Human beings were not made for sitting all day long. Sitting, especially with a bad posture, tightens and shortens the muscles along the front of the trunk and back of the legs: the hip flexors, hamstrings, chest muscles and abdominal muscles all remain in a contracted state for many hours. Meanwhile, the back is held in a rounded position and thus weakens, the gluts are underused and tighten. If you have found that your lower back feels tight and painful after too much sitting, the exercises below could help. These yoga stretches to counter too much sitting are meant to open the front of the trunk, stretch the thighs and hip flexors. They may also strengthen the upper back and release tension in the lower back.
Apart from doing the exercises once or twice a day, it is important to get up every hour for a short walk. Also stretching at your desk is helpful. In this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/eight-ways-to-stretch-at-your-desk-when-you-wfh/ you can find some inspiration.
As always, pain is a sign of the body that the movement is not beneficial so please stop the movement if it hurts. If you would like yoga advice for your particular condition, do contact me about private lessons here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/.
Bridge with arm movement
-Lie on your back with the feet hip-width apart and not too far from the body.
-Your arms are extended alongside the body with the palms up.
-Exhale and put weight on the feet, thereby tilting the pelvis and lengthening the lower back on the mat.
-Inhale and return to the neutral position. Repeat 4-5 times.
-Exhale, tilt the pelvis and “roll” the spine off the floor, bringing the arms overhead and next to the ears.
-Stay in the bridge position while you inhale, using the lower abdominal muscles to keep the tailbone tucked under and lower back long.
-Exhale and “roll” the spine slowly back on the mat.
-Repeat a few times, lifting the hips as high (or low) as comfortable and making sure you keep pushing down through the feet.
-Holding both knees:
After the bridge pose, bend both knees towards you and hold the knees for a few moments, to release the lower back.
Twist with the feet wider
-Still lying on the back, place the feet mat-width apart and a little further away from the body, so the knees are at least 90 degrees bent.
-Extend the arms to the side, at 45 or 90 degree angles.
-Gently rock the knees from side to side, starting with very small movements.
-If it feels comfortable, exhale and lower the knees further to the side.
-Try to keep both shoulder blades on the floor.
-Inhale the knees to the centre and exhale them to the other side. The head also moves, to look away from the knees.
-Repeat a few times to each side.
-Start by lying on your front, with the forehead on the mat.
-Place your hands underneath the shoulders so that the tips of the fingers are in line with the top of the shoulders.
-Engage the muscles of the lower abdomen to protect your lower back and hold the core firm.
-Leave the legs heavy, press down slightly through the toes and the knees.
-Inhale and raise the head and shoulders forward and up without pushing with the arms. Because you are not pushing on your arms this is a small movement that spares the lower back but lengthens and strengthens the upper back.
-Keep the back of your neck long, looking at the mat rather than forward: the neck is supposed to continue the curve of the upper spine in this pose.
-Exhale and lower the head and shoulders down.
-If your lower back is fine with it, repeat 3-5x.
-Use a blanket and fold it so you end up with a long shape, slightly narrower than your back and roughly as long as your back. Place a thin cushion on top at the end, above or below the blanket.
-Sit in front of the blanket and lie down with your back on the blanket and head on the pillow.
-If your lower back doesn’t like this position, sit on the blanket so the back remains flat.
-Allow the shoulders to soften as they gently relax down on either side of the blanket.
-Stay for 10-20 minutes, paying attention to the sensations in your body and the breath.
For more yoga stretches to counter too much sitting, check out my blog about yoga for the workplace (https://beneyoga.co.uk/yoga-for-the-workplace-releasing-tight-hip-flexors/).
If you would like personalised advice about how to start or improve your yoga practice, please contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/contact-for-yoga-classes-in-chiswick/. I also teach private sessions via Zoom.