Between commuting, office jobs, and time in front of the TV, we love to sit. You’ve probably already heard, but this sitting habit is really bad for you. Sitting at a desk for extended periods of time can lead to achy muscles and joints, and over time can cause problems like muscle tension and lack of mobility. Plus, according to a 2017 study, even if you exercise regularly, not moving for excessively long periods of time can increase your risk for early death.
Unfortunately, sitting is inevitable. But finding time in your work day for a few simple yoga movements can make a huge difference in your physical and mental health and improve your flexibility.
In fact, there are certain movements you can practice while sitting in a chair to improve your posture and overall well-being. No more excuses, because yes, you can do yoga at your desk!
You can do the following movements while sitting at a desk or on the couch to dramatically enhance the quality of your sitting position, your flexibility, and how you feel physically and mentally throughout the day.
Be sure to sit up straight in a chair and try to maintain length in your spine (sit tall) throughout all of the movements.
Bring your chin towards your chest, but keep your shoulders rolling back. Slowly start to roll the right ear towards the right shoulder, then chin back to chest. Then roll the left ear towards the left shoulder, then the chin back to the chest. Repeat this movement, going at your own pace, and focus on releasing tension around your neck and shoulders.
Inhale to lift your shoulders forward and up towards the ears. As you exhale, pull the shoulders back and down. Repeat a few times, and then switch directions (lifting the shoulders back and up with the inhale). Go at your own pace, and try to get a full range of motion with your shoulders.
Lengthen your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Squeeze your hands into two tight fists. Without moving the shoulders or elbows, circle the fists to stimulate blood flow in the wrist muscles. Circle ten times clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
Seated Side Bends:
Open your legs about hip-width or slightly wider, and sit as tall as you can. Stretch both arms up towards the ceiling, and interlace your fingers. Flip the hands to press the palms upward towards the ceiling while keeping the shoulders down the back. Keep your spine long and press both hips evenly on the chair, then lean over to the right. Hold for five long breaths, then come back up to center and repeat on the left side.
Sit in your chair with your legs together and feet flat on the floor. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee or thigh, and your right hand behind you on the seat or back of the chair. Inhale to sit as tall as you can, and exhale to twist the chest towards the right. Inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale to twist a little further, if you’d like. Stay for at least five breaths, then slowly release and repeat on the left side.
Seated Cat/Cow Poses:
Have your legs about hip distance apart with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your thighs, and keep your shoulders relaxed down your back. With a long inhale, arch your back to bring the chest forward and up towards the ceiling. Hold the core in to protect your lower back. With your slow exhale, bring your navel in and round your back. Stretch the back of your neck by bringing your chin in towards the chest. Repeat these two movements with your inhales and exhales three to ten times.
Try to do these exercises at least three times a week while sitting, or whenever you’re feeling a little stiff. Maybe you’ll inspire your coworkers to join in too!