Many of us spend a lot of time sitting and, sometimes, standing up to exercise and stretch is simply not an option. Here are five yoga poses you can do without getting up from your chair. Some of them can also be done in a tight airplane seat, like side twists and eagle pose. You may take each pose as far as you are comfortable, or hold back a bit and make it relaxed. Do them all in a sequence, or choose a couple for a when you´re feeling tired and tense.
Make sure both feet are firmly and squarely planted on the floor, and the crown of your head is reaching to the ceiling. Imagine you are a puppet and someone is pulling a string right up from the crown of your head. Relax your neck and bring your shoulders down. Only go as far as is comfortable for you and hold the pose for a few breaths, in and out of your nose. Then, slowly twist to the other side.
Eagle pose is one of my personal favorites. You don´t have to twist your arms and legs into a pretzel. Simply crossing one leg over the other and perhaps holding your forearms together in front of you as in prayer also provides a good stretch. Cross and uncross, and then repeat on the other side. Lift your hands towards the ceiling to release tension from between your shoulder blades. Engage your core and hold for a few breaths, in and out of your nose.
Does chair pose in a chair sound redundant? Perhaps, but it´s a good way to release tension from your lower back. You may also hold your hands in prayer at your heart cente. Engage your glutes, and keep your knees over your ankles. Keep your head in line with your neck. Engage your core (abs and back – the “girdle” area). Breathe in and out of your nose. You may relax and repeat.
This requires a little more room around you than the other poses, but it´s doable if you have that space. Just like when doing warrior two standing up, engage your glutes and core, press feet firmly in the ground and think of your inner thighs engaging as well. Core (the “girdle” area) should also feel engaged. Neck is relaxed, shoulders are down and your arms outstretched, as you look beyond the tips of your fingers. Hold for a few breaths in and out of your nose, and then repeat on the other side.
You may use books instead of blocks, or place your hands all the way down on the floor, resting your belly on your thighs, relaxing your neck. If you have acid reflux or high blood pressure, it may be better to keep your head higher, as in the picture. Inhale through your nose and then hinge forward from your hip as you exhale. Inhale and exhale slowly and fully as you relax into the pose.