Yoga Moves

The Only Post-Work Stretches You Need to Call It a Day on Tension

Kells McPhillips

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Photo: Getty Images/Inti St. Clair

I’m not sure what genius dreamed up the brilliant idea that we should all sit at our desks for one-third of each day to get paid, but that’s the world where most of us live. The resulting tightness from text neck and rolly chair hips means we need to unwind in more ways than one right after work—and that’s where stretches for relaxing really come in.

Chalk it up to the recovery revolution, but now many have learned the benefits of taking time to flop down on your living room and move through a quick yoga sequence. It’s like hitting the restart button on your day—even as the sun sets. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

Here are 2 videos full of relaxing stretches to do after work

Post-work Flow 1: yoga for flexibility

  1. Reclined hand-to-toe: Start lying down with your strap in hand. Bring one leg out straight in front of you, and extended the other straight up, catching it with the yoga strap and pulling it towards your head. Flex your feet so that they’re perpendicular to the mat. Send your foot out to the side until you feel your hips start to lift. Then twist your air-extended leg over the one that’s flat to feel the stretch in the outer leg. Switch legs and repeat on your opposite side.
  2. Cat-cow: Move into tabletop pose. Alternate between cat pose and cow pose. Push against the ground to pull the booty and back upwards as you look to the ground, then hollow out as you look up at the ceiling.
  3. Modified side plank: Extend one leg to the ground, press your toes against the floor, and rock back-and-forth, opening up the calves. Keep on knee rooted on the ground, rotate to the side, and extend an arm up, stretching your side body. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Single-leg stretch: Grab a blanket and extend both legs out straight in a seated position, with a blanket under your glutes. Take a deep breath and pull one foot toward you into a runner’s stretch and then catch the other leg with a yoga strap, gently pulling the leg toward your torso.
  5. Seated twist: Pull that leg up so that the ball of the foot is on the ground near your inner-thigh, then twist to the opposite side so that you’re ringing out your body as you look in the opposite direction. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Pigeon pose: Place one knee beneath your chest and send the other back behind you, making sure that you’re seated on the hip of the bent leg. Fold forward until you feel the hip release. Repeat on the opposite side.
  7. Reverse table top: With both your feet and arms on the ground and your stomach facing up, push the pelvis and hips toward the sky to stretch everything at once.

post-work Flow 2: beginner yoga flow

  1. Child’s pose: Bring your toes together with knees about mat-distance apart. Then press on your hands to move your hips back, bringing your head and upper body to rest on the floor or a block.
  2. Table top: From child’s pose, reach your arms towards the front and separate hands shoulder-distance apart.  Inhale as you come forward into tabletop, shoulders over wrists, knees underneath hips.
  3. Plank: Extend your legs one at a time towards the back of the room into plank pose. Keep your core engaged by pulling your belly button in
  4. Downward-facing dog: Lift your hips into the air while keeping your knees soft. Spiral your biceps toward each other.
  5. Warrior I: Lift your right leg up towards the ceiling as you breathe in, and bring that foot to the top of the mat. Bring your foot forward and the back foot into the ground. Press on both feet, inhale, and lift your arms up overhead into warrior I. Your right hip moves back as you lengthen forward, chest up, and add a little upper body backbend.
  6. Warrior II: Open into warrior II with your right hand straight in front, and the left straight behind you. They should form a straight line. Your left foot should be facing forward, and the right foot towards the front of the mat with your front knee bent at 90 degrees. Keep your arms strong and tuck your pelvis under.
  7. Reverse warrior: Bring your left hand onto your thigh, inhale, and lift your right hand back over your head. Your hands will then move down towards the floor.
  8. Modified flow: Move into plank pose, bend your knees and elbows, controlling as you lower your body as in one line onto the floor. Lift your chest up into cobra pose, then press on your hands and knees through to table top and then back into home base: down dog.
  9. Repeat steps four through eight on the opposite side.
  10. Bridge: Lie down on your back. Place your feet hip-width distance apart, arms towards the front, and roll your body down to form a “bridge” of sorts. Graze the back of your heels to ensure your knees are on top of your heels to protect your knees and lower back. Press on your feet and lift your pelvis up while pressing down into the palms of your hand. Stay for a few breaths.
  11. Savasana:  Extend your arms and legs straight out and come into savasana.

Have you tried leg flossing to ease the tension from all that sitting? If not, here’s a very strong argument for why you should think about your relationship with your rolly chair

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