Five to 6 simple yoga poses that ANY body could do from a seated position
Are you like Any and Every Body? Do you feel aches and pains after working at your computer or even on the phone? We tend to spend unsurmountable time with our devices as though they are a body part. Without realizing it, our bodies are stiffening, literally freezing in space and time, while our eyes are glued to the screen. When we rise out of our chair we wonder how neck, shoulder, and back pain and eye strain edged into our body.
Day after day, we hunch over a desk with our head gravitating forward without awareness of the impact on our posture. This tendency is understandable because the human head weighs an average of twelve pounds. When we lean in towards our computer screen, the weight multiplies as much as ten pounds for every inch. Five inches forward is like carrying the weight of a sixty-pound bowling ball on top of our vulnerable, precious neck!
It is no wonder that “forward head posture” is commonplace, but most people don’t realize that it can have a ripple down effect on our spines and into our shoulders and respiratory system. The good news is that our bodies are resilient, and muscles have amazing power to remember functional posture, often referred to as muscle memory. We can prevent and counter the impact of dysfunctional movement patterns with yoga poses that can increase awareness, improve posture, strength and flexibility, and prevent pain and weakness.
While I am an adaptive yoga therapist – specializing in yoga for those with MS and neuromuscular conditions, the yoga moves and poses offered below are beneficial for ANY Body – including people working from home, at a desk, and seemingly glued to a chair. You do not have to be an active yoga practitioner or have a flexible body to reap the benefits of these poses. Yoga and mindful movement with a chair can relieve tension from sitting for long periods of time, hunched over a computer screen.
Yoga helps us become attuned to how our body is feeling, our sense of proprioception or where it is in space, and what it needs to feel better. Just a few poses for a mini screen break can increase your flexibility, strength, focus, and mood. Self-care is not self-indulgent. It is a necessity, a way of showing kindness to yourself. Your mind and body will appreciate it.
Yoga Practices to Relieve Physical Tension and Emotional Stress
Below are few practices to break the monotony of sitting, relieve physical tension, and emotional stress of the moment. No matter whether you have one minute or more, there are ways to find relief and feel better. You may wish to set a timer or reminder on your phone to take a breath or movement break.
A mindful breath practice, with or without the movement and postures, will calm and refresh your nervous system. The breath is the foundation of yoga. When practicing the Yoga Moves described, focus on the sensation in your body together with your breath. Attuning to the breath and sensation are two primary ways that we can listen to our body and what it is communicating to us.
**Yoga skills and techniques presented in this article are not a replacement for medical care or personal instruction from a qualified instructor. Before beginning your yoga practice, consult your physician for any contraindications to the poses and exercises listed such as neck, spine, wrist or ankle injury.
Mindful breathing practice: breathe slow, low, soft, and silent:
- Begin in a comfortable seated position with a tall spine, without being rigid.
- Slowly inhale through your nose.
- Breathe low so that your belly expands on the inhale. Feel your belly rising, the expansion into your rib cage, and gradually upward toward your heart.
- Slowly exhale through your nose.
- Feel your belly softly descend so that you feel your chest, front ribs, and belly recede like a wave.
- Practice for 10 to 20 cycles.
- Avoid gasping, pushing or pulling the inhalations and exhalation.
Mountain Pose in a Chair
- Place your feet parallel and flat on the floor. Feel your feet touch the earth.
- Stack your shoulders over your hips, and position your head above your shoulders.
- Tilt the weight forward in your sitting bones. Then lengthen them down toward the earth. You will feel your belly tone.
- You may press your hands into your thighs or drape them by your side, palms facing forward.
- Lift your ribs out of your waist and lengthen the sides of your torso.
- Draw your shoulder blades together.
- Draw the crown of your head skyward, while keeping your chin parallel to the earth.
- Relax your jaw and tongue.
- Begin in a seated posture with your spine tall or in Mountain Pose in a chair.
- Place your right hand on top of your head.
- Guide your right ear toward your right shoulder with your hand while keeping your shoulders level. To prevent overstretching your neck, do not stay in the pose longer than three breaths.
- Repeat the instructions above on the opposite side of your body.
Move Your Eyes Around the Clock
- Begin in a Mountain Pose in a chair.
- Imagine a large circular clock face in front of you.
- Practice a mindful breath in and out through your nose.
- Inhale and raise your eyes to gaze at twelve o’clock.
- Exhale and return your gaze to the center of the clock.
- Inhale and gaze at one o’clock.
- Exhale and gaze back at the center of the clock.
- Repeat this exercise and gaze at each consecutive hour in a clockwise movement.
- Repeat the exercise above in the opposite, or counterclockwise direction, matching your eye movements with your breath. Soften your gaze lowering your eyelids to half-way closing for 3 to 5 breaths.
- Place your right hand in front of you at chest height, position the palm of your right hand facing left, and spread the fingers of your right hand.
- With the assistance of your left hand, slowly turn your right palm in toward your chest and beyond to face right.
- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
- Repeat the instructions above using the opposite hands.
Wall Dog Pose at a Desk
- Stand tall facing your desk in Mountain Pose standing.
- Place your hands on the desktop. Step your feet back until you form an “L” and feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders, spine or legs. If your hamstrings and lower back are tight, bend your knees and angle your hips high to find a natural lower back curve.
- Enjoy Wall Dog Pose for 3 to 5 breaths.
- Step toward your desk, returning to standing tall.
- Adaptation: Practice seated with a chair facing the wall. Press your hands into the wall and above your head in line with your ears.
Spinal Twist Pose in a Chair
- Begin in Mountain Pose in a Chair.
- Turn toward your right. Place your right hand or forearm on the back of your chair.
- Place your left hand against the outside of your right knee. Press your knee against your hand and your hand against your knee.
- Draw your belly in and up.
- Begin the twist to the right from your navel and then continue the twist up your spine.
- Roll your right shoulder back.
- Turn your head gently to the right after you have twisted your spine.
- Continue to lengthen your spine.
- Enjoy the twist for three to five breaths.
- Practice the instructions above, twisting to the opposite side of your body.
Number 4 Pose in a Chair
- Begin in Mountain Pose in a Chair.
- Lift your right foot, rotate the knee outward, and rest your right ankle on your left thigh.
- Flex your right foot, spread your toes, and press through the ball of the big toe as though it were against a wall.
- Press your left hand into the bottom of your right foot while your right-hand presses into your right thigh.
- You might fold forward over your bent right leg to increase the sensation of the hip or inner thigh stretch.
- Enjoy #4 Pose for 3 to 5 breaths.
- Practice the instructions above using the opposite side of your body
Additional Resources for Adaptive Yoga
Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body is a user-friendly comprehensive resource guide created for individuals with MS, Parkinson’s Disease, and similar neuromuscular conditions. Ideal for new yoga students and yoga instructors and therapists. The Yoga Moves philosophy to is empower yourself to heal through yoga, mindfulness, and lifestyle choices.
Currently free to read with a Kindle Unlimited: 2 months free of digital reading membership
Adaptive Yoga Cards are for any and every body. Accessible poses are presented On Your Feet, On the Mat, and On Your Seat for a home practice by yourself, or with a yoga buddy. They are color-coded with photos of yoga students and simple instructions. They complement Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body book and videos. A Daily Wellness Routine Manual is included to help you focus on your abilities and new possibilities, become empowered, playful and mindful, enhance your flexibility, balance and strength, and nourish yourself.
Free Adaptive Yoga Poster Downloads