With the increase trend towards healthy living, and a more holistic approach to movement and exercise becoming popular, lots of people are wondering how to stay healthy when working sat down. Dubbed the “sitting sickness”, moving very little throughout the day is thought to have some serious risk factors. Supposedly, even a hard gym session at the end of the day can’t undo the effects of sitting for eight hours. I’ve had a few requests for yoga-style movements that can be done on your chair at a desk. Whilst these poses are hardly a match for being able to take a lunchtime walk and standing meetings, they should help to alleviate some of the postural issues associated with working at a computer. The first few are unobtrusive enough that no one should even notice you doing them. The last few require perhaps some more understanding colleagues, so skip them if you need.
Prop your right ankle over the left knee, foot flexed. Actively press the right knee away from you as you lean forward. Once you start to feel a stretch in the outer hip, pause, and breath here slowly. Slowly come out and swap sides.
Next, try a simple twist to loosen up the spine. Plant the feet hip-width apart and using your hands for support, twist to face behind you. Think about drawing the shoulders down the back and lifting the chest. This helps to counteract the roundness of the back that occurs from typing on a keyboard. Either keep the graze in line with the shoulders or look back.
Bring the right ear to right shoulder, using your hand on head to gently encourage the stretch. Avoid tipping the head forwards or backwards. After a couple of breaths, use your hand to return the head carefully to neutral and swap sides.
Next, stand to face the chair, about a meter or so away. If your chair has wheels, put it against a wall to avoid it sliding. Step the right leg up onto the chair and lean into the lunge. If you knee is shooting far over the ankle, shift the left leg back until the knee is stacked above the ankle.
From the lunge, straighten your right leg and move your hips back. If you’re not feeling a stretch, start to fold forwards, keeping the spine long. Stare straight down your leg towards the back of the chair to do this. Breath, and repeat both poses on the left leg.
The next pose definitely requires understanding colleagues and ideally a cushion for your knee. Step away from the chair and drop the left knee to the ground. Lift the back of the left foot onto the chair, and straighten the spine. Either rest the hands on your right knee and face forward, or twist round to the right. The closer the knee is to the chair, the more of a stretch you should feel up your quad.
Bonus: This posture is less about counteracting sitting down and more about improving general mobility. Facing sideways step the right leg onto the chair and work the left leg away so you can sink a little deeper into the hips. If you need, hold onto the chair for balance or press your right upper arm into the inner knee and bring the hands in front of you.