While pandemic times initially gave many people more space mentally and emotionally to move their bodies, stretch, and participate in self-care, those times are slowly going away. You may find yourself back in the office or not having the opportunities to move while working from home that you did before.
Or maybe sitting for a large portion of the day has been your norm all along.
Research has shown that consistently sitting for long periods of time correlates with a number of health concerns. Sitting increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity.
The good news? Yoga exercises for people who sit all day specifically combat those health concerns! Yoga while sitting is also a thing and still provides mental, emotional, and physical benefits.
While we’ll divulge some of the best yoga poses for people who sit a lot here, MyYogaTeacher offers whole classes, group and 1-on-1, for people who have limited time for self-care and/or are sedentary for large portions of their day.
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Check out these 5 yoga poses to stretch out when you have to sit all day!
Many of us are tethered to technology all day. Whether it’s for your job or for recreation, your wrists, hands, and forearms will suffer the effects of being at your computer or laptop for significant periods of time. But so will your back and hips!
How to: Get on your hands and knees and turn your hands so that your palms face up and your fingertips point back toward your knees. Your wrists should be aligned beneath your shoulders and your hips are over your knees. If that feels too intense on your wrists, shift your weight back a little more into your knees so that the angle at your wrists is less sharp. If it feels good to do so, practice cat and cow to stretch out your back and hips. Remain here for 5–10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog pose stretches out your calves and hamstrings after sitting all day, but it also builds strength in your upper back and arms, two areas that lose strength and mobility due to long periods of sitting. This inversion pose also increases circulation.
How to: From hands and knees, curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back to Downward-Facing Dog. Start with a slight bend in your knees and focus on lengthening your back instead of the backs of your legs. Evenly distribute your weight between your hands. When you’re ready, draw your ribs in toward your back and lift your sitting bones toward the sky. Keeping your knees slightly bent, press your thighs back toward the wall behind you. Spread your toes and evenly distribute your weight between your hands and feet. Drop your head so that your upper arms line up with your ears. Breathe steadily into the entire length of your back body for 5–10 breaths.
(image courtesy of Shape Magazine)
Continuous tightness in your hip flexor muscles from prolonged sitting leads to hip and joint pain as well as lower back pain. Low lunge reduces pain in your hips and lower back from sitting a lot. Low lunge also allows you the ability to do various yoga arm variations like the one pictured above, which stretches out your chest and back muscles.
How to: From Downward-Facing Dog pose, step your right or left foot forward between your hands, whichever comes most naturally to you. Be sure to slide your foot forward enough so your ankle lines up beneath your knee. Lower your opposite knee down and untuck your toes. Take a deep breath in and sweep your arms overhead. If you’re comfortable or able, let your arms fall alongside your body as you breathe out. If you’d like an even deeper stretch in your chest and back, interlace your fingers behind your back with your left thumb on top. When you switch sides move back into Downward Facing Dog first and also switch which thumb is on top. Stay in this pose for 5-10 breaths on each side.
(image courtesy of ekhartyoga)
Yoga squats are great for people who sit for long periods of time! Adding a twist will counter the bad posture that often accompanies sitting at a desk or over a computer. This combination stretches the outer hip flexor muscles and initiates spinal rotation and shoulder retraction which combats the effects of sitting at a desk or computer.
How to: From Downward-Facing Dog, softly walk your feet up to your hands. Separate your feet mat width distance apart or slightly more if comfortable and point your toes outwards. Breathe in deeply and lengthen your spine forward. As you exhale, lower your sit bones into a squat position. You can place a block or two stacked blocks underneath your sitting bones for support. Angle your feet out further if you find it hard to keep your heels on the ground.
Place a block in front of your right foot and take your right hand to the block. Breathe in and raise your left arm up and out to the left. Breathe out and slide your left forearm behind your back any amount. Hold each side for 5-10 breaths.
Seated or Standing Forward Bends are excellent poses for people who sit a lot. For now, though, we’re going to discuss seated forward bends because they require you to engage your back and body muscles as you extend forward, which counters the hunched over position many have when they’re sitting.
How to: Sit on your mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. If this is uncomfortable, you may bend your knees slightly or sit on a block or folded blanket. Breathe in and stretch your arms overhead. As you exhale, fold forward and reach your feet or shins. Keep the focus on lengthening your back body, not rounding your back in order to get deeper. Press your sit bones back and your thighs downwards. Relax your face and let your shoulders rest on your back body as you breathe for 5–10 cycles. Inhale and slowly rise.
These yoga poses certainly help combat the effects of prolonged sitting on your physical body, but they also give you a chance to clear your mind, relax, and restore mentally and emotionally. Even just a few minutes of yoga throughout your day provides benefits that you will notice!
Looking to take advantage of even more benefits of yoga for people who sit a lot?
With MYT’s 1:1 Membership Plans, you get private, personalized sessions with your favorite yoga teachers, unlimited group classes (over 35 different ones), and recordings of your 1:1 sessions and group classes!
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