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A simple guide for you to thrive in your Yoga practice!
Yoga For People Who Sit All Day [Updated]
You’ve probably heard the expression: “Sitting is the new smoking” and I bet you worried about how truthful this might sound. Almost 70% of full time American workers hate sitting but they do it every day.
According to a survey commissioned by Ergotron, a global manufacturer of digital display mounting, and mobility products (including sit-stand desks), in total, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours, which means a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day.
There is no doubt that, similarly to what happens when a person smokes and wants to quit for health reasons, finding a solution to stand to the fact that sitting is the new smoking is not easy.
Getting more active is not always possible if you work in an office environment and are sitting for long hours. This is where Yoga can be a big help for people who sit all day.
What happens to our body when you sit for many hours
Your metabolism can slow down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting!
It is a lot! According to Gavin Bradley, director of Active Working, an international group aimed at reducing excessive sitting, along with slowing your metabolism, the enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles (where it can get burned off) also slow down.
The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent.”
Your hip flexors become too tight
Sitting for many hours, especially with poor posture, causes the glutes (butt muscles) to lengthen to compensate. According to Amy Schlinger in her article “The Workout You Need to Do If You Sit All Day” , when the glutes can’t do their job, other muscles in your body have to work harder, which ultimately can overwork them, leading to poor body alignment and aches. Tight hip flexors also make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly—inhibited mobility in this area can cause compression and pain in the lower back. One single hip malfunction can lead to a chain of problems in the whole body.
Your shoulders and neck suffer an overload of tension when you sit all day
How many times you have to lower your eyes to the screen, without even turning your neck from side to side for hours?
And what happens to your body with all the huge change between the immobility of your lower body (torso, legs, hips, feet) and the repetitive movements of only a few other parts of your body (arms, fingers, elbows, shoulders, neck)?
That’s where Yoga can help if you sit all day at work.
When you’re working in the computer, you’re not aware of how tension starts building up fast. If you’re not used to exercise regularly – to be more sensitive to your body’s complains- is easy to forget about the load of tension that your body is carrying.
From there, the tension becomes temporary pain, occasional discomfort becomes chronic pain. The solution is to prevent this cycle and this is when Yoga can help if you sit all day in your computer.
Why Yoga can Help if you Sit all Day for Work
Along with any other activities you might do, even if you have a regular fitness routine, you still need to take breaks during your sitting hours to stretch and engage your posture and muscles in a more holistic approach. Even if Yoga is your choice of physical activity, like it is for me, and Yoga has already shaped your body, taking breaks for stretches while you’re sitting all day can not be replaced.
- Yoga is a practice that always takes in consideration the whole body, every pose engages articulations, tissues and muscles in a holistic movement approach
- Yoga sharpens attention and concentration, and calms the nervous system centres
- Yoga also improves the mood, behaviour, and mindfulness
- Yoga is a mind and body practice, which includes meditation, deep breathing which will help to reduce stress and improve stress-related imbalance
- Yoga practice changes the firing patterns of the nerves and chemical mechanism of the body’s fluids and blood gases, that activate a relaxation response.
- According to Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D., in her article for Pshycology Today: “By concentrating on maintaining a specific body posture and alignment of a pose and then holding it, as you breathe deeply, the body starts to shift from a state of biochemical arousal and tension to calm and relaxation,”
How Yoga Can Help if You Sit All Day
The best way to have an effective help from your Yoga practice is to follow a daily routine of small breaks during your working day. If you’re a total Yoga Beginner check out some information here on how to start. From there, plan the daily breaks in advance, it doesn’t take much. Watch videos or even follow them if you work in an environment that allows for this.
- How Yoga can Shape your Body
- Pre Natal Yoga Benefits
- Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Hot Yoga and Weight Loss
- Morning Yoga Poses todo in Bed
Simple Yoga Poses for People who Sit all Day
- Set a timer to take a break as frequently as you can, and use your desk and chair to do some modified Yoga poses.
Before you start, try to get your mind out of whatever you were working for a few minutes. If you have the space, sit down on the floor and take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, focusing in your body and yourself.
You also can do this standing or sitting up on your chair.
1- Over-the-Head Stretch and Seated Side Bends
Start with a simple and easy stretch, keep this video bookmarked and take only 4 min to do it:
2- Chest opening, back and shoulders twist, neck release and hips and hamstrings activation
This is another Yoga short video that combines several simple movements to stretch your whole body. It will take you 5 min and you will feel re-energized to keep working and be productive. Yoga for neck pain has become more and more popular since we’re all hooked on cell phones and other eletronics.
Yin Yoga is another great way to get some relief from sitting for many hours. You will be holding the poses for a bit longer, which will help your awareness of how your body is feeling. It is slow pace and very relaxing.
3- Yoga for wrists and forearms short routine
If you type a lot and I bet you do, give it a go with gentle stretches to increase blood flow to your forearms, wrists & fingers. It is another short video that you can keep it bookmarked and repeat every day. You will notice a big difference after just a few days.
4- Stretch sequence to combat hunched posture
If you have room for a mat by your desk this is definitely the best sequence for a full body quick relaxation. It is a simple and short routine to stretch out your back, relieve pain and stiffness, and reverse the hunched posture of sitting at a desk all day.
Note: this is a more advanced sequence and you should start with warming up poses before doing this one
Yoga accessories for your office
Blocks are a must have. Ideally, you’ll need 2 of them. These are 100% all-natural cork, durable and easy to clean. They are way more sturdy than foam blocks and more lightweight and cheaper than bamboo blocks. If you’re working from hoe, keeping blocks nearby is a great excuse for a break from your desk.
Bolsters are versatile props for all the practices listed above. They are soft yet firm, their versatility is amazing. One is enough. Yin Yoga is a good example of a type of Yoga practice in which bolsters are used to facilitate postures that are held for longer periods of time. I keep my mat close to my desk along with 2 blocks and a bolster. I just love taking a break for a child’s pose, leaning on my bolster. A few long breaths, eyes closed and I am ready to go to the desk again.
Sitting Ball Chair for Home or Office is not necessarily a Yoga accessory but it is a great way to engage your core for a certain amount of time every day. I find that I can’t stay too long sitting on these sitting balls, but for the duration I am on, it is so worth it!
Yoga can help you get fit for life. It helps your body to deal with stress, pick up your child, control your dog, carry groceries, work at the office or work in your garden. Just like anything in life, it is not magic, it takes work and time. The feeling of owning a body that works so well and gives you so much reward is priceless. If you sit all day, get started on your simple Yoga stretches and I promise, you will feel much better!