What are you doing right now? It’s very likely that you are sitting somewhere as you read this. Recently on the news and in social media, there’s been a lot of talk about how much we sit as a society. In short, we sit too much and it’s pretty bad for our health. I’d like to stress that sitting isn’t altogether a bad thing, it’s just that sitting for long hours at a time is not a good thing.
As I type this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I spent the morning standing and moving as I taught my studio classes, so I’m OK with taking a load off and sitting for a while. However, after about 45 minutes, I plan to get up and do something. It might involve doing the laundry, stretching, or taking a walk around the block. I can tell you from personal experience that getting up every hour makes a huge difference in how the body handles long stretches of sitting. When I take time to move, my back doesn’t ache, my neck doesn’t get stiff, and I can focus better. That’s why I encourage all of my students, especially those who work in an office environment, to get up and move at least once an hour!
One area of the body that is crucial to move is the spine. Moving your spine will keep it healthy, supple, and happy. Think about moving it in the four following ways: twisting, side bending, backbending, & rounding. Here’s how…
Before you jump out of your chair, warm up your spine by doing a gentle twist. If your feet don’t reach the ground, place something underneath them (I’m using yoga blocks in the above pic). On an inhale, sit up nice and tall and extend through the crown of the head. On an exhale, slowly twist to one side. Feel free to place one hand on your knee and the other on the back of your chair to gently assist the twist. Don’t force it! Stay here and breathe deep for a few rounds and then switch sides.
In the above picture, I’m doing a version of cat pose with a chair. You can also do this on hands and knees, but if you are in an office environment or have certain limitations, you might prefer to stand. If that is the case, find a chair for support and stand about an arm’s length away from it. Bend your knees slightly and begin to round your back by drawing your belly in, tucking your chin, and drawing your tailbone underneath your pelvis. Stay here for a few breathes and then slowly release.
From the same standing position, move into cow pose by bringing your spine in the opposite direction. Lift your gaze and stick your tailbone out as you gently press your chest forward. Stay here for a few breathes, and keep your knees soft (i.e. not locked). If you low back begins to bother you, decrease the backbend or come out of the pose altogether.
Turn to one side with one hand on the back of the chair for support. On an inhale, stand up tall and lift your opposite arm alongside your ear. On an exhale, begin to side-bend towards the chair and reach through your fingertips. Stay for a few breathes, and then move onto the other side.
Once you’ve completed these movements, stand for a few moments and notice how you feel. Take a short walk or just take some deep breathes. Don’t be in a rush to sit back down, and remember to get up and move at least once an hour. Thanks for reading!