It's easy to get in an occasional funk no matter who you are. I always try my best to be happy and chipper, but honestly with newborn twins and a toddler and zero hours of sleep, I often find myself sinking into a bad mood. But the last thing anyone wants around is a cranky mom or yoga teacher! So what do I do when I catch myself getting down? Chair Yoga moves. I can do them between nursing, when I'm waiting to pick up my older son from school, or even on the couch. These are perfect for anyone stuck at work or a new mom like me or someone on a long, frustrating commute.
Sun salutations with twist
Yoga twists are among the best things you can do for your spine and core, which are often in compromising positions when slouched over your desk. To start, sit tall with your feet on the floor, hips toward the edge of the chair, and your back straight. Inhale, reaching your arms overhead to press your palms together. As you exhale, drop your arms down as you twist to the left, bringing your hands and arms around and behind you to the top of the chair. Inhale back to center, and repeat on your right side. Continue this flow 8 to 10 times.
This move helps to open your shoulders, upper back, elbows, and wrists. To start, sit tall with your feet hip-width apart and firmly on the floor, hips toward the edge of the chair and your back straight. Take your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms open to the ceiling. Next, wrap the left arm under the right arm as high as you can, then double cross your forearms and try to press the palms together. If you can't touch your palms, press the backs of the hands instead. Work on lifting your elbows while softening your shoulders. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths before releasing your arms and repeating with the opposite arm crossing.
Downward facing dog
Downward dog is a full-body stretch that opens your upper back, shoulders, head, neck, and legs. It also helps to refresh your mind and connect with your breath. Start by facing the back of your chair and placing your hands on the back of the chair, shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until your chest is parallel to the floor. Next, engage your abdominals as you lift your ribs away from the floor.During this phase, think about arching out of the lower back and lifting your hips up and away from your shoulders. Bend your knees to pull back even more and straighten your legs again. Hold this for 8 to 10 breaths.
Squats are great for opening up your hips and strengthening your buttocks and legs. Start at the edge of your seat with your hips in the middle of the chair. Open your legs out to the side as wide as you can, press your hands together in your heart center, and hold for 8 to 10 breaths. To advance this movement, try lifting up a few inches from your chair and holding as long as you can.
This abdominal move is awesome for working the core and literally lifts you out of your seat. The more you strengthen the abdominals, the better your posture, energy, and spine health—not to mention that fact that you'll have flatter abs. Sit at the edge of your seat and place your hands on either side of your hips. Engage your core muscles and lift your hips and feet so you hover above the chair. Release and repeat 3 to 5 more times.
These and many other moves are included in my new book, Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You! available on Amazon. It will take very little time out of your day but will boost your mood and have you feeling healthier, and happier!