You may have heard the expression “sitting is the new smoking.”
That’s because too much sitting is associated with higher heart attack, metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes risk as well as earlier overall death. But for anyone with a desk job, sitting all day is hard to avoid.
There are some mitigating actions you can take. Frequent strolls throughout the day and using a standing or treadmill desk are good options for lessening the longterm damage of too much sitting. But in the short term, yoga is a great way to undo some of the daily aches and pains associated with logging those office hours at a desk.
Here are 6 yoga poses for anyone who sits at a desk all day:
1. Wrist Stretches
Typing all day can do a number on your wrists, so give them a break with this gentle stretch.
Start on all fours with your finger tips pointing forward, then rotate your right wrist so that it’s pointing forward and your fingertips are pointing back. Do the same thing with the left wrist, hold for a breath and then repeat. If you’re feeling really ambitious, incorporate cat-cow poses by dropping your belly and arching your back as you rotate your wrists.
2. Downward Dog
Sitting all day often leads to hunching all day, so open up your back — and your hamstrings, which strengthen your back — with downward dog.
Start on all fours, tuck your toes, lift your hips and bring your heels toward the ground. Hold for five breaths.
3. Pigeon Pose
The more we sit, the tighter our hips get, and pigeon pose is one the best hip openers out there.
Starting from downward dog, lift your right leg up to downward dog split, then swing it through so your shin is parallel with the front of your mat. Crawl your fingertips back, make sure your hips are squared off, then bring your palms forward and rest your forehead on the mat. If your hip is too high off the ground, try tucking a blanket or block underneath it. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the left side.
Take your hip stretch one step further by sitting upright and stacking one leg over the other, bringing your right ankle on top of your left knee. If your hips feel really open in this position, crawl your fingertips forward to deepen the stretch. Hold for three breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Knee-to-knee is another hip opener as well as a great iliotibial (IT) band stretch.
Start seated upright, then stack your right knee on top of your left one. Again, if you feel really open here, go ahead and crawl your fingertips forward to deepen the stretch. Hold for three breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
6. Thread The Needle
Hunching over all day can lead to shoulder tightness, so get more mobility in your shoulders with this shoulder opener.
Starting on all fours, thread your right arm underneath your left arm until your shoulder is resting on the ground and hold for three breaths. Make your way back to all fours and repeat on the opposite side.