BLOG 229: THE 6 SEATED YOGA EXERCISES TO DO AT YOUR DESK DAILY
Aug 21, 2023In today’s fast-paced digital age, more and more of us find ourselves confined to a desk for hours on end. This sedentary lifestyle, while necessary for many professions, often leads to a host of physical and mental health issues, from back pain to increased stress.
But what if there was a way to bring a sense of balance and relief to these long hours? Enter the realm of seated yoga and something which I love doing!
Seated yoga exercises provide an easy, efficient way to reduce stress, improve posture, and boost overall health—all without having to leave your chair.
BENEFITS OF SEATED YOGA
Yoga, an ancient practice rooted in India, has been celebrated for centuries for its holistic approach to well-being. It is something which I have been practicing for 20 years and teaching for 18. When you do this either on a mat or on a chair, there are so many amazing benefits. Here are some of the specific benefits of chair Yoga:
Reducing Tension and Stress: Continuous sitting and focusing on screens can accumulate tension in various parts of our body, especially the neck, shoulders, and back. Seated yoga acts as a mini-break, allowing muscles to relax and the mind to reset, thereby alleviating stress.
Improving Posture and Spinal Health: Maintaining the same posture for prolonged periods can lead to misalignment and back problems. Chair yoga exercises help in correcting our posture by stretching and strengthening the spinal muscles.
Boosting Motivation and Productivity: A short break for yoga can recharge your mind. The deep breathing and gentle movements can increase blood circulation and oxygenate the brain, leading to heightened alertness and improved focus.
Calming the Central Nervous System: The deep breathing associated with yoga exercises activates the body’s parasympathetic system—responsible for relaxation and recovery. This helps in calming the nerves and promoting a sense of well-being.
Strengthening and Toning the Core: Though seated, these exercises can engage the core muscles, leading to a stronger midsection over time.
Enhancing Facial Toning and Fresh Blood Flow to the Head: The head movements in seated yoga promote blood circulation in the facial region. This not only rejuvenates the skin but can also aid in facial toning.
THE 6 SEATED YOGA EXERCISES
Here are some of my favourite 6 exercises. You can also follow these on my YouTube video.
1. NECK STRETCHES
Sitting for extended periods, especially in front of a computer, often results in a stiff and tense neck. Our neck supports the weight of our head and is instrumental in a myriad of daily movements. Over time, neglecting its well-being can lead to chronic discomfort and reduced mobility. Thus, neck stretches are not just a temporary relief but a vital aspect of maintaining neck health, ensuring flexibility and reducing the chances of injury.
Neck Stretches Method:
Begin by sitting upright in your chair, ensuring your feet are flat on the ground.
Slowly lower your chin towards your chest.
Gradually move your chin across your chest, transitioning from one side to the other.
For those comfortable, you can also perform full neck circles. However, it’s essential to note that this might not be suitable for everyone, especially those with neck injuries.
Neck Stretches Benefits:
Our necks are pivotal for a variety of daily tasks. Regular neck stretches not only enhance the range of motion, enabling smoother and more comfortable head movements, but also help alleviate chronic neck pain by releasing tension and reducing muscle tightness. Moreover, the neck often harbours emotional stress. By focusing on stretching this area, we can achieve a sense of emotional release, fostering a calmer mind.
2. SHOULDER ROLLS
Our shoulders bear the brunt of our daily stresses. Whether it’s from carrying heavy bags or the subconscious raising of them during tense moments, our shoulders often become the repository of tension. Over time, this can lead to stiffness, reduced mobility, and even chronic pain. Regular shoulder rolls help alleviate this built-up tension, promoting blood circulation and restoring a natural and relaxed position for the shoulders.
Shoulder Rolls Method:
Begin with your arms by your side.
Slowly roll your shoulders in an upward and backward circular motion.
You can also reverse the direction, moving the shoulders in a forward circle.
Shoulder Rolls Benefits:
Shoulder rolls serve as an essential exercise to break the cycle of built-up tension, ensuring our shoulders remain relaxed and agile. The regular rolling motion reinforces proper shoulder positioning, which in turn promotes a straighter, healthier posture. Furthermore, the act of moving our shoulders encourages circulation, providing vital nutrients to the muscles.
3. NECK TURNS
Much like the neck stretches, neck turns aim to restore mobility and ease to an area of our body that is constantly in use. As we turn to talk to someone, check our blind spots while driving, or simply look around, our neck is always working. Regularly turning and stretching in a controlled manner ensures that we maintain its health and mobility.
Neck Turns Method:
While maintaining an upright position, turn your head gently to one side, looking over your shoulder.
Hold for a few breaths, then switch to the other side.
Focus on the stretch and take note of how your neck feels during the movement.
Neck Turns Benefits:
Regular neck turns are beneficial in ensuring both sides of our neck receive equal attention, promoting balance and counteracting imbalances caused by having a dominant side. Such consistent movements also prevent strain caused by sudden motions or overextension. Importantly, these turns make us more conscious of our neck’s position and alignment, aiding in tasks such as driving.
4. SEATED SPINAL TWIST
Our spine is our body’s central support structure. Yet, prolonged sitting can compromise its natural curve, leading to discomfort and even chronic issues. The seated spinal twist is more than just a relief; it’s a preventive measure. It promotes spinal health, ensures better posture, and even aids in digestion by massaging internal organs.
Seated Spinal Twist Method:
Sit towards the edge of your chair with feet firmly on the ground.
Bring your opposite hand to the opposite thigh and place your other arm slightly behind your back.
Engage your core and slowly twist from the spine, looking over the shoulder.
Hold for a couple of breaths and switch sides.
Seated Spinal Twist Benefits:
The seated spinal twist offers a myriad of benefits, including improved digestion. By stimulating the abdominal organs, it aids digestion and promotes gut health. Beyond the physical, the twist ensures the spine remains flexible, reducing chances of injuries or chronic pain. A well-executed twist also serves as a release for pent-up emotional stress, providing a holistic sense of relief.
5. SEATED CAT-COW
The cat-cow stretch, though simple, is incredibly effective in promoting spinal flexibility and health. Furthermore, the rhythmic movement between the two positions, in sync with our breathing, offers a meditative quality, helping to calm our minds.
Seated Cat-Cow Method:
Place both hands flat on your thighs.
For the ‘Cow’ pose, push your chest out, tilting your neck back slightly, ensuring an arch in the spine.
Transitioning to the ‘Cat’ pose, pull your tummy in, curving your spine and allowing your shoulders to relax forward.
Continue moving between these two positions with your breath – inhaling for ‘Cow’ and exhaling for ‘Cat’.
Seated Cat-Cow Benefits:
The seated cat-cow movement, while seemingly simple, actively engages the core, strengthening it over time. Its rhythmic nature, coupled with intentional deep breathing, fosters mindfulness and relaxation, providing a mental respite. Furthermore, regular practice of this stretch can help mitigate lower back pain and overall discomfort.
6. OVERHEAD STRETCH AND TWIST
Our upper body, particularly our arms and chest, can feel restricted after long periods of inactivity. This stretch not only revitalizes our upper body but also promotes better posture and circulation. Regularly engaging in this movement can help reduce the stiffness we feel after long hours at our desks and can even improve our lung capacity through deep, controlled breathing.
Overhead Stretch and Twist Method:
Sit upright and raise both arms overhead, fingers interlocked and palms facing up.
Stretch up, elongating the spine, and then gently twist your upper body from side to side.
After a few twists, bring the arms down, squeezing the shoulder blades together and moving the head gently from side to side.
Overhead Stretch and Twist Benefits:
Stretching overhead, especially when combined with deep breathing, has the potential to enhance lung capacity and overall function. This movement revitalizes the chest, arms, and shoulders, significantly reducing sensations of tightness and discomfort. Not to mention, the upward motion combined with a twist can be invigorating, serving as a quick pick-me-up during sluggish moments.
EMBRACE YOUR DAILY STRETCH
Incorporating these seated yoga exercises into your daily routine doesn’t require immense flexibility or any special equipment. It is easy to do, quick and instantly calming. Have a try today using this video.