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7 Yoga Stretches for Relief After Sitting

From your body’s perspective, sitting sucks.

But many of us (me included) have jobs that require us to sit at a desk throughout our workdays. We have to pay the bills somehow (am I right or am I right?). That being said, did you know that there are various body stretches for sitting that can help you balance this all out?

Just because you sit all day, it doesn’t mean your body and health have to take a hit!

If you’re looking to counteract sitting, stretches are your new best friend. So, let’s dive straight into what yoga stretches you can do for relief after sitting.

7 Yoga Stretches for Relief After Sitting All Day

Here’s the thing: You only need about 10-15 minutes to perform these stretches to combat sitting all day. That’s literally less than 1% of your day. You can totally do this!

So, let’s get to it. What are some great back stretches and yoga poses for desk sitters?

Stretch #1: Downward Dog

Yoga poses don’t really get any better than this!

The downward dog pose activates your body but also stretches some seriously tight areas that become tight because - you guessed it - you’re sitting for longer than our body needs.

All in all, this one is great for your legs which have probably been stuck at a 90-degree angle for most of your day. So, it’s time to stretch ‘em out! Here’s how:

  • Begin on your hands and knees (in all-fours).
  • Then, send your butt up to the sky. Create an upside-down “V.”
  • Your tailbone should be intending upwards, and your arms and legs should both be straight. This should feel good!
  • A little tip here: Intend your heels toward the floor. You might not be able to fully get them to touchdown (if you can, awesome!) but get them as close as possible. This will further that stretch through your legs (especially your calves!).
  • Hold here for 5-10 breaths.
  • Then, come back down onto all-fours so we can dive into that next stretch!

Stretch #2: Child’s Pose

Out of all the body stretches for sitting, this one basically takes the least effort or work. And this is a winner for back pain stretches.

  • From all-fours, bring your buttocks back to rest on your feet.
  • Keeping your arms extended in front of you, drop your forehead to touch the floor (or your mat). And settle here.
  • If it feels better, rest your arms at your sides. Do what feels good!
  • Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths or longer. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Stretch #3: Cat & Cow

woman in cat cow yoga pose

We’re going to come up out of that child’s pose stretch now!

Position your body back into that all-fours or table-top position. This is a great stretch for desk sitters because it goes through full flexion and extension ranges in your lower back. And your back takes a huge hit when you sit all day.

It’s not uncommon for desk workers to develop back pain. So, let’s squash it before it becomes a problem!

  • Gently (and slowly) bring your gaze up high to the sky. At the same time, arch your belly down toward the floor.
  • Pause, then slowly bring your head in between both arms. At the same time, arch your lower back upwards.
  • Continue to do this for 5-10 breaths.

Read this article next: The Secret Muscle That Can Cure Your Back Pain

Stretch #4: Mountain Pose

Mountain pose doesn’t only make you feel like a superhero (oh, it’s powerful!). But it also opens up your chest, which if you’ve been letting your posture lag, you definitely need!

So, how do you do one-of-a-kind body stretch?

Here’s how:

  • Stand tall. Your feet should be about hip-width apart.
  • Extend your arms up over your head with your palms facing forward.
  • Gently, bend slightly back. Make sure you keep breathing deeply as you do this.
  • Hold again for about 5-10 breaths. If you feel any pain in your lower back, ease off of the backbend.

Stretch #5: Standing Forward Fold

The standing forward fold is such a great release for the upper body (like those achy and sore neck and shoulders).

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart for this one.
  • Gently bend forward at the hips and allow your body to just hang out here for a little while.
  • If you want to add a little more, put your hands under your feet (palms up) or grab your opposite elbows with your hands and sway or hold here.

Stretch #6: Cobra Pose

woman in cobra yoga pose

While backbends aren’t exactly everyone’s friend, especially when it comes to body stretches for sitting, this one is pretty accessible for most!

  • Lay face down on the floor.
  • Put your hands on the ground slightly in front of your shoulders, then gently push up as far as you comfortably can.
  • Bring your gaze upwards, and hold for 5-10 breaths.
  • If at any point you feel discomfort, gently release and come down to the floor.

Improve your backbends with: Mastering the Backbend & Freeing Your Spine

Stretch #7: Knees to Chest

This is the last of our body stretches for sitting! You made it. And it didn’t even take that long. This one is also super simple, and such a wonderful way to finish off this whole routine.

  • Lay on your back on a comfortable surface.
  • Bend one knee and bring it toward your chest. Hug it toward you with both hands.
  • Hold here for 5-10 breaths, then do the same thing on the opposite side.
  • To finish off all of these counteract sitting stretches, grab both knees and pull them in toward your chest, holding for 5-10 breaths.

And you’re done!

Do These Yoga Poses for Desk Sitters on the Regular!

You’ll get more out of it and feel better after sitting at your desk all day long, knowing you have a plan in place to counteract those negative effects.

While you can’t control the fact that you sit all day, you can control what you do afterward.

And realistically, stretching is only the tip of the iceberg. Get outside and get active when you’re done work (or before). Find ways to get your body moving on the regular!

Related article: 5 Simple Stretches to Reduce Hip Pain

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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