Sitting a lot?

Do you spend a lot of hours during your day sitting? Then this might be of value for you.

When we spend hours upon hours of our day sitting down some of the muscles in our body are not being used enough. This can cause issues, such as stiffness, or even pain. It can lead to bad posture, which in itself, can also add on to the spiral of more stiffness and possibly more pain.

So what can you do about it? There are a few different things you can do, already when sitting, such as vary the way you are sitting (not using the back of your chair all the time, sitting with your legs really wide for a bit, alter which leg crosses over the other and so on), and possibly also vary what you are sitting on (some offices has those big air-filled-balls instead of chairs, or different types of back-less chairs. You can maybe elevate your desk to stand up and work for part of your day.

If you are working from home, consider sitting on the floor for a bit. I do this myself quite a lot actually.

If none of the above are applicable or interesting, (or you´re already doing all of that), but want to add a bit of yin yoga to stretch out when you come home, then the hip flexor muscle, is one of the primary ones to target. That muscle, as the name implies, help you to flex your hip, meaning, to bend your hip. But when you´re sitting all day long, you don´t use that muscle. And it can really benefit from some gentle and slow stretching.

Here are two easy poses to try at home:

Dragon, high w blocks
I suggest pad the back knee with something (double-fold the yoga mat, a blanket or similar), also, if you have blocks to put your hands on, that´s a nice way to begin the pose. If not, place both of your hands on the front thigh (see pictures below for different options).

It is the back leg, and the front part of that back hip that is the target area, so it doesn’t matter so much how you place the front leg. Come into your version of the pose, where you have a good, but not massive, stretch on the front of the hip of that back leg. Try to relax and not move around too much. If you need to change position, change, and then come back to stillness.

Recommended stay 1-3 minutes, use a timer so you don´t have to look constantly on the clock. Switch legs. And when the timer finally goes off after the second leg, come down on your back, straighten your legs and just lay down and breathe. Feel the sensation in the area.
Dragon, low w blocks under elbows
Dragon, high, forearms on thigh

Open Bridge / Supported Bridge
Open Bridge
Lay down on your back with the knees bent, feet in floor. Lift the hips up and place the block (or a firm blanket firmly rolled up) under your butt (on that triangular bone at the very end of your spine called the sacrum). You do not want to be on your spine (that´s going to be very uncomfortable). 

Lower your butt down on the block (begin on lowest setting on the block), keep your knees bent (Supported Bridge) for a couple of breaths. If that feels ok, you can begin to straighten your legs (Open Bridge). The target area of the pose is the front part of your hips, the hip flexor, which you should feel when straightening the legs. After a minute or two, if you don´t have as much sensation of the stretch, you can put the block on the second level/height, as long as you can still relax your muscles and be in stillness breathing and softening your body.

Stay 2-5 minutes in the pose, use a timer to not have to worry about the time. When the timer goes off, bent the knees, lift the hips and remove the block. Then straighten the legs along the floor and lay flat on the floor breathing for 5-10 rounds of breaths, just noticing how that area might be feeling.
Supported Bridge
The hip flexor muscle (the psoas muscle) is often involved in lower back pain, so these stretches are also a good way to hopefully prevent lower back pain from being part of your life. If you already have low back pain, be gentle when practicing, maybe reduce the amount of time you spend in the poses, and notice how you feel afterwards, both directly, and the day(s) after.

And please remember:
“If you´re feeling it, you are doing it”