Shops are opening, sidewalks are filling, restaurants, stadiums, and concert halls are buzzing again. As exciting as it is to see our world coming back to life, the reality is that many of us still work from homes or offices where we are sitting in a chair, at a desk, for extended periods of time. Prolonged sitting, wherever it may be, can have a major impact on our physical bodies and our mental health. According to this study from Harvard Medical School, “habitual inactivity raises risks for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome.”
While it sounds lovely to say you’ll go for a walk or workout every day, LET’S GET REAL! Life is busy and sometimes, it’s simply not possible to leave the house or office for a movement session. To help us combat the physical and mental effects of habitual inactivity, I have created a simple series of chair yoga postures that you can do from home, the office or even, the subway!
You can perform each posture as a singular, static movement and hold for 10-20 breaths OR you can follow the “Flow it” option to make each posture move like a miniature dance. You can do one posture on its own or all five in sequence. Let these movements serve YOU.
Before we begin:
Grab a chair and sit with your feet planted to the earth. Close your eyes.
Take 3 slow, deep breaths.
Parsva Sukhasana - Seated Side Bend Easy Pose
Extend your arms overhead. Keep your hips rooted to the chair and reach upward as much as possible. Place your right hand on the edge of your chair and bend your torso to the right side. Keep your left arm extended over your ear. Look upward and breathe. Repeat on the other side.
Flow it: Inhale, reach upward in the center. Exhale, bend to one side. Inhale, reach upward in the center. Exhale, bend to the other side. Repeat as many times as you’d like.
Virabhadrasana II - Warrior 2
Begin seated at the center of your chair. Slide one leg open to the side. Keep your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing to the side of your space. Extend the other leg straight in the opposite direction for a warrior 2 position. Focus your gaze on a single point and stay. Move mindfully to the other side when you are ready.
Flow it: Begin in your warrior 2 position. Inhale, flip your front palm up and reach your arm upward. Let your backhand rest on your back leg for a peaceful warrior. Exhale, bring your front elbow to your thigh, and extend your opposite arm overhead for a side angle pose. Flow from peaceful warrior to side angle 3-5 times.
Uttana Shishosana - Extended Puppy Pose
Slide your chair toward the wall or desk and make sure you’re about arm’s distance away from the surface. Sit in your chair and place your palms flat onto your surface, arms extended. Pull back through your hips and let your head hang heavy between your arms. For more intensity, walk your hands higher up the wall or pull your chair further back from your desk. Soften.
Flow it: Press your palms into the surface. Inhale, round your back like a cat. Starting from the base of your spine, exhale and ripple your back and then chest forward like a snake. Try to articulate through each vertebra of your spine. Continue this fluid, snake-like motion for 30 seconds.
Ardha Hanumanasana - Half Splits
Come to standing in front of your chair and place one foot squarely in the middle of your chair. You can hold the wall or desk for support. Pull your hips back and stretch your front leg. Don’t worry if the leg doesn’t straighten completely. Pause when you feel that first point of tension and breathe. Stand both feet on the ground before you transition to the other side.
Flow it: Begin with one foot planted on the chair. Inhale, press your hips forward like a lunge. Exhale, pull your hips back into a half split. Continue slowly until you feel your hips and hamstrings loosen up.
And last, but certainly not least...
Utkatasana - CHAIR POSE!
Sit toward the front edge of your chair. Reach your arms long by your ears. Squeeze your ankles, knees, and thighs tight together. Pull back through your lower abdomen and reach forward from the back of your ribs to your fingertips. Energize your breath and your body.
Flow it: For a fiery twist on this supported chair pose, lean forward until your hips are just hovering above the chair. Now, tap your hips down and back up 10 times (or more if you’re feeling spicy!)
End the same way you began. Sit comfortably in your chair. Plant your feet, close your eyes and breathe.
If you liked this blog, check out our other blogs like: "Sitting too Much? 5 Ways to Get Moving," "3 Poses for a Quick Reset," "8 Different Types of Yoga: Explained to Help you Choose," and "The Secret of Self-Care: Approach over Action."