You Can Do These 7 Easy Yoga Poses Without Leaving Your Chair
You know you need to sit less and move more. But what if, at the very least, you could move while you're sitting? It's a wise idea. "When you stretch or move frequently throughout the day, you decrease strain on your muscles and skeletal system," says Samantha Parker, yoga, kinesiophobia cognitive and movement specialist in Washington, D.C. In the long run, that can decrease the likelihood you'll develop chronic low back and shoulder pain, knee discomfort, headaches, and more.
One way to move more without even leaving your chair is by doing yoga. While these poses are usually performed on a mat, some yoga stretches and poses can also be modified to be done in a chair (or with a chair). This is perfect for when you're stuck at a desk all day or just need a quick stretch without getting out the yoga mat. The surprise? You'll get many of the same benefits sitting in a chair doing yoga as you would if you were on your mat. "Sitting in a chair will target the muscles in a different way than standing," Parker says. Plus, you'll decrease the likelihood that your body will begin to ache from sitting in one position for extended periods of time.
Here, Parker has created a seven-pose series that requires only a chair. Whether you're sitting in an office or your house, do these frequently throughout the day, perhaps every hour, if possible. Hold each pose for a few seconds before moving on.
Extended Mountain Pose
Sit on the edge of a chair with feet flat on the floor (about the distance of the chair legs) and toes pointed out slightly. Take a deep breath as you reach your arms overhead, keeping shoulders away from your ears. Feel a stretch through the front of your body. If you'd like, lift your arms toward the right so you feel a stretch on the left side of your body. Return to center and switch sides. Release to start.
Sitting on a chair with your spine straight and feet flat on the floor, hinge forward from the hips and let your torso fold between your legs. When you can no longer hinge any further, round your spine and drop your head toward the floor. Slowly roll up to seated and repeat as many times as you'd like.
Sit tall with your hands on your knees or the arms of the chair. Move into cat position by dropping your chin toward your chest and rounding your back like a Halloween cat. Then draw your shoulders back and open up and forward through the chest as you move into cow position, arching your back and letting your pelvis tilt forward. Repeat two more times.
Sit tall in a chair and extend straight arms up, inhaling as you go. As you exhale, twist your torso to the left and place your right hand on your left knee. Reach your left arm behind you, placing it on the back of the chair. Breathe in deeply, getting longer through the spine, and as you exhale, see if you can increase the twist more (gently). Return to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Sitting with your feet flat on the floor, extend your left leg in front of you, heel on floor with toes pointed up toward you. Keep your spine long as you hinge at the hips, as if you're reaching your collar bones toward your toes. Breathe in deeply, and as you exhale, see if you can hinge forward a little more to increase the stretching sensation in your hamstring. Release and repeat on the other side.
Sit to the front of the chair and turn your body to the left so your left glute is on the chair and your left foot is on the floor pointing left, knee over ankle. Extend your right leg behind you. Let the right hip and thigh relax as you ease into the pose, feeling a stretch through the right hip. Release and switch sides.
Start by sitting with both feet flat on the floor. Lift your right foot off the floor and place your right ankle or calf on your left thigh. Sitting tall, exhale and hinge at the hips until you feel a deep stretch in the right glute and lower back. Hold here for a few breaths, hinging forward slightly more with each exhale. Release to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.