This is a guest post by the lovely Tega! Check out her blog for awesome yoga routines and healthy lifestyle tips.
I’ve had a throbbing pain beneath one of my shoulder blades for over a year now. For the longest time, I thought it was due to an injury from a workout and decided it would heal eventually. A couple of weeks ago, I got tired of dealing with the pain and decided to visit a physical therapist.
Turns out the pain in my shoulder wasn’t from an injury at all, but from bad posture. Apparently sitting in the position pictured below, with that curve in my neck, for long periods of time is not good!
Not only does our culture of constant sitting lead to bad posture, it also causes a buildup of tension in our muscles that we tend to ignore by remaining seated.
I want you to think back on your day yesterday. How much time did you spend in a position similar to this?
Hunched over your computer, paper and pen, or book for hours on end. Maybe you’re working on a blog post, or a project for work. Perhaps you have a paper due for school the next day and you’re trying to get it finished. Point is we spend so much of our time like this and don’t even realize the negative effects it has on our body.
Our spine can move in four different directions – forward (spine flexion), backward (spine extension), sideways (lateral flexion), and in a twist. However, most of us spend a majority of our time in the flexed position.
This short routine will help you move your spine in all four directions, and strengthen and lengthen the hamstring and hip flexors which don’t get used much when we’re seated. Once you’re done with this routine, you’ll feel some of the stress you’ve been holding in your muscles melt away and you’ll be ready get some more work done!
10-Minute Chair Yoga Routine for Stress Relief
There are two ways to go through this routine:
- Hold each one pose 3 to 5 slow breaths before moving to the next one.
- Set your timer for 10 minutes, and cycle through each pose until your alarm goes off.
Begin sitting in your chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight to elongate your spine. Place your palms on your knees and on an inhale, drop your head back, pull your chest up and forward for a slight backbend.
Benefits: Stretches the muscles along the spine, middle back, shoulders and chest.
On an exhale from cow pose, round your back and draw your belly in. Gently tuck your chin in towards your chest and expand the area between your shoulder blades. Draw your belly in towards your spine, and up towards your ribs.
Benefits: Stretches the muscles along the spine, middle back, and shoulders.
Shift forward in your chair so that you’re seated right on the edge. Extend your legs out in front of you with your heels resting on the floor, and your toes pointing up towards the ceiling. On an exhale, lift your kneecaps to engage your quads and lean forward from your hips for a hamstring and lower back stretch. Place your hands on your knees, shins, or grabbing your toes – whatever is most comfortable for you. Keep your heart reaching strongly towards your feet and your gaze straight ahead.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings and lower back.
Sitting with your feet firmly planted on the floor and a straight back, place your right ankle on your left knee and flex your toes. You should feel a really good stretch in your right hip. If you want to go deeper, on an exhale, slowly lean forward from your hips. As you lean forward, gently push your right knee down towards the floor (feel free to use your palm or right elbow for this).
Keep your belly drawing in strongly towards your spine, heart reaching forward and gaze straight ahead. Don’t forget to do the other side!
Benefits: Deeply stretches the hips thigh and groin muscles.
From a seated position, place your palms on the chair behind you and hold the sides of the chair seat. Extend your feet in front of you with both feet on the floor. On an inhale, lift your butt of the chair and press your hips strongly up towards the ceiling. If it feels comfortable, drop your head back, close your eyes and relax. Ensure that your belly is drawing in towards your spine and your hips are lifting strongly towards the ceiling while you’re in this pose.
Benefits: Stretches the chest, thighs, abs and hip flexors. Strengthens the core, arms, upper back and glutes.
Seat with your feet firmly planted on the floor, hip distance apart, and your back straight with your core engaged to keep good posture. On an inhale, lift your left hand up towards the ceiling and on an exhale, bend your arm at your elbows and place your palm on your upper back. On your next breath, reach your right arm behind you and clasp both palms together.
If your palms don’t reach, hold on to your shirt/top/blouse or grab a strap if you happen to have one in your work space. Keep your lifted arm pulling backwards gently and your gaze straight ahead. Remember to do the other side.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulders and chest. Improves shoulder mobility.
From your seated position, place your left hand on the chair seat next to you and lift your right hand up towards the ceiling. On and exhale, turn your gaze focused down towards the floor and lean your torso over to the left. Keeping your right arm by your ear, reach it strongly away from your body.
Keep your belly drawing in and your chest open towards the side. Once again, don’t forget to stretch the other side!
Benefits: Stretches side shoulders and side core muscles.
Beginning in your seated position, place your left hand on the chair seat behind you and your right hand on the outside of your left knee. On an inhale, reach your head up strongly towards the ceiling and on an exhale, gently turn your shoulders to the left. To help deepen your twist, gently press your right hand against your knee.
Benefits: Increases spinal flexibility.
One last thing…
One of my favorite quotes to share is: The hustle is important, but your health is more important. You’re more efficient when you’re in good health, so don’t forget to prioritize your self care. This short flow can serve as your brain break in the middle of work and you don’t even have to leave your desk to do it! If you’d like to keep this routine close to you for easy reference, download the phone sized infographic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tega is a PhD student and Yoga consultant who specializes in helping busy women build their home yoga practice. She runs a blog called SocialHermit, where she shares her best yoga tips and routine, as well as ways to stay healthy spiritually. Her mission is to teach + inspire other girl bosses to live healthy, holistically with Yoga and God’s Word.
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