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MOVE

Combat sitting disease: Eight standing yoga postures

Prolonged sitting can take a great toll on our health—from elevating the risk of serious disease to impacting weight, energy, strength and flexibility. When you sit all day, your leg and hip muscles tighten, and the muscles that support your spine become weak and stiff. You lose out on the hundreds of muscle contractions of the lower body that help maintain normal metabolism.   

To combat these negative effects, get out of your chair and do some standing yoga. The following standing yoga postures can help combat the ill effects of sitting and help increase your well-being while improving your flexibility, balance and strength.   

Do these yoga postures during a 10-minute work break or one at a time throughout the day to get you up and out of your chair. Do each posture at your own level, using your comfort as a guide. You can hold on to the back of your chair with one or both hands if needed for support or balance.  

Avoid pain or strain—adapt or avoid postures as needed for comfort and safety. 

Hold each for 3 to 6 breaths or for as long as you can maintain a sense of steadiness with ease and a rhythmic breath.  

mountain pose -sitting disease

Preparatory: Mountain posture

Feel yourself becoming steady, present and calm.

  • Stand with your feet together, big toes touching, feet parallel.
  • Lift and spread your toes. Feel the soles of your feet making contact with the floor.
  • Firm your leg muscles.
  • Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor—draw your navel up in toward your spine.
  • Lift your sternum, keeping your collarbones and shoulder blades wide.
  • Bring your chin parallel with the floor, and the crown of your head lifted toward the sky.
  • Soften your face.
  • Close your eyes. Sway side to side and forward and back.
  • Gradually stop swaying and stabilize until you feel completely balanced.
  • Notice your breath. Breathe through your nose.
  • Extend your inhales and exhales.
  • Hold the mountain posture for 5 to 10 breaths.

 

chair pose - sitting disease

Chair

Feel the power of your body supporting itself without sitting in the chair.

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • While inhaling, lift your arms up, palms facing inward.
  • Exhale. Bend your knees and sit back, inner thighs parallel.
  • Shift your weight into your heels and keep your torso lifted upright.
  • Lengthen your tailbone down and pull your abdominals inward.
  • Keep your arms stretched forward and your shoulder blades firm into your back.
  • Gaze straight ahead or at your thumbs for concentration.

 

Warrior 2

Warrior 2

Cultivate your inner warrior to take on life's challenges.

  • Place your feet apart 3½ to 4 feet.
  • Turn your right foot to the right and left foot slightly to the right. Line your right heel up with your left arch.
  • Inhale, arms outward.
  • Exhale, bend your right knee so that it aligns directly above your ankle. Adjust your stance as needed for alignment.
  • Keep your shoulders stacked over your hips.
  • Lengthen your tailbone down and pull your naval up and in.
  • Stretch your arms energetically outward, and relax your shoulders down away from your ears.
  • Bring your gaze over your right fingertips to help you focus.
  • Repeat the posture on your left side.

 

Triangle

Triangle

Allow yourself to feel capable and open to new possibilities.

  • Place your feet apart 3½ to 4 feet.
  • Turn your right foot to the right and left foot slightly to the right. Line your right heel with your left arch.
  • Reach arms outward.
  • Inhale, bend from your hip, extend your torso to the right.
  • Exhale, reach your right arm down, resting your right hand inside the right leg. Reach your left arm to the sky.
  • Keep your knees straight but not locked.
  • Stack your shoulders on top of each other.
  • Look straight ahead or toward your right thumb if comfortable.
  • Repeat the posture on your left side.

 

Crescent moon

Crescent lunge

Enjoy feeling strong and balanced at the same time:

  • Place your right foot forward 3½ to 4 feet.
  • Lift your back left heel.
  • Inhale, raise your arms overhead, palms facing in.
  • Exhale, bend your right knee. Line up your right knee over your ankle. Adjust your stance as needed for alignment.
  • Keep your back leg strong. Press through your back heel to stabilize.
  • Lengthen your tailbone down, and contract your abdominals up and in.
  • Keep your torso upright. Square your hips and shoulders forward toward the front of your space.
  • Keep arms stretched upward and your shoulders relaxed down away from your ears.
  • Keep your head neutral and your gaze straight ahead.
  • Repeat the posture on your left side.

 

Warrior1

Warrior 1

Tap into your courage, perseverance and inner calm—feel them increase with your breath.

  • Move your right foot forward 3½ to 4 feet.
  • Turn your left foot to 45 degrees. Line your right front heel with your left back heel.
  • Inhale, and raise your arms upward, palms facing in.
  • Exhale. Bend your right knee in line over your ankle. Adjust your stance as needed for alignment.
  • Keep your back leg strong. Press through your back heel to stabilize.
  • Keep your torso upright. Square your hips and shoulders forward.
  • Lengthen your tailbone down and pull your belly in.
  • Keep your arms stretched upward. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Keep your head neutral and your gaze straight ahead.
  • Repeat the posture on your left side.

 

Tree

Tree

Grow your concentration and balance and allow Tree Posture to remind you to find life balance.

  • Place your weight on your left leg and find your balance. Spread your toes out and stand equally on each part of the foot.
  • Keep your left leg strong with your knee straight.
  • Bend your right knee and turn it outward to the right.
  • Place the sole of your right foot above or below your left knee.
  • Keep your hips level. Lengthen your tailbone down and draw your navel up and in toward your spine.
  • Place your palms together at your heart or extend your arms to the sky.
  • Find a focal point at eye level and keep a steady gaze.
  • Repeat the posture on your left side.

 

mountain posture

Closing: Mountain posture

Carry flexibility, strength, balance, steadiness and inner calm with you as you move through your day.

  • Repeat mountain posture (first pose).
  • Close your eyes and allow yourself time and space for observation.
  • Allow your body, mind and breath to become light and effortless. Notice the subtleties of your breath, the sensations in your body and how you feel overall. 
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths until you feel ready to move on with your day.

Inhale, raising your arms overhead. Open your eyes. Exhale, arms down.

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