Not all of us have the patience, time or interest in full-flow yoga. And that’s okay! Because trying even one of these yoga poses can relieve some of the stress and soreness caused by sitting. When we’re sedentary all day, our hips are tense, our back is stressed and our lower body becomes sore and numb. We probably don’t need to go into details on the symptoms – that’s why you’re here! To relieve this tightness and stretch those muscles, we’ve compiled 10 gentle but rejuvenating yoga poses. Try one (or two) each day and hold for a couple of minutes each. Breathe into the tightness, be gentle and patient with your body and feel as your body relaxes, one inch at a time.
This pose improves length and flexibility in the back of the legs and through the spine, whilst relieving tension in your shoulder blades. It’s also a good way to strengthen the hands and arms, and bring blood circulation to the upper body. If you’re not flexible through your hamstrings, bend your knees to relax into the pose, making sure to keep your tailbone pointed as high as possible to straighten the spine.
This restorative pose is as simple as they come. It’s gentle and calming, and gives your shoulders and lower back a great stretch as well as the muscles down your quadriceps (thighs). When doing this pose, try to centre your thoughts and focus on deep breathing and feel the pressure and tension in your body slip away.
Standing forward fold
This pose is a great tension reliever. It decompresses the vertebrae in your spine, relaxes your neck and shoulders, and lengthens and stretches your legs and hamstrings. It’s basically the opposite of sitting!
When we spend a good portion of our day sitting hunched over, backbends and spinal movements are essential to maintaining the health of our spine. This cat-cow pose loosens all of your back muscles and opens up your chest. Move fluidly between the two bends in this pose and feel those long spinal muscles move freely.
Legs up the wall
This pose supports your aching back muscles against the firm floor, gradually relaxing them and easing stress whilst pulling tight on those hamstrings to relieve tensions. This pose is also excellent to drain any lactic acid and excess fluid from your legs, relieving discomfort and easing in a good night’s sleep.
Standing side bend
This pose is another great counter-pose to sitting. It lengthens the entire length of your body from toe tips to fingertips, stretching all the muscles in your legs, sides and arms, and increasing flexibility in the back.
This pose is all about improving your posture by toning the muscles that you use whilst seated upright. Good posture is essential for proper body alignment while seated, to improve breathing and eliminate back pain. With repetition, the chair pose will offer long term posture benefits, whilst opening up the chest, increasing the stamina in your legs and relieving stress through body balance.
Low crescent lunge
We tend to hold a lot of stress and tightness in the hip area, and this is especially the case for those of us who sit all day. This pose gives an amazing stretch through the front of your hips and opens up the hip flexors, as well as engaging your glutes and strengthening your torso. This is super important for proper back mobility and posture too!
Lying spinal twist
Of all yoga poses, this is the easiest, gentlest way to decompress your spine. It stretches all through your back for an amazing tension release and flexibility boost, all while lengthening your hip rotators and relieving any pain in your torso. It really is an amazing pose. And because you’re lying on the floor, you’re supported and gravity does a lot of the work for you!
Supported fish pose
This pose is a great reliever for the hunching posture and upper back and neck soreness many of us endure while working on a computer or looking at our phones. It opens up the chest and shoulders in two directions, increasing extension through the spine, and is an amazing tension antidote for the neck in particular. This one might need a little instruction, so here’s how to make it work for you:
- Lie on a mat with your back flat on the floor. Place a soft block (a few magazines or newspapers wrapped in a towel work well!) beneath your mid back and another beneath your head.
- Bring your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. Keeping your butt on the floor, inhale as you arch your back, pressing your hands and forearms into the ground.
- Keeping your legs strong, hold for five breaths, then relax your back.
For more fitness content, expert advice and endless free workouts, head to our fitness home page!
Blog reviewed by: Stephanie King BAppSc (Ex&SpSc)