You may joke that your job is slowly killing you, but it might actually be true. Sitting is the new smoking, according toWired magazine. And indeed research links a highly sedentary lifestyle with a shorter life span and increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, among other serious health problems.
You could be an office worker, entrepreneur, blogger or writer, truck driver or even a chair tester. What we all have in common amongst us chair sitters is that we need a good old stretch every now and then. Your neck and back tend to be the problem areas, as well as getting tight hips and legs. Move more at work and release your inner yogi with these stretches to keep you limber and feeling good!
Spread your wings… or open up your hips in pigeon pose. This stretch is great for tight hips from long ours of sitting, as well as improving flexibility.
Start on your hands and knees in a table top position. Slide your right knee forward and left back. Aim for your front leg to be bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your chest forward and try to get your left hip closer to the ground. You can either sit up tall, or reach further forward if you’re flexible. Repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Twist Pose
This gentle twist tone the belly, massage your internal organs, and relieve lower back pain.
If you’re not accustomed to twisting, simple seated twist is the perfect beginning. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position. If it’s more comfortable, sit on a folded blanket to raise your hips.
Elongate your spine, and as you inhale, place your right hand flat on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right knee. On the exhale, move deeper into the twist while looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a holistic pose which is great for stretching and strengthening many muscles. It helps to reduce tension in the shoulders and neck, stretches out your legs and even wrists and hands (great after a day of typing). It also gets blood flowing to your brain. It’s just what you need after hours of sitting!
Start on your hands and knees. Lift your hips towards the ceiling – aiming for a V shape with your body. You want to focus on raising your hips upward, which you may have to bend your legs or lift your feet a little higher to achieve.
This series gently warms up and strengthens the spine, improving posture and balance and increases coordination which prepares the body for more advanced poses. It’s also a good stretch for the abdomen and hips. It massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands. It also relieves stress by calming the mind and creating an emotional balance.
Extend one arm forward and the opposite leg towards the back, keep the neck in line with the spine. Bend the top knee and bring the extended hand backwards to catch the foot or toes. Start to lift the knee and chest higher to create an arch like a bow.
Fish pose is an excellent tension reducer, and can also be therapeutic for fatigue and anxiety, according to Yoga Journal. To come into the pose, sit up on your hips with legs stretched out together in front of you and toes pointed. Bring your hands under your hips and lean back to prop yourself up on your forearms. Then, lift the chest above the shoulders and drop the head back to the ground behind you. Breathe deeply and rest in the pose for 15-30 seconds.
Fish pose releases tension in the neck, throat, and head, helps stretch the chest muscles and opens up the lungs.
Standing Forward Fold
A forward bend provides a soothing feeling of release — making the pose therapeutic for stress and anxiety — and with the added arm bind, this standing forward bend variation provides a deep shoulder stretch as well.
Stand with your feet at hips-width distance, and slowly bend forward from the hips to come into the forward bend. To take the strain off the lower back, bend the knees slightly. Then, try adding an arm bind to stretch the shoulders: Interlace your hands at the lower back and stretch the arms over your head and hands towards the ground in front of you. For those with tight shoulders, hold a belt between your hands, allowing the shoulders to get a deep but less intense stretch.
By binding the hands, you also allow the arms to stretch and tight shoulders to relax. After sitting all day, it’s a great idea to turn your world upside down and bring some blood back to the brain while getting a great stretch for the legs.
This pose is an accessible back bend for most people. It lengthens the spine, opens up the chest and counteracts sitting hunched over all day.
Lying on the floor, put your hands on the ground slightly in front of you and tuck the elbows into the chest. Push up into your hands, lifting into a slight back bend and drawing the shoulders down. Turn your gaze upwards, and try not to take any tension into the face or jaw.
Take some time from your busy work routine for yourself and let me know how it goes! Remember to only do what feels good, don’t push yourself too hard. Love life and live it!