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Simple yoga moves to counteract sitting

Yoga stretching is a great way to reverse the negative signs of prolonged sitting. It also helps us create healthy postural habits by: awakening sleepy, stagnant muscles and lengthening muscles that have been in shortened positions all day.

I’ve put together a sequence of four yoga postures that I find to be useful after hours of being seated. You can take time during your work day or end your day with the following sequence. Choose which positions work for you.

Keep in mind that throughout all positions, it is best to keep a slight engagement of your deep core muscles, they should be slightly activated throughout the positions. Remember to breathe, slow inhalations and exhalations will remind you to move slowly. And always listen to your body, if it’s hurting, don’t do it.


This first sequence helps to gently balance the lower back and neck while awakening the full spinal region.

Start in table top (knees and hands on the floor, with the hips above the knees and shoulders above the hands.) Point the top of your head and tip of your tailbone towards the floor, thus creating a curved spine like an angry cat, take your time and engage the opposite muscles by: pointing the top of your head and tailbone to the ceiling allowing your spine to sink down like a cow. Try doing 3 slow rounds of each.1

A woman demonstrates cat pose on all fours, on her yoga mat.

A woman demonstrates the yoga pose, cow pose, on her mat.

Child’s Pose

The second position is a gentle and supportive lower back and shoulder stretch. From table top, widen your knees and bring your bottom back towards the floor to rest between your heels. (Modification: use a pillow between your bottom and heels to create more space for your knees and back.) Reach forward with straight arms and allow your forehead to relax on the floor. this position opens your shoulders and stretches your back.2

A yoga expert demonstrates child's pose on her yoga mat.

Downward Dog

The third position is more of an active position, which is a great way to stretch without over doing it. From table top, push up so your feet and hands are on the floor, your legs and arms will now be straight with a slight bend. Like an inverted “V”, point your tailbone to the ceiling and allow your head to relax towards the floor. Keep your shoulder blades slightly engaged towards your spine. Your heels should be moving towards the floor to create a gentle stretch up the back of the legs.3

Downward dog pose as demonstrated on her mat by a yoga expert.

Upward Dog

In the 4th position, we start by resting on our bellies, with our legs length wise on the floor, push up onto your elbows and push the top of your feet to the floor creating a slight engagement in the front of the thighs. looking upwards, you should feel a stretch from the front of your hips to the front of your neck, try pushing up to straight arms if you aren’t feeling a stretch on your elbows.4

Yoga practitioner demonstrates upward dog, aka up dog, on her yoga mat.