Too Much Sitting? Try Chair Yoga!

Published on: 26/01/2021

Find out how to combat a sedentary lifestyle through these chair yoga poses.

As we sit in front of a computer, we may not notice the hours pass by as we go about our work or study. With varying levels of quarantine still in place throughout the country, we may also find ourselves doing more and more tasks online and behind our desks. 

These contribute to the period of time we spend more in a sedentary lifestyle, which can be harmful to our health. While researchers and medical experts continue to debate whether sitting is indeed the new smoking, the negative effects of too much sitting are undeniable.  

The Risks of Prolonged Sitting

In an advisory published by scientists from the American Heart Association, they suggested we should monitor how much time we spend sitting. The panel warned sedentary behavior can increase the risk of chronic disease (such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes), and early death. 

Aside from its negative physical effects, research also reveals that too much sitting can also lead to anxiety and depression. In a study of government employees in Australia, they have found an increased prevalence of symptoms of psychological distress for those who spend their workday seated for more than six hours. 

Why Chair Yoga?

Yoga, in general, can help improve one’s flexibility and strength. By focusing on the breath, it can also help reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Meanwhile, the movements and poses in chair yoga can be good to combat a sedentary lifestyle. Whatever fitness level you are in, it provides an accessible way to practice yoga. 

Because the poses are done in a chair, the difficulty level is reduced. As such, this allows even people with mobility issues to enjoy the health benefits of yoga. In fact, in some senior centers and retirement communities, chair yoga classes have already been made available. 

How to Practice Chair Yoga

Whether you are looking to take a break from your office work, or just want more support in performing the postures, here are some chair yoga poses you can try:

Seated Forward Bend

Inhale and focus on extending your spine as you are sitting on your chair. With both feet firmly planted on the floor, fold over your legs. You can keep your hands on your thighs, by your sides, or let them reach the floor. Take five deep breaths and gently come back up to an upright position as you inhale. 

Simple Seated Twist

Take a big inhale, sit upright, and lengthen your spine. Raise both arms up. Exhale to lower your arms down as you twist to your right side. You can rest your right arm at the top or back of the chair (to help you get into the twist), while your left hand is on your right thigh. Try to look over your right shoulder. Find where the stretch feels good, and make sure you do not forcefully yank yourself in a twist. After five breaths, gently release the pose and do the left side. 

Single-Leg Stretch

To give yourself space, sit a bit more forward by the edge of your chair, but make sure you will not fall off. Straighten your right leg out, and rest your right foot by the heel. Point the right toes up. Inhale to lengthen the spine and exhale to fold forward on your right leg. You can rest both hands on the right leg as you try to deepen the fold. Be mindful that you are not straining yourself, and that you are still supported by the chair. Take five deep breaths, then find your way back to an upright seated position. Do the other side.  

That’s it. So the next time you find yourself sitting for an extended period of time, practice these poses to help you incorporate more movements even though you are still on your chair.