Spine & Torso
These poses move the spine in all directions to alleviate stiffness in the back that results from long periods of sitting.
Cat/Cow Tilts in Chair
Place hands on knees.
Cat: Exhale, round back and press tail bone forward, pressing navel towards spine.
Cow: Inhale, press tail bone back towards chair and lift chest drawing shoulders back. Repeat 10 times.
Benefits: Alternately stretches and contracts muscles on front and back of torso, encourages deeper breathing.
Intense Stretch of the East Side of the Body in Chair
Sit on edge of seat holding sides of seat with both hands. Press into arms as you lift the chest and swing pelvis forward to lift off chair. Lengthen tail towards back of knees, lift the heart and keep head neutral. Hold 5 breaths, then release.
Benefits: Strengths arms, shoulders and core, stretches front body.
Bridge Pose in Chair
Sit on edge of chair seat with bolster between spine and chair back.
Variation I: Keep feet under knees and press hands into sides of chair seat, Lean back into bolster and swing hips forward. Make sure head is supported by bolster. Hold 5-10 breaths, then release.
Variation II: Press heels into fronts of chair legs to keep chair from tipping backwards. Press hands into sides of chair seat and swing hips forward leaning back against bolster. Try reaching one or both arms overhead if you feel stable.
Benefits: Strengthens quadriceps, core and stretches front body.
Chair Urdhva Dhanurasana
Upward Facing Bow in Chair
Sit on a blanket backwards through the chair with legs through space of chair back. Place tailbone at back edge of chair and feet on bolster.
Variation I: Lie back over seat so that the bottom edges of the shoulder blades are at the front edge of chair seat. Use stacked blocks under the back of the head for support. Reach arms back over the head.
Variation II: Keep legs straight and reach arms inside the front legs and hold the outside of the back legs of chair.
Variation III: Straighten legs keeping feet on bolster and reach arms back over the head.
Hold for a minimum of 10 breaths then reach for the chair back and engage belly as you pull yourself upwards sliding the hips back into the seat. Relax forward over the chair back for a few moments before coming out of the chair.
Benefits: Opens entire front of the body in a supported way.
Bharadvaja's Twist in Chair
Sit away from chair back and raise arms overhead to lengthen spine. Twist belly, ribs and chest to the right as you bring the left hand to the outside of the right knee, the right hand reaches to the back of the chair. Turn torso to the right as you turn the head back to the left and slightly drop the chin. Hold 5-10 breaths, then change sides.
Benefits: Wrings out the spine and organs.
Chair Marichyasana II
Marichy's Pose II in Chair
Cross right thigh over left. Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale bring left arm outside of right knee, right arm under chair back. Try to twist navel, ribs and chest allowing head to follow. (Hold 10 breaths each side).
Benefits: Squeezes muscles of torso and detoxifies organs.
Noose Pose in Chair
Sit away from chair back. Lean forward reaching right elbow to the outside of the left knee as you turn the belly, ribs and shoulders to the left. Bring palms together into Anjali Mudra and press right elbow against left knee, left hand against right hand to turn the torso gently deeper. Turn head to the left and align from the tailbone to the crown of the head. Keep both hips grounded into the chair. Hold 5-10 breaths, then release and change sides.
Benefits: Wrings out the spine and organs, stretches around the shoulder blades and neck.
Stand in front of the chair seat with feet wide apart.
Variation I: Bend forward and place both hands on seat of chair. As you inhale lengthen from the crown of the head to the tail bone. As you exhale bring the left hand to the hip and turn to the left. Keep the right shoulder drawn under to support the turn of the upper body. Try not to collapse the right leg as turn away from it. Inhale and return to center with both hands on the seat. Exhale repeat to the right side. Repeat 5 times with the breath.
Variation II: As you inhale lift the arms out front the shoulders. As you exhale bring left hand to the seat, twisting the torso to the right. Inhale and return to center with arms outstretched. Exhale and bring right hand to seat, turning torso to the left. Repeat 5 times with the breath.
Benefits: Strengthens core, especially the obliques.
Downward Facing Dog on Chair
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Stand facing the chair seat. Grasp the sides of the seat and step both feet back and extend the arms overhead. Heels are under the hips and heels grounded on the floor. Bend the knees if the lower back rounds, try to keep the spine extended as much as possible. Reach the arms and do not allow the head to drop below the upper arms.