Desk Yoga: Job searching & stretching

by Melanie Masserant, Head Editor, INALJ NYC

Desk Yoga: Job searching & stretching
(Simple stretches to sooth the seated body)

How many hours are you seated at your desk every day on average? The total of hours spent searching, online networking, and resume tailoring is a modern-day desk sentence for job seekers. Since our bodies were made for standing and moving, staying seated is painful.

Sitting for prolonged periods is physically taxing⇁it causes herniated discs, nerve problems, carpal tunnel, and stiff joints.

To alleviate pain, try the following yoga inspired stretches at your desk:


Neck & Shoulders

  • Sideways neck stretch

Slowly lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Be sure to keep the left shoulder down. Slowly inhale and exhale a few times and return your head to an upright and center position. Repeat on the left side. Repeat 3 – 5 times each side.

  • Head to chest

Lower your head towards your chest, and let the weight of your head drop so you get a full stretch on the back of your neck. Slowly raise your head to upright. Repeat 3 – 5 times.

  • Shoulder stretch

Raise both arms above your head. Hold your left wrist with your right hand and slowly stretch to the right. Be sure to elongate your spine as you bend to the right to prevent collasping on your right side and keep your elbows in line with your ears. Breathe into the stretch.Repeat on the other side. Repeat 3 – 5 times per side.

  • Hands behind back

Standing straight, interlace your fingers behind your back. Arch your back and roll your shoulders back and gently bend forward. Stretch your hands and arms up and back while forward. Hold for 5 slow breaths. Slowly release your arms and come back to an upright position. Repeat 3 – 5 times.


  • Clenched Fist

Clench hand into fist, hold for 5 seconds, then open hand again and spread fingers wide. Repeat five to 10 times on each side.

  • Bend Back

Seated, raise right arm to eye height. Pull the fingers of the right hand back until a right angle is formed  with the forearm. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on left side. Tip-Place forearm onto desk for extra leverage.

  • Push Forward

Stand and place your right palm on desk with fingers facing you, and wrist facing forward. Push the back of right hand down with your left for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.


  • Seated Twist

Sit upright in chair with head erect. Twist to the right and place left hand on right knee, and turn head to look right shoulder. Take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on left side.   *To prevent injury, keep spine straight while twisting, and do not force your spine to twist so far that it’s uncomfortable.

  • Eagle Arms

Sit upright in chair and extend arms in front of you. Cross your left bicep over the right bicep. Bend elbows so the left elbow is supported by right elbow. Wrap right forearm around left forearm and clasps left palm into right palm. Lift arms upward for a deeper stretch. Hold for 10 slow breaths. Repeat other side.

  • Standing Hamstring Stretch

Remove shoes. Stand in front of desk about 12 inches back or whatever the length of your leg is. Raise right leg (keep straight) and place right heel on edge of desk. Keep right extended leg straight and bend left standing leg. Slowly lower torso and place hands on desk or leg for an intense hamstring stretch that will release the lower back. Hold for 15 breaths and repeat on left leg.


  • Seated Pigeon

While seated, bend right leg and cross flexed right ankle over the left knee. Slowly lean forward while keeping the back straight. Reach out with torso until you feel a stretch in  the right hip and glute. To deepen stretch, press down the right knee with right hand. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on left side.


Physical health is necessary to the job hunt. If you hurt physically it will negatively impact you mentally. This added stress can be avoided if you take a few moments for yourself to stretch. Try incorporating the above poses along with online yoga if you need further relief. I suggest because it’s affordable and has a search filtering option that allows you to select your skill level, specific use, and class duration.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.