11 Easy Seated Yoga Poses To Help You Relax & Get A Good Stretch
Seated yoga postures are excellent for yogis of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. They include things like forward folds, twists, and cross-legged poses. Plus, you can do many of them either on the floor or in a chair, making them super convenient for whenever you need to loosen up.
Most seated poses primarily target the legs and hips as far as stretching goes, but there are a few that work the arms, chest, and shoulders, as well. As you practice these poses, consider supporting your spine with a block, blanket, or bolster underneath you, which will help lift the hips and bring the spine into alignment:
- Start in a seated position on your mat.
- Bring your hands behind your neck.
- Gently pull your head forward, to give your neck a nice stretch.
- Come back to start, and allow your head to drop back, cradling your head in your hands.
Seated side stretch
- From a seated position, bring your right hand high up overhead. You can use your left hand as support on the chair arm or your leg.
- Inhale as you stretch your arm as high up as you can, then exhale as you slowly lean over as far as you can to your left. Look up toward your hand if you can.
- Hold for three breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Seated cactus arms
- Start by sitting on your heels, with your hands on your thighs.
- Inhale as you lift your arms up overhead to the sky.
- Exhale and bend your arms to form two 90-degree angles at the sides of your body, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Inhale and return to the start.
- Repeat for three breaths.
- Come to a seated position, crossing your legs in front of you. Place your hands gently on your knees.
- Inhale as you arch your back, bringing the chest forward and lifting the gaze.
- Exhale as you round your back, contracting the core and creating space in the spine.
- Repeat for at least a minute.
Cross-legged forward fold + side stretch
- Come into a cross-legged seated position on your mat.
- Fold your torso over your legs, stretching your hands out long.
- Then, move your arms to the right side of your body for a nice stretch.
- Repeat on the left side. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Come to a seat with the legs out straight. Bring your right foot into the left thigh, then cross the left leg over the right so the left ankle is on the outside of the right knee.
- Make sure both sitz bones are on the ground, and sit up tall.
- Inhale your arms up to the sky. Take your left arm, place it on the mat behind you, and place your right hand on your left knee. Take a deep breath in.
- As you exhale, twist the body from bottom to top, gazing over your left shoulder.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds, then come back to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
Seated forward fold
- Come into a seated position on your mat, with legs stretched out long (bend your knees if needed).
- Stretch your arms overhead, then hinge at your hips and allow your arms to fold over your legs.
- Hold for a couple of breaths.
Seated one-legged forward fold
- Come to a seat on your mat. Extend your legs out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee, and bring the sole of your foot to your inner left thigh.
- Extend your arms up to the sky, then fold your torso over your legs.
- Hold for a couple of breaths, then switch legs and repeat.
- From a seated position, bring your right ankle up to your left thigh. (This can be done in a chair or on the ground.)
- To enhance the hip stretch, gently press your hand onto your right knee.
- Breathe in, then slowly fold the torso forward as far as you can over the right shin as you exhale.
- Hold for a few breaths, and repeat on the left side.
- Come into a seated position on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together, and allow your knees to fall to either side.
- Place a yoga block under your lower back and your head, and allow your body to lower down.
- Let your arms relax overhead, and hold this position for as long as you need to.
- Walk your knees toward the front of your mat.
- Keep your knees pressed together, and allow your feet to spread out wider.
- Slowly lower your seat down so it fits in between your feet.
- Stay here, or bring your forearms to the mat behind you. You can also bring your back all the way down to the mat. Do whatever feels good to you.
- Release from this pose.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.