Like many people, you may have a job that involves sitting for long hours.
According to a 2015 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the average person’s waking hours are spent sitting, which can be due to watching television, working at a computer, commuting and so on. But prolonged sedentary time due to sitting is independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.
Too much sitting can contribute to discomfort and health issues, including neck and shoulder pain, obesity, musculoskeletal disorders, lower back pain and even carpal tunnel.
Long periods of sitting also increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. A sedentary lifestyle also increases anxiety and stress levels.
The worst part is that if you do not take steps to decrease your sitting time and move your body, you may end up with a health condition that you’ll have for the rest of your life.
To protect yourself from the health hazards of sitting for long hours at home or the office, start practicing yoga. Millions of people practice yoga daily and benefit from many different yoga poses.
Yoga can help relieve stress and heal both your body and mind. There are many simple yoga poses that can be performed right in your little office area or even while sitting in your chair. You can perform these poses 2 or 3 times a day.
Here are some of the most effective yoga poses that you can do at your desk or office.
1. Wrist and Finger Stretch
This exercise relieves tension in the forearms that may occur due to typing or writing at your desk for long hours. When done on a regular basis, it may help prevent carpal tunnel.
- Sit up straight in your chair.
- Extend your arms to the front, and move your wrists in circular motions in both an inward and outward direction.
- Spread your fingers and close your fists, repeating 5 to 10 times.
- Now, place your hands on your desk, palms facing up and fingers toward you.
- Put gentle pressure to counter stretch the wrists and the forearms.
- Finally, put both arms by your sides and give your wrists a good rapid shake.
2. Chair Cat and Cow
This is an excellent pose to stretch and strengthen the spine, massage the glands and organs in the abdomen, relieve stress and calm the mind.
- Sit at the front edge of the chair with a long spine and both the feet firmly on the floor with hip width apart. Knees are right above the ankles and toes are pointing front.
- Place your palms on your knees or thighs
- Inhale, come into cow by opening your chest and shoulders bringing the shoulders blades towards each other and down towards the hips. This creates an arch in the lower back. As you continue to inhale lift your head up towards the ceiling and back to create the lengthen in the head and neck.
- Exhale, start moving from the lower back taking your abdomen in, chest in , rounding the shoulders and finally bringing the chin towards the chest to come to cat pose.
- Repeat cat and cow 8 to 10 times.
- Come to a neutral spine with an inhalation and relax.
3. Chair Raised Hands Pose
This yoga pose improves your posture as well as stretches the side body. It also gives a nice stretch to the tense muscles in your back and shoulders.
- Sit in your chair, keeping your back straight.
- Inhale and bring your arms out to the sides and up toward the ceiling.
- Bring your palms together overhead and start looking up toward your thumbs.
- Allow your shoulder blades to slide down your back.
- Take your chest and abdomen in, so there is no pressure in the lower back.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths as you breath deeply.
- If there is tightness in the neck, you can look in front of you with the chin parallel to the floor.
- Release the pose with an exhalation.
4. Seated Crescent Moon Pose
Sitting for long hours in front of your computer can contribute to neck and shoulder discomfort. To reduce such discomforts, the Seated Crescent Moon Pose is very effective.
This pose gives a nice stretch to your neck, shoulders, back and obliques. Doing this yoga pose for few minutes can help you return to your seat with clear head and more focus than before.
- Sit in your chair comfortably, keeping your back straight.
- With an inhale, lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers out wide.
- Exhale and bend to the right creating length on both left side of the body. As you do this, try not to collapse the right side of the body. Press the left sit bone down so to create length from the left sit bone all the way up to the left finger tips.
- Inhale come back to center.
- Exhale and bend to the left side to stretch the right side of the body. Press the right sit bone down to create the length from the right sit bone all the way up to the right finger tips.
- Inhale, come back to center.
- Do this for 10 cycles, alternating sides.
5. Sit and Stand Chair Pose
This pose helps awaken the underused glutes and hamstrings due to sitting for long hours. It is also good for building stamina and toning abdominal muscles and the back.
- Sit in your chair, with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.
- Inhale and press down from your heels to make your way up to a standing position without using your hands.
- From the standing position, exhale and slowly sit straight back down without leaning forward.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
6. Seated Forward Bend
This exercise is an excellent hip opener and also stretches the lower back and inner thighs. This pose helps release tension in the back, neck and head. It also opens up tight shoulders and improves the flexibility of your upper body.
You need a little room to perform the Seated Forward Bend, so push your chair straight out from your desk.
- Sit near the front edge of the mat.
- Separate your feet wide enough so you have space to bend forward.
- Position your knees directly over your ankles.
- You can place your palms either on your knees or hold the chair.
- Inhale and lengthen the spine.
- Exhale and fold your body forward from the hips, bringing your head toward the floor and bring your palms down on to the floor between the feet.
- You can press your palms into the floor with elbows straight creating the length in the upper body or press the elbows into the inner thighs to stretch the inner leg muscles.
- Stay for a minute or two.
- Come out of the pose with an inhalation.
7. Chair Pigeon Pose
Crossing your legs while seated creates imbalance in the hips and lower spine. This pose creates balance between the hips and lower spine. This is a wonderful pose if you have tight hips due to sitting for long hours in the same position. It stretches the hamstrings and also piriformis muscle which gets inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve causing pain.
- Sit at the front end of the chair with tall spine.
- Feet are hip width apart and ankles are right under the knees with toes pointing forward.
- Bring your right ankle over the left thigh just above the knee, keep the foot flexed.
- If you have knee problems and can’t bring the ankle all the way over the thigh, you can stretch the left leg.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Do the same with the other leg.
Once you are comfortable with this pose, you may bend forward from the hips leading with your chest to intensify the stretch .
8. Hamstring Stretch
This simple exercise improves flexibility and releases tension in the legs that happens due to sitting for long hours.
- Arrange two chairs face to face.
- Sit up straight on the end of one chair.
- Put your right heel on the other chair.
- With an inhale, lift both the arms up towards the ceiling and exhale bending from the hips fold forward. Imagine going forward than down. Grab your toes, ankle or where ever you can reach without pulling your shoulders.
- Keep the right knee bent if there is pulling on the back of the knee.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Repeat the process with the other side.
9. Cow Face Arms
This yoga pose improves your posture and releases tension in the shoulders that comes from sitting all day long.
It also improves core strength and stretches the muscles of the upper back, upper arms, chest, and hips.
- Sit up straight in your chair with knees and feet hip width apart, toes pointing front.
- Inhale stretch your right arm up and exhale bring the right palm between the shoulder blades, palm facing down. Right elbow should point up towards the ceiling.
- Inhale stretch your left palm out at the shoulder level with palm facing back. Exhale, take the arm around the back, palm facing up.
- Clasp your fingers together if you can or you can use a belt or scarf if you can’t reach the fingers.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Switch arms and repeat.
10. Seated Twist
This simple yoga pose can bring flexibility to your spine and back. It also stretches your upper body and shoulders to reduce shoulder pain. This pose massages the glands and organs in the abdomen, improves digestion, detoxifies the body and improves circulation in the abdominal region.
It also helps relieve stress, mild depression, back pain, and menstrual symptoms, and brings mental clarity.
Plus, it opens the chest and increases the oxygen supply to the lungs.
- Sit in your chair with your side body facing the back of the chair.
- Press both the sit bones down into the chair and bring your body to an upright position. Place your feet firmly on the ground with knees and feet as wide as hips. Make sure the toes are pointing forward.
- Inhale, maintain the length in the spine and on an exhale, twist to your right side from the bottom of your spine and bring your hands to the back of the chair.
- Relax both shoulders. Move the bottom of the right shoulder blade toward the spine and bottom of the left shoulder blade away from the spine so both the shoulders are in line.
- When you have rotated as far as you think you can, turn your head to look over your left shoulder.
- Take a few deep breaths, then return to the original position.
- Repeat the process with other side.
If possible, sit on the floor in a cross-legged position when doing this simple exercise.
Before going back to your work, give yourself a few minutes to relax. Remember, for every action, there is a reaction and yoga is not an exception.
Taking few minutes to focus on breathing can help reduce stress and prevent fatigue. Also, it will make you more energetic.
- Sit comfortably and cross your arms.
- Place your crossed arms on the surface in front of you.
- Rest your head on your crossed arms.
- Keep your eyes closed and concentrate on your breathing.
- Remain in this position for 10 minutes before going back to your work.
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