By sitting for long hours you are likely to experience other health issues such as poor posture, obesity, heart disease, diabetes neck strain, hunched back, back pain and even brain damage. More surprisingly, you even increase the chances of lung cancer by 54 percent, colon cancer by 30 percent and uterine cancer by a whopping 66 percent.
Doing regular exercise may not completely protect you or counter the negative effects caused by prolonged sitting. But the good news is other studies show that yoga can improve your health and counter the negative effects caused by endless sitting. It can reduce glucose levels, increase memory and overall brain function, as well as improve cardiovascular health. In addition, yoga can even lower the risk of cancer and improve the success rate of cancer survivors.
Want to know where to start? Here are 5 of the best yoga poses that will help you counter the negative effects of sitting all day at work:
Mountain pose is one of the simplest and most effective yoga exercises as it can greatly improve your overall posture and stability. It helps to open your chest and stretch your back as well as your legs. Mountain pose is great for releasing the pressure of scrunching over your keyboard all day.
Start by standing in a comfortable position. With your legs hip-width apart, bring your hands up over your head. With your palms facing forward and your thumbs hooked, bent gently backward as you breathe.
Standing forward fold
From the mountain pose, exhale forward and stand with your hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints. Bend your knees and draw the front torso out of the groins and open the space between the pubis and sternum. Bring your palms or fingers flat to the floor or behind your ankles. Press your heels firmly into the floor and lift your hips upward so you can feel your spine stretch in the opposite direction.
As you inhale, slightly lift and lengthen the front torso. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To release the pose, don’t roll the spine to come up. Instead, bring your hands back on to your hips and bring your torso back into a mountain pose.
This pose is best known for its ability to increase the flexibility of the spine. It is a great pose for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting down as it helps in stretching the lower back and relieves back pain.
Cobra pose helps to open the lungs and stretch the chest while strengthening the shoulders and the spine. Begin by lying face-down with your stomach flat on the floor and your legs extended behind you. Make sure your legs are spread a few inches apart and avoid tucking your toes as this can crunch your spine.
Place your palms on your shoulders and hug your elbows on to the sides of your body. Inhale as you gently lift your head and chest off the floor and press the top of your thighs down firmly on to the floor. Try to hold the pose for 30 seconds. As you release the pose, exhale and gently go back to the floor.
Downward facing dog
Start out on the floor with your hands and knees. Set your knees directly under your hips and your wrists slightly forward off your shoulders. Spread your palms and fingers down with your index fingers parallel and tuck your toes under with your feet hip distance apart. As you exhale, lift your knees away from the floor and lift your hips back and up to push yourself back into an upside down V-pose.
At first, you can keep your knees slightly bent but you will need to straighten your legs as you progress in your yoga practice. Press your upper arms towards each other and align with your ears while keeping your shoulder blades down along your spine. Stay in this pose from anywhere between 1 to 3 minutes or hold for 5-100 breaths.
This pose relaxes your neck muscles and improves your posture. Start by lying on your belly. Exhale and reach back with your hands to take hold of your ankles. Bend your knees bringing them as close to your buttocks as you can. Stay in this pose for 20 to 30 seconds.
Back pain is inevitable as you may not have other option but sitting all day at your job. But through yoga, you can definitely recover those stiff muscles and keep a healthy spine. Even if you’ve gained weight due to sitting down 12 hours a day, you could use some of the above yoga poses to keep fit.
Don’t have much time to do a complete yoga sequence? Start with just one yoga pose after work! The downward facing dog is the ideal posture since it stretches and strengthens many parts of your body. You know what they say, a downward dog a day keeps the doctor away.
Want to take longer vacations and give a good break to your back? Go on a luxury yoga holiday and let yourself be pampered the way you deserve!