The COVID-19 global health crisis is tragically affecting the whole world. Here is an update on how it will affect future Nomad Yoga teacher trainings and events.

Use These 6 Gentle Yoga Poses to Counter the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day

By Nomad Yoga

We’ve all heard that sitting is the new smoking. And while this may be a gimmicky tagline, there is truth to the fact that sitting all day can wreak havoc on our bodies.

“Yoga for sitting all day” is a common search in Google because so many people are desperately wondering how to counteract their sedentary lifestyles.

You may need to sit at a desk at work for hours at a time or to sit for hours on your daily commute. And you likely come home and then sit on the couch some more.

We’ve all heard that sitting is the new smoking.

Even though constant sitting is undoubtedly bad for our bodies, there is both bad news and good news.

The effects of sitting all day can be truly frightening so you should absolutely search for ways to get up more often. You definitely don’t want to spend your entire work week (and weekend!) sitting all day long.

But thankfully, practices like yoga can help to reverse the negative effects of sitting all day.

Yoga for Sitting All Day - Practice These 6 Gentle Yoga Poses to Help Counter the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day:

If you’re trying to counteract the effects of sitting all day, then these simple yoga poses can help you to undo some of the harm your body experiences from being too sedentary.

For these postures you will need two yoga blocks (or thick books) and a bolster (or pillow). You may also wish to have a yoga strap as well.

1. Twisted Lizard Quad Stretch

When we sit for extended periods of time, our hip flexors and outer hips are passively shortened. This simple lunge shape can help to stretch your hip flexors and outer hips after sitting all day long. Also, by adding a gentle twist, this pose helps to mobilize your spine as well.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants twisting in a lunge and stretching her quads on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips slightly forward of your knees
  • Step your right foot forward and place it on the outside of your right hand next to your pinky finger
  • Option to keep your whole right foot grounded to the floor or roll to the pinky side of your foot as you externally rotate your hip
  • Lean the weight of your torso forward toward the top of your mat 
  • Soften the weight of your pelvis toward the floor
  • Twist your torso to face toward the right and reach your right arm toward the back of your mat
  • Bend your left knee and draw your heel toward your seat
  • Either loop a strap around your left foot or hold onto it with your right hand
  • Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths and then switch sides

Undo the effects of sitting all day with this Feel Good Slow Flow

2. Half Splits

A huge component of counteracting the effects of sitting all day is learning which muscles tend to bear the brunt of a sedentary lifestyle. The hamstrings are definitely victims in the sitting saga so postures like half splits are great to gently release them after a full day of sitting.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants folding forward into half splits on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees
  • Step your right foot forward and place it between your hands next to your right thumb
  • Either place your hands onto blocks framing out your front foot or rise to your fingertips
  • Flex your right ankle and draw your toes back toward your face
  • Slide your right heel forward and straighten your leg as much as you comfortably can
  • Root your right heel firmly into the mat and energetically scissor your legs toward each other to square your hips forward
  • Elongate your spine by reaching the crown of your head and your tailbone in opposite directions
  • Option to stay as you are or lead with your chest to fold forward over your front leg
  • Hold for about five to 10 deep breaths and then switch sides

3. Sphinx Pose

When sitting all day, our backs absorb a lot of the negative effects. A great way to counteract our tendency to hunch forward and slouch in our seats is to gently backbend—to move the whole spine in the complete opposite direction.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants on her belly in the backbend sphinx pose on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Start lying on your belly with your feet roughly hip-distance apart 
  • Lift your head and chest and slide your elbows directly underneath or slightly forward of your shoulders with your forearms roughly parallel
  • Press your pubic bone into the floor and elongate your spine
  • Broaden your chest and draw your shoulder blades toward each other
  • Root down into your forearms to expand your heart center forward toward the top of your mat
  • Hold for about five to 25 deep breaths

Struggle with back pain? Practice Restorative Yoga for Back Pain

4. Pigeon Pose

When it comes to yoga for sitting all day, our hips definitely need some gentle release. Our glutes and deeper hip rotators don’t get much action when we literally sit on them all day, so gently mobilizing them in our yoga practice can help to bring some relief.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants folding forward into pigeon pose on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees
  • Reach your right knee forward to the outside of your right wrist and slide your right foot toward your left wrist as far as you comfortably can
  • Tuck your back toes under and slowly glide your left knee down the mat behind you
  • Option to sit onto a prop or release your hips toward the floor
  • Energetically scissor your legs toward each other to square your hips forward 
  • Lift and lengthen your whole back body
  • Either stay lifted, or lead with your chest as you fold forward over your front leg
  • Option to rest over a bolster, pillow, or blocks or to stack your hands on top of each other and rest your forehead on them
  • Hold for about five to 25 breaths and then switch sides

Love yin poses like this? Check out: What Is Yin Yoga? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About This Practice

5. Supported Fish

Another great yoga pose to help counteract the effects of sitting all day is supported fish. This posture gently opens your abdomen, chest, shoulders, and neck after a long day of sitting.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants laying back over yoga blocks into supported fish pose on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Place two blocks on their lowest height setting lengthwise toward the top of your mat
  • Come to sit in front of them and bend your knees to place your feet flat on the floor
  • Walk your feet out as wide as your mat and knock your knees in toward each other
  • Lay back over your blocks and readjust them so that the first block supports directly underneath your shoulder blades and the second block supports your head
  • Option to keep the blocks as they are or raise their height for a deeper backbend
  • Release your arms into any position of comfort—you may wish to release them by your sides, rest them on your belly, open them out wide into a T shape, or reach them up over your head
  • Allow your chest to expand and open toward the sky
  • Option to keep your legs as they are or stretch and straighten them forward
  • Soften into this shape for about one to five minutes

Craving more backbends? Practice Open Heart

6. Supported Savasana

The effects of sitting all day don’t only affect our physical body; they also affect our mind. Taking the time to support yourself in a meditative posture may be one of the most influential things you can do to counter the effects of sitting all day.

This gentle pose also elevates your legs to help gently relax any tension in your lower back.

Yoga teacher in black tank top and red yoga pants laying down with her feet on a yoga bolster on a black yoga mat in front of a piano, beige wall, stack of suitcases, and green palm tree

To Practice:

  • Place two blocks on their medium height setting at the bottom of your mat 
  • Rest your bolster or pillow over the blocks to create an elevated structure
  • Elevate your ankles and feet onto the structure and lie down with your feet lifted
  • Release your arms by your sides and turn your palms to face the sky to soften your shoulders
  • Surrender the weight of your lower back toward the floor
  • Close your eyes and deepen your breath as you draw your awareness inward
  • Relax into this shape for about five to 10 minutes

Ready for bed now? Use This FREE Guided Yoga Nidra Practice to Find Deep, Restful Sleep

The Takeaway on Yoga for Sitting All Day: To Counteract the Effects of Sitting All Day, Simply Sit Less!

While practicing these six yoga poses is an excellent start, the truth is that you’re going to have to do more than a few minutes of yoga to counter the negative effects of sitting all day.

Ultimately, you have to sit less and move your body more. This may seem like ridiculously simple advice, but it really is magical what happens to your body when you move it the way it wants to be moved.

From a biological perspective, we didn’t evolve to live such sedentary lives—and, let’s face it, being sedentary isn’t doing us any favors. So get up off the couch. Put your cell phone down. Stop scrolling. And move your body freely.

We didn’t evolve to live such sedentary lives.

Whether you practice yoga, go for a run, or dance wildly, movement is truly modern medicine. So keep moving your body and you may find your aches and pains magically start to disappear. You may find that you have more energy. And you just may find that you feel happier too.

Sitting too much can seriously become poisonous to every system in your body. So sit less and move more. At least give it a try—you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Ready to work on your nervous system next? This Simple Breath Practice Is Scientifically Proven to Calm Your Mind

Curious to Learn More About Asana and the Muscular System?

Aerial view of a white sand beach with turquoise waters surrounded by cliffs covered with green plants

Take a transformational journey in to the world of yoga with a Nomad Yoga 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, and Yin yoga. Through extensive study of asana, alignment, anatomy, and biomechanics, you'll graduate feeling confident and ready to teach!

You might also like

This Simple Breath Practice Is Scientifically Proven to Calm Your Mind

By Nomad Yoga

Join Leah's Mailing List and Get a FREE Master Crow Pose eBook