We sit, a lot. All of us do it…we sit in our cars, on our couches, at our desks, in our beach chairs (the best kind of sitting!), and at tables while eating. It’s part of our culture in the west, and for some of us we might not have even thought about sitting on the floor in years, even decades! I’ve even heard sitting described as the new “smoking”. It causes tightness in our hips, rounding through our spine, and tension in the neck, just to name a few.
Many of us might have forgotten how amazing our bodies are actually programed to feel! Back pain, neck tightness, and hip discomfort are not ‘normal’ and are things that we definitely don’t have to live with. Yoga not only helps us calm down our minds, balance our central nervous systems, and help us relax, but it can also realign our spines, strengthen our core, and release tension from our physical bodies. Below is an image that might help explain the impacts of all this time we’re spending sitting.
No excuses Yogis! Even 10 minutes of yoga practice per day, or just 1 class a week can have a profound impact on the overall well being of your mind and body. You don’t have to be a contortionist, or even athletic, to receive all the benefits that yoga has to offer! Below is a chair yoga sequence for the spine that consists of three yoga poses that can be done from a seated position and could be practiced anywhere at anytime.
- Seated cat/cow spinal flow
Benefits: Lengthens and tones the spinal column, Stretches the chest and front of the neck, Releases tension from the spinal column and upper back, Therapeutically tones the abdominals, Creates breath focused movement bringing the practitioner into the present moment which may lead to a decrease in stress
How to do it: From a seated position, arrange yourself right at the front of your chair (or couch/bed) so that there is space between your spine and the back of your chair. Align your feet about hip width distance apart on the floor with all ten of your toes pointed straight forward. Align your knees right over your feet, about hip width distance apart. Place your palms gently on top of your thighs and relax your shoulders. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you start to sit up tall through your spine, bringing your head in line with your shoulders. Continue to soften your shoulders down beside you as you slightly hug your naval up and in towards your spine. Keeping your abdominals slightly engaged take a big inhale as you lift your chest, heart and chin up to the ceiling, creating a big arch your back. Now, as you exhale, round your upper back letting your shoulders and chin come forward as you press your heart behind you. Continue to move in this way for 2 whole minutes.
Inhale: Lift your chest opening your front bod
Exhale: Round your spine hugging your abdominals in and your heart behind you
2. Seated side bend
Benefits: Creates space through our side bodies which makes more room for more breath, Releases tension through our spine, Releases tension from our shoulders and neck, Can help realign the spine and reset the central nervous system
How to do it: From a seated position plant your feet on the ground and align your knees right over your ankles. Place both of your palms gently on top of your legs. Take a couple of deep breaths while sitting up tall, lengthening through spine, and reaching the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Leaving your left hand on your left leg, take a big inhale as you reach your right arm up by your right ear. As you exhale start to side bend to the left as you reach your right arm up and over to the left. Take five to ten full deep inhales and five to ten full slow exhales. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Seated spinal twist
Benefits: Releases tension through spine, Rejuvenates and re-lubricates spinal discs, Releases tension from shoulders and neck, Massages abdominal organs, Aids digestion, May release tension from low back and lumbar region, Can give practitioner a ‘reset’ or energized feeling after sitting still for long periods
How to do it: From a seated position arrange yourself right at the front of your chair (or couch/bed) so that there is space between your spine and the back of your chair. Align your feet about hip width distance apart on the floor with all ten of your toes pointed straight forward. Align your knees right over your feet, about hip width distance apart. Place your palms gently on top of your thighs and relax your shoulders. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you start to sit up tall through your spine, bringing your head in line with your shoulders. Take a big inhale as you reach all 10 of your fingers towards the sky. As you slowly exhale start to turn your chest open to the right as you bring both hands to the outside of your right leg, your right hand might even land at your low back, or on the surface behind you. Continue to lengthen up through your spine as you take five to ten full deep inhales, and five to ten full slow exhales. Repeat on the opposite side.
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