Sitting all day? Feeling like you have fused with your desk chair or your couch? Sitting all day can cause a lots of not-so-fun physical and mental issues. Back and hip pain are just one example. So, here are 3 Yoga Poses for the hips and lower back to counter the effects of sitting all day.
What are the health risks of sitting all day?
When we sit for prolonged periods of time, what happens? Here are the effects of sitting all day on the body and the mind:
- Prolonged sitting shortens the hip flexor muscles (the ones at the front of hip, at the top of the front thigh)
- It also weakens the muscles of the legs and torso
- Can lead to postural and spine misalignment, because let’s face it, it’s hard to stay seated nice and tall all day
- May also lead to stiffness in the shoulders and neck, especially if we’re leaning over a screen or desk
- Also causes poor circulation in the lower body. This means blood and lymph end up stagnating in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
Many studies also show that sitting for long periods in a chair increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular problems and weight gain. Prolonged sitting may also lead to greater risks of developing depression, dementia or cancer… Wow. And this is true for other types of prolonged sitting, like driving.
(yikes that’s a lot! So let’s pause and stand up for a few moments.
OK we can sit down again – if we dare!)
Today we’ll focus on what happens to the hips and lower back when we sit all the time. And more importantly, let’s see what yoga poses you can do to help balance the effects of prolonged sitting!
Sitting all day? Do these 3 yoga poses:
A little goes a long way! Doing these 3 yoga poses at break times can really make a difference.
1- Yoga to counter sitting all day: Anjaneyasana, Crescent Pose
Sitting in a chair for long periods of time shortens the hip flexors, especially the iliopsoas. The hip flexors are the muscles at the front top of the thigh.
Think about it: when we are standing, the angle between the thighs and the torso is 180 degrees (a straight line). But when we are sitting, this angle is about 90 degrees! Talk about a lot less… No wonder sitting shortens the hip flexors over time!
How can yoga help?
Practice: Anjaneyasana, Crescent Pose:
Benefits of Crescent Pose, Anjaneyasana:
- Stretches the hip flexors and quadriceps (thigh muscles),
- Stabilizes the torso,
- Strengthens the muscles of the torso and legs.
For more core and leg strengthening, you can also do Crescent Pose with your knee off the floor:
2- Counter sitting all day with Prasarita Padottanana or Wide Leg Forward Fold
Sitting all day in a chair very often affects posture. Yes, keeping your back and neck long and the curves of your spine aligned for hours is no easy feat! Add craning our necks or leaning over a laptop (or a phone), and what do we get? A posture that’s out of whack and (with time) pain in the neck, shoulders and back.
How can yoga help?
Practice: Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide Leg Forward Fold:
Benefits of Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide Leg Forward Fold:
- Stretches the back and helps decompress the lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck)
- Stretches the hamstrings (the muscles at the back of the legs)
- Helps calm the mind and change perspective! That makes Prasarita Padottanasana a perfect pose for a short mental break too!
3- Yoga to counter sitting all day: Baddha Konasana, Cobbler’s Pose or Butterfly Pose
Spending extended periods sitting in a chair often creates tension and poor circulation in the pelvis and hips. This is even more acute if your chair seat is too hard, leans back or is shallow.
How can yoga relax the hips and improve blood circulation in the pelvis?
Practice: Baddha Konasana, Cobbler’s Pose or Butterfly Pose:
The benefits of Baddha Konasana, Butterfly or Cobbler’s Pose:
- Stretches the hips,
- Stretches the adductors (the muscles on the inside of the legs)
- Relaxes the pelvic floor
- Increases blood circulation in the pelvis
For more intense hip stretching, here is Baby Grasshopper Pose and Grasshopper Pose!
And so there you have it! Three simple yoga poses that pack a punch to counter the effect of sitting all day! Also remember that simply standing and moving regularly throughout the day will make a huge difference. You don’t need to run a half marathon between each report and meeting. Just move a little, every 20-30 minutes. Get up, stretch, breathe and do these 3 yoga postures!
That’s it for me! I’m standing up now. What about you?
Here’s another mini yoga sequence to do over break time : 3 yoga poses for Energy!
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