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. Seated Twist
This simple yoga pose can bring flexibility to your spine and back. It also stretches out your shoulders to reduce shoulder pain.
Plus, it opens the chest and increases the oxygen supply to the lungs. Seated Twist is also great for digestion.
- Sit in your chair, keeping your spine tall and straight and your feet together.
- Inhale and on the exhale, twist to one side from the bottom of your spine.
- You can use the hand on your other side to deepen the twist.
- 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.
Caution: This yoga pose is not recommended for those with knee or lower back maladies.
2. 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.
It stretches the calves, shoulders, chest and spine, as well as improves coordination and sense of balance. It also reduces stress and improves digestion.
Doing this yoga pose for 5 to 10 minutes can help you return to your seat with more energy than before.
- Sit in your chair comfortably, keeping your back straight.
- With an exhale, lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers out wide.
- Inhale and lean to the right.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Return to the original position.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Do this for 10 cycles, alternating sides.
3. Chair Pigeon Pose
This is a wonderful pose if you have tight hips due to sitting for long hours in the same position. It also creates a balance between the hips and lower spine.
- Sit in your chair, without leaning against the back of the chair.
- Bring your right leg over the left, keep the foot flexed.
- Keep your ankles directly below your knees.
- Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Do the same with the other leg.
Once you are comfortable with this pose, you may forward bend to intensify the stretch if you like.
4. 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.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- From the standing position, inhale and slowly sit straight back down without leaning forward.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
5. Seated Forward Bend
This exercise stretches the hamstrings as well as stretches and lengthens the spine. 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 up straight in your chair and inhale deeply.
- Exhale and fold your body forward, bringing your head toward your knees and keeping your neck relaxed.
- If possible, wrap your arms under the back of your knees or else let them hang at your sides.
- Relax and take a few deep breaths.
- Repeat 8 to 10 times.
6. 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 out the muscles of the upper back, upper arms, chest, and hips.
- Sit up straight in your chair.
- Bring your right arm behind your back.
- Bring your left arm behind your head.
- Clasp your fingers together and hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
- Switch arms and repeat.
For a deeper stretch, exhale and bend forward, then inhale while returning back to an upright position.