Countering ‘Chair Pose’- Your guide to a healthy spine!

Chair Pose.’ No, not that intense squat yoga teachers often make you hold for much longer then you ever would voluntarily hold. I am referring to sitting. The action many North Americans spend the majority of their time in, an average of 13 hours a day- to be exact. Despite chair pose not being a natural pose for the human body, the average North American’s daily routine takes place in the pose; from sitting at a table to eat meals, driving to work, working at a desk to sitting on a couch watching TV. As always, too much of anything is going to cause harm to that glorious body of yours;

HOW sitting causes harm:

Toronto Field Trip festival goers sitting for concert
Toronto festival goers sitting while attending a concert
  • No motion in back or hips
  • Key fat burners shut off the minute we sit down
  • Every 2 hours spent sitting reduced blood flow, raises blood sugar and drops good cholesterol levels by 20%

But fret not friends; simply read on! Below are lists of movements and poses you can do to help decrease any harm caused from all that chair pose (and don’t worry none of them are utkatanasa.) Even if you have no way of reducing the amount of hours you sit, yoga is here to help counteract your ‘chair pose’.

Poses and Stretches to do…

While in Chair Pose (i.e. at your desk, on the bus, in your car etc):

  • Spine and shoulder stretch:
    • Extend your arms out in front of you and interlace your hands in front of your chest.
    • Exhale and flip your palms upward and stretch your arms overhead.
    • Hold for five breaths and release.
  • Goal post backbend:
    • Sit tall at the front edge of your chair with your feet hips-width apart.
    • Open your arms out to your side with elbows bent at 90 degrees and fingertips pointing skyward.
    • On an inhale, lift your rib cage and on an exhale, press your arm bones back.
    • Hold for five breaths.

While at home:

  • Wide legged forward bend (opens tight shoulders and hamstrings)
    • Stand with three to four feet between your feet. Turn your toes in slightly and interlace the fingers in a fist behind the back.
    • Inhale to engage the abs and pull the hands away from the shoulders.
    • Exhale to fold at your hips, keeping the legs and spine straight.
    • Hold for five deep breaths, trying to lower the hands toward the floor.
    • Bring your hands back to hips and on an inhale, with a tall spine, rise up to stand.
  • Lizard pose
    • Step your right foot forward between your palms, keeping your hands on the floor.
    • Lower your left knee to the floor.
    • Release your forearms towards the floor (resting your arms on a prop, if the floor is inaccessible) on the inside of your right leg.
    • Continue to squeeze your right knee toward your body and keep your gaze in front of you to encourage your hips to lower toward the floor.
    • After five breaths, come back onto your hands, tuck your back toes, and step your right leg back. Repeat this pose on the other side.
  • One legged seated spinal twist (relieves tension in lower back)
    • Sit with your legs straight in front of you.
    • Bend your right knee and twist to the right.
    • Plant your right hand on the floor behind you and press your left elbow against the outside of your right knee.
    • Continue twisting and lengthening the spine, enjoying this twist for five breaths.
    • Release the twist and repeat this pose with the left knee bent.


Washington Post

Harvard Health Blog

Written by: Sophie Trottier