tension in back & shoulders, relieve back ache

What to tell your colleagues: you’re on your own with this one!

Easy Ways To Stay Active At Work

  • Stand on the train or bus
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
  • Work at a standing desk
  • Stand or walk around while on the phone
  • Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling

How Big Companies Keep Their Employees Healthy

Many companies recognise the importance of a healthy & happy workforce. Here’s how some businesses keep their employees active at work…

Google provides on-site fitness centres, dance classes and even a bowling alley.

Energy company ConocoPhillips runs afternoon Tai Chi, as well as “I don’t really want to sweat” classes for the less athletic employees.

Twitter provides an on-site gym with CrossFit classes.

At General Electric, staff have access to a 24/7 health hotline and smokers pay more in health care contributions than non-smokers.

Financial messaging company Swift has built an on-site sports centre where employees can enjoy swimming, basketball, squash and ping-pong.