Monday through Friday I work a typical 9-5 cube job, meaning, like so many people, a lot of my day is spent sitting. While I am lucky enough have a stand up desk which allows me to move up and down throughout the day (this is seriously the best invention) I still spend WAY more time sitting than I’d like to. One complaint I hear all the time from co-workers is how their bodies ache from sitting all day.
Sitting compresses our hip flexors, causes us to hunch our shoulders over our keyboards, and has been linked to a whole bevy of negative health impacts. Coined “the new smoking”, studies show that office workers may be sitting up to 75% of their waking day. Such a sedentary life is linked with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In the body, sitting for such extended periods of time can also lead to joint stiffness, low back pain, and tight hips.
So, how to combat this?
- Get up and MOVE throughout your day. Take walks during your breaks, walk over to someone’s cube instead of sending them an email, look into if your company will support a sit/stand desk, or stand when appropriate during calls or meetings.
- Try my top yoga poses to counter cube life! These focus on getting mobility into the joints, opening up the hips, and creating movement and strength in the spine. I’ve also included a few poses to counter the keyboard hunch by opening up across the chest.
- Forward Fold – Forward fold stretches the backside of the legs, the hamstrings down to the calves. This pose also helps to keep the spine strong and flexible. Remember to keep as much bend in the knees as you need, you want your focus to be on creating length through the spine.
- Spinal Twists – Twisting poses help to maintain mobility and range of motion in the spine. If the natural motions of the spine are not used, the joints start to harden. Spinal twists can be taken reclined (laying on the ground), seated, or in an energizing pose such as chair or crescent lunge. For all twists, first create a long spine with each breath in, then find a deeper twist with each exhale.
- Crescent Lunge – This pose is amazing for stretching the hip flexors. You can also add a gentle backbend to open up across the front of the body. Be careful to keep the front knee stacked over the front ankle and not to let it track any further towards your toes.
- Three-legged dog – From downward facing down, lift your right heel high to the sky and then stack the right hip on top of the left. Continue to press down into your right palm to keep the chest square to the earth, and begin to draw circles in either direction with your knee. Repeat on the opposite site. This brings mobility into the hip joint.
- Warrior 2 – This powerful pose will open up the chest, stretch the hips and inner thighs, and can help to relieve low back pain. Keep the heart lifted, extend long from fingertip to fingertip, and press down through both pinky toes.
- Lizard Pose – Lizard pose is great for stretching out the hamstrings, groin, and hip flexors. This pose also opens up the hips and creates length in the spine. Let your hips be heavy towards the earth, keep the spine extended long, and let the head fall easily towards the mat – releasing any tension in the neck.
- Yogi’s Squat – Malasana, or Yogi Squat, helps to open the hips and groin, stretches the ankles, and is keeps the hip joint healthy. This is one of my favorite preparatory poses for deeper hip openers. If your hips are feeling tight, place a block beneath your sit bones for more support.
- Camel Pose – Camel pose aids in opening up across the chest; focus on the lift through the sternum in this pose, as if a string was gently tugging your heart upwards. This pose is also a deep stretch for the hip flexors, extending them long after a day of sitting in flexion.
- Pigeon Pose – Pigeon pose can help ease low back pain, open the hip joint, and release stress or anxiety. This pose is advance and an intense stretch for the hip; you can always take this pose lying down: start with knees bent and both feet on the earth, then cross the left ankle over the right thigh and begin to draw the right knee towards your chest. Repeat on the opposite site.