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15-Minute Yoga Stretch for a Midday Break (Because…Monday)

15-Minute Yoga Stretch for a Midday Break (Because…Monday)


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The kinks that come from sitting at a desk for hours and unconsciously holding onto tension can be undone—but not by doing more of what landed you in that state. The following 15-minute yoga stretch is designed as an afternoon respite to help you release pent-up physical tightness as well as emotional jitters without causing you to even break a sweat.

No yoga props are needed. Just yourself, some comfortable clothes, and a space large enough to move in (carpet will do just fine if your yoga mat isn’t nearby).

15-Minute Yoga Stretch for an Afternoon Desk Break

As you practice your 15-minute yoga stretch, spend as long as you can in each yoga pose, lingering until you feel your muscles release tension.

Yoga teacher sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat in Easy Seat, also known as Meditation Pose
Easy Seat also known as Meditation Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Easy Seat

Start seated in a simple cross-legged position, taking time to wiggle out any discomfort. Slowly straighten your spine as you bring your hands to your knees or thighs and close down your eyes. Allow your tailbone to grow heavy toward the ground and reach your head toward the ceiling. Release your shoulders away from your ears as your belly softens.

Breathe in and feel your chest and belly fill with your breath and exhale and release your rib cage as your collarbone floats back down. Take a few more rounds of breath like that.

Yoga teacher on a yoga mat sitting cross-legged and leaning to one side
Seated Side Bend (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Seated Side Bend

As you inhale, reach your hands toward the ceiling. Your gaze may follow. As you exhale, let your arms softly come back down by your sides. Repeat twice more. On your third round, plant your left hand by your side on the ground as your right arm reaches up and over into a side bend. Breathe into the right side of your body as you lengthen and feel your right fingertips and left hip draw away from each other. Then reach both arms reach toward the ceiling and let them fall by your sides. Repeat on the other side.

Woman sitting cross-legged and leaning forward
Cross-Legged Forward Fold (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Cross-Legged Forward Fold

Reach both arms toward the ceiling one last time and as you exhale extend your arms straight ahead as you fold forward over your legs so your hands meet the ground. Lengthen your spine away from your hips and then let your body round forward over your crossed legs. When you’re ready, walk your hands back toward your knees.

Woman sitting on a yoga mat and stretching her neck
Neck Stretches (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Neck Stretches

Place your hands on the ground behind you and switch the crossing of your legs. Bring your right hand into a fist shape behind your back and wrap your left hand around your right. Guide your fist to land on your right lower back. Let your head fall to the left in the opposite direction of your fist for a gentle neck stretch.

You may bring your chin a little bit closer or farther away from your chest like you’re nodding yes. This can help you find anyplace in your neck that needs some extra attention. If you find that spot, hold there and breathe. Repeat on the second side, switching the grip of your fist and head falling in the opposite direction. Release your fist, lengthen your arms toward the ceiling, and fold forward over your shins.

Woman kneeling on a yoga mat practicing Cow Pose
Cow Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Cat-Cow

Walk your hands back toward your legs and roll over your shins to find a Tabletop position on your hands and knees. Take three rounds of Cat-Cow, moving with your breath. As you inhale, let your belly move toward the ground and your chest shines through the gate of your arms in Cow Pose.

Woman on hands and knees practicing Cat Pose on a yoga mat
Cat Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

As you exhale, your head becomes heavy as your tailbone tucks under and you push the spot between your shoulder blades up in Cat Pose.

Woman kneeling on a yoga mat with her arms alongside her ears
Low Lunge (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Low Lunge

Come to a neutral, flat spine. Straighten your right foot behind you with your toes tucked and reach through your heel for a stretch. Then step your right foot in between your hands. You may need to wiggle your foot a little bit farther forward so that you can bend sufficiently into your right knee. Bring your arms alongside your ears with your fingers reaching toward the ceiling in a Low Lunge. If you feel wobbly, wiggle your right foot more to the right to create a wider base. Inhale in this position.

Woman kneeling on a yoga mat with one knee down and one foot forward
(Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

As you exhale, gently drop your arms by your sides and straighten your right knee slightly as you push back and out of the lunge and stretch the back of your right leg. Continue floating in and out of Low Lunge for 3 more rounds.

Half Splits
(Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Half Splits

From Low Lunge, place your hands on the ground or blocks, framing your right foot. As you straighten your right leg, shift your hips back and flex your right foot into Half Splits. You may need to wiggle your right heel further forward. As you inhale, reach the crown of your head forward. Use your exhale to allow your upper body to release forward over your right leg.

Rebend your right knee as you walk your hands back toward your legs. Step your leg back into Tabletop. Step your left foot forward to find a Low Lunge and repeat. Come back to Tabletop.

Woman lying on her belly in Sphinx Pose
Sphinx Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Sphinx Pose

Lower yourself onto your forearms, stacking your elbows under your shoulders. Extend your legs long behind you as your hips melt toward the mat in Sphinx Pose. Gently push your forearms into the ground and feel yourself energetically pulling your shoulders back so your heart shines forward. Keep your gaze down and slightly forward off the top of the mat. Breathe a few rounds in stillness here.

Yoga teacher on a mat practicing a hip opener
Restorative Half Frog Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Restorative Half Frog Pose

Keep your upper body as it is and bend your left knee so your thigh comes out to a 90-degree angle in Half Frog. Notice if you’re holding any tension in your glutes here. You may need to wiggle your hips a little from side to side or squeeze your right glute and release to assist in its release. Stay here a couple of rounds of breath to allow gravity to help you open.

Straighten your right leg long behind you. Take a beat here to notice the difference in feeling from one leg to the other, and one hip to the other. This time draw your left leg into half frog for the second side and repeat. Bring your left leg long and then stack your hands and rest your forehead on the back of your hands. Notice again any difference from the left-hand side of your body to the right.

Woman lying on her belly on a yoga mat while bending her knees and letting them fall side to side
Prone Windshield Wipers (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Prone Windshield Wipers

Bend your knees and guide your heels towards your bum as you allow your legs to fall heavy from side to side for some gentle windshield wipers for your lower back.

Woman kneeling with her toes tucked and her hips on her heels
Thunderbolt Pose (Photo: Taylor Lorenz)

Thunderbolt Pose

Draw your 15-minute yoga stretch to a close as you draw your hands beneath your shoulders and push into the mat to lift yourself. Come to sit back on your heels in Thunderbolt Pose or, if this isn’t comfortable, return to sitting with your legs crossed.

Bring your hands over your heart. Close your eyes to take one more deep inhalation through your nose. As you exhale, audibly sign out your mouth. Thank yourself for showing up on the mat today and for doing this short and simple act of self-love for your mind, body, and soul.



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