Working long hours at a desk, commuting for longer than necessary through traffic, and binge watching 13 episodes of the latest new show on Netflix are just a few common examples of how so many of us get sucked into sedentary behavior these days, even if we put in the effort to make it to yoga class or the gym several times a week.
Research has shown us that any type of lifestyle that involves minimal movement throughout the day is bad for our health, and working out intensely for an hour or so can’t even offset the damage of sitting on our butts for the rest of the day. So what are we to do when we can’t quit our office jobs, our long commutes, or our Netflix subscriptions?
Well, we can get up once in a while and move. (Maybe not while in the car or on a packed subway, but you get the idea.) In fact, the following yoga poses can give our stiff, tense bodies just what they need.
If you only have the time and energy for one yoga pose, make it downward dog to lengthen and strengthen all the major muscles in both the upper and lower body. This is one pose where the wrists get a bit of stretch too, which is beneficial if you write or type a lot. The position of the head also promotes blood flow to the brain, which may help eliminate brain fog or sluggishness.
Standing Forward Bend
Standing forward bend is ideal for relieving stress and anxiety, and it’s easier/less awkward to do than downward dog if you work in a corporate environment. Both your shoulders and legs will get a good stretch, and you can let your arms hang and dangle to help release tension. Like downward dog, this pose also encourages more blood to flow through to the brain.
Sitting for long periods can cause the hips to get tighten, and half pigeon is an ideal pose for opening them up and increasing flexibility. It also lengthens out the hip flexor that connects the torso and legs, which often gets shortened from sitting often for long periods.
When we spend too much time sitting, our gluteal muscles tend to weaken, which can lead to a whole host of other unpleasant problems in the lower body. Bridge lifts are perfect for strengthening this area. If you can, try to do 10 to 20 reps while focusing on really squeezing the buttocks at the top.
Do you have a bad habit of slouching or sitting hunched over? If you do, try cobra pose to open up your chest and lengthen out your spine at the same time. This one is great for decreasing stiffness in the lower back and is even known to offer a bit of a mood boost too.
After you come out of cobra pose (or any of the above poses for that matter), you can relax into child’s pose to release any lingering tension in the back, shoulders or chest. You’ll feel a whole lot better, both mentally and physically, and you won’t feel so guilty for sitting for so long.