Grab a Chair: Sitting Yoga Poses Are No Joke

Photo: Getty/Nolwen Cifuentes
Yoga can be quite a workout, especially when you go one-by-one through sweaty vinyasa after sweaty vinyasa. But just because you’re not standing up doesn’t mean you’re not doing your brain and body good. “Seated poses make it easier to get the great benefits of yoga at any point in your day,” says Jessica Matthews, PhD, assistant professor of integrative wellness at Point Loma Nazarene University and the author of Stretching to Stay Young.

And it can be especially nice if you work a desk job where you spend the majority of your day hunched over typing (or, ahem, texting or Tweeting). Taking a couple-minute break for seated yoga works flexibility (which so many of us are lacking) and improves posture, says Matthews. What’s more, seated poses “are ideal for practicing in the middle of the day when you’re short on energy or focus. Some poses are mentally re-energizing,” she says. Think of them like a coffee break—minus the caffeine jitters.

On the other hand, certain seated yoga poses can be quieting for the mind, says Jessica Bellofatto, director of JB Yoga, a holistic lifestyle and retreat company. “More often than not, what people need is the more meditative aspects of yoga. Seated and supine poses lower your center of gravity to help ground you,” she says. These can be done anytime, but may help relax you at night and keep your brain from spinning for better sleep ahead.

Now that you’re ready to take a yoga break, we’re here with eight superstar seated yoga poses. Get ready to feel all the feels: refreshed, limber, and less tense. While some of these can be done in your chair (even without anyone really noticing), others you’re going to want to try alone, in case you’re worried about the side-eye from your coworkers.

Keep scrolling for the best sitting yoga poses to try for yourself.

Sitting Yoga poses
Photo: Getty/fizkes

Half lord of the fishes

Where: On the ground or in a chair.
Why: It’s basically a back massage. “The seated twist relieves tension in the spine,” says Matthews.
How: If you’re on the floor, sit with your legs outstretched in front of your body. Bend your right knee and step your right foot over your left thigh; the right foot should be planted on the floor outside of your left knee. Place the right hand behind the right hip and lift the left arm toward ceiling. Rotate your torso to the right and hug your right knees with your left arm.

Cat and cow

Where: On the ground or in a chair.
Why: “I love this dynamic stretch because it’s a nice movement break in your day and brings mobility to your upper back. This is a favorite of my corporate clients,” says Matthews.
How: On the floor, get on your hands and knees. Inhale, gently arching your back, lifting your chin toward the ceiling. Exhale, rounding the spine and bringing chin toward chest.

Extended puppy pose

Where: On the ground with a chair as a prop.
Why: Your shoulders and upper back are feeling a bit tense right? Us, too. This pose really stretches the lats, or the large muscle in your back, says Matthews. “Targeting this muscle group can help prevent shoulder pain and discomfort,” she says.
How: Kneel on the ground on a pillow or blanket for comfort. Hinge forward and place your forearms on top of the seat of a chair in front of you.

Seated Bound Angle

Where: On the ground.
Why: It opens the hips and pelvis and lengthens the spine.
How: Sit on the floor, bend knees. Open knees out to the sides so that the soles of your feet are touching.

Seated Spinal Twist

Where: On the ground.
Why: It twists and neutralizes the spine, says Bellofatto.
How: Sit on the floor, legs extended. Cross right leg over the left, placing the foot flat on the ground. Twist to your right, and repeat on the left side. You can also repeat the Half Lord of the Fishes pose, as well.

Cow Face Pose

Where: On the ground.
Why: “It targets the IT band, making it a good stretch for runners and cyclists,” says Bellofatto.
How: Sit on the floor, cross your legs, and stack the right knee over the left. Feet should be placed near the outside of your hips. Lift the right arm toward the ceiling, place the left hand behind your back, and grasp your fingertips, if possible.

Seated Forward Bend

Where: On the ground or in a chair.
Why: This is all about self-reflection. It also helps quiet an overactive mind, says Bellofatto.
How: Sit with both legs extended and position a block, blanket, or pillow under your hips. Bend forward, keeping your head down.

These are some other yoga poses that will help to balance out your body, and if you're looking to roll out a high-vibe yoga mat, you're in luck.

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