To Jen Kluczkowski and Chiyoko Osborne, co-founders of Mindfresh, the concept of yoga in the office is a no-brainer. “At work, we’re always multitasking, which depletes our mental energy, and yoga trains your brain to monotask. Think of it the way you would your iPhone—when you shut down all the apps you’re not using, the phone works better. Your brain is the same way. If you take time during the day to quiet your mind, you can be more creative and productive.” After nearly 10 years in demanding offices (Jen was one of the first East Coast employees at Pandora, and Chiyoko worked in content marketing at Calvin Klein and Alexander Wang), they’ve created Mindfresh to bring the benefits of yoga to people in similar roles. They’re creating happier, more productive work environments all over New York City, and they’ve generously shared a yoga sequence that can be done right at your desk.
1. Extended Side Angle Pose
Ground down through your left foot and gently place your right foot on the seat of a chair, creating a 90-degree angle with the leg. Turn your hips and left foot out to the left. Bend your right elbow and rest your right forearm on top of your right thigh. Reach your left arm up and over and gaze up at your left palm. Keep rotating your chest toward the ceiling, hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.
2. Standing Spinal Twist
Ground down through your left foot and gently place your right foot on the seat of a chair, creating a 90-degree angle with your right leg. Keep hips square and press your palms together at the center of the chest. Twist from your navel to the right side, then lower your torso so you can hook your left elbow outside of your right knee. Continue pressing your palms together strongly to keep the chest open, and then gaze past your right shoulder. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.
3. Tree Pose
In a standing position, look at a steady point to fix your gaze. Ground down through your left foot and draw your right knee into the chest. Open your right knee out to the right and place the sole of your right foot against your inner left thigh, calf or ankle. Keep your hips even. Press palms together at the center of the chest. Hold for a few breaths.
4. Pigeon Pose with Twist
Bring your sit bones to the edge of the chair and bring your legs together to touch, so your inner heels and inner knees are together. Draw your right knee into your chest and then open it out to the side, resting your right ankle on your left knee. Flex the right toes. Lengthen your spine and sit up tall by pressing down into your sit bones. Twist from the navel to the right side. Place your left hand on your right knee and take your right hand to your arm for leverage. Make sure the sit bones stay grounded and gaze past your right shoulder. Take 5 deep breaths and switch sides.
5. Standing Chest Opener
In a standing position, place your feet hip-width apart, making sure they're parallel. Take your arms behind you and interlace the fingers together. If possible, you can press palms together to expand the chest more. Puff out your chest, drop your chin to your chest and then extend the arms up, away from your back. Make sure your tailbone is drawing down toward the floor. Take 5 breaths here, then release the arms back alongside your body.
6. Eagle Pose
Draw your right knee into the chest and cross it over the left leg (or you can double wrap the right ankle around the left calf). Press your sit bones down into the chair to lengthen the spine. Reach your arms straight in front of you at shoulder-height with the palms facing each other. Cross the right arm underneath the left arm, bend your elbows so your arms are now perpendicular to the floor and try to wrap the right wrist around the left wrist to press your palms together. If this is not happening today, cross your right arm underneath the left and grab hold of your shoulder blades behind you. If you can, fold forward, while keeping the spine long and chest open, to deepen the stretch. Take 5 breaths here and switch sides.