You’ve heard it all before—a sedentary lifestyle can cause a myriad of health problems including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You may have also heard that regular, moderate exercise dramatically reduces your risk of these chronic diseases. However, your job, like the jobs of a huge number of Americans, may require long periods of sitting—and there isn’t much that can change that. With all that in mind, here’s a way to try and combat the harmful effects of sitting without leaving your desk at all. In this video, Health contributing expert Kristin McGee demonstrates 10 poses you can do in your office chair, so that even if you can’t get up, you can still stretch and strengthen your body.
Don’t have time to watch? Read the full transcript:
Hi, I'm Kristin McGee. Here are yoga moves you can do while you're seated at your desk or actually while you're seated anywhere. So often we are stuck in a seat all day long, and sitting is now the new smoking. So it's really important to try and incorporate some movement throughout your day. Let's get started.
Seated Cat Cow: This helps with low back pain. Sit toward the front edge of your seat and plant your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your upper thigh. Relax your shoulders. Arch your back and look up to the ceiling. Then round through your spine and hollow out. Repeat.
Now add a leg lift. Inhale and arch your back. As you exhale, round your back and lift your right knee. Then inhale, arch your back and lower your right knee and foot to the floor. Do the same on the other side. Engage the abs as you do this.
Next, lift your arms up overhead. Inhale. Press the palms together. Then bring your arms back down to your side and exhale. Link the breath and the movement.
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Twist: Turn to your left. Use your left hand on the back of the chair to deepen the twist and the opposite hand to the knee. Keep your knees and feet facing forward, so that they don’t buckle. Work through your waist and core. Twisting is great for digestion.
Fold over your legs, like a swan dive. Release your head and neck. Inhale to come back up.
Ankle to Knee: Now cross your ankle over your knee and lean forward for a hip opening stretch. If you have a desk in front of you, place the hands on the desk. And release. Repeat on the other side.
IT Band Stretch: Return to an upright, seated position and extend the leg for a hamstring stretch. Take hold of your calf, or if you are more advanced, hold your foot and start to draw the leg towards your body. You can also use a strap. Next, open the extended leg to the side to stretch the inner thigh. Finally, cross the leg in front of the body for an IT band stretch.
Eagle Pose: Extend your right arm in front of you making an “L” shape. Then wrap your left arm under and in front of your right, and bring your palms together in a prayer position. Lift your arms up and away from your face to ensure the proper alignment of the pose. This is great carpal tunnel syndrome. Repeat this sequence on the other side.
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High Altar Pose: Lift the arms over head. Interlace your fingers and turn the heels of the hands toward the sky, for a triceps press. Bend the elbows and then press them upward. Then lean to the side for a side bend. Anchor the opposite hip on the chair. Lengthen your lower back. Then come up to center and do the same thing to the other side.
Triceps Stretch: Come center, with arms raised above your head, and lengthen the upper back, arching backward. Keep the tailbone tucked under and the belly button pressed into the spine. Open the chest. Come center, then take your right arm overhead and pull with the left hand to stretch the triceps, rotator cuff, and shoulder stretch. To modify this, hold a towel between your hands. Then, do the same on the other side.
Next, take your arms behind you. Interlace the fingers. Again, arch your back and press your hands into the chair back to open the heart. Now take opposite elbow in opposite hand. This is a great stretch for posture. Eventually, you can bring your hands to prayer up the back. This is great for the wrists and for carpal tunnel.
Seated Warrior 2: This stretch opens up the thighs and the hip flexors. Lift your arms to the side or keep your hands on the hips. Then do it on the other side.
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Modified Goddess Pose: This opens up the hips. Straddle the chair in a wide stance, turn in your feet and bend forward.
Scale Pose: Place your hands on both sides of the chair and push down, to take on your body weight, and carefully lift your legs up, so you are balancing on the chair. This works the abs – you can do one leg at a time or both, depending on your core strength.