The “Origami Stretch” Quickly Unfolds Your Cramped Muscles After Sitting All Day

Photo: Getty Images/Audrey Popov
After eight hours of sitting at a 90-degree angle at my desk, I always feel like I need to dust of the proverbial cobwebs in my aching muscles. Truth be told, I usually reach for the remote—not my yoga mat—when I arrive home from work. But adding one (just one!) stretch to my evening routine would majorly combat my hip pain from sitting all day, every day.

Introducing, the origami stretch (also known as "cat pulling its tail")—a yummy, yoga teacher favorite for unfolding (ha!) super-compressed muscles. Yes, you can do it lying down. Yes, you could theoretically nap in the position. And yes, it works wonders on every last muscle group that suffers from sitting 24/7. To move into the stretch, yoga teacher Lindsay Pirozzi of New York City’s Y7 studio says to first get horizontal on a mat, in bed, on a paddle board, or—you know—really anywhere.

How to use "cat pulling its tail" to combat hip pain from sitting

"When the shoulders settle comfortably onto the ground, inhale while subtly drawing your navel in and up, and hug your right knee into your chest," Pirozzi instructs. "As you exhale, guide your right knee across your body, to the opposite side. Allow the spine to gently rotate, placing your left hand on top of your right knee for support." From there, rest your right knee on the ground (make sure it aligns with the hip socket) and extend your right arm at shoulder height. Then, (this is optional, of course!) bend your left knee and grab your left foot with your right hand. You're basically a paper crane now, so that's cool.

If you can't safely keep both your right shoulder and your right knee on the floor at the same time in the pose, the yogi suggests tweaking it ever so slightly to accommodate your body. "To modify you can place a block under the twisting knee, or gather both knees into the chest at the same time," she says.  Whatever your variation, hold for 10 breaths on each side.

"It’s honestly a heaven-sent pose to access and unlock a lot in one shape."

Bodies accustomed to living that #desklife will pretty much eat this pose up, according to the instructor. "Supine spinal twists benefit the outer hips, glutes, shoulders, and the entire spine," she says. "Internally, it's a gentle massage for the elimination organs to aid in digestion."  In case you weren't already convinced to spring onto your bed and move into this pose, like, right now, she adds: "It’s honestly a heaven-sent pose to access and unlock a lot in one shape."

*This* muscle group suffers the most from the 40-hour work week, but you can combat soreness by sitting correctly in your rolly chair.

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