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  • Writer's picturePaula Azevedo, PhD

Seated Yoga Poses for You and Your Students

We all know that sitting for a long period of time is unhealthy. Our bodies were designed to move, but this is especially a challenge when we’re teaching online. In this video I’m going to share some simple seated yoga poses you can easily incorporate throughout the day and your lessons.

I like to make sure I move the spine in all six directions and counterbalance the effects of being seated and staring at a screen for a long time on the spine and neck.


The first seated stretches I’m going to share with you are cat and cow poses. I like to combine these two poses into a dynamic flow sequence.

Make sure that your bottom is firmly on the chair and that your feet are planted on the ground. Hands flat on the tops of your thigh, spine is neutral….

Inhale- move into Cow Pose by lifting the chest and chin up - arching back, gently squeezing the shoulder blades together. You should feel a nice stretch across the chest and shoulders. This is a great stretch to do throughout the day because it’s a counterbalance to being hunched over a computer.

Exhale- move into Cat Pose by drawing the belly button in towards spine, tuck the chin to chest and round the back. This time rolling shoulders forwards. You should feel a nice stretch along your spine.

Move dynamically here in Chair Cat Cow Pose. If you’re doing these movements with your students or own kids, especially little ones you may want to include sound effects. So, when you move into cow pose you can all "Mooo" like a cow, and the same thing with cat pose you can choose to "Meow" like a cat. This will just make it a bit more fun for your elementary kids.

Remember, you can do this as many of these throughout the day since it stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, and spine this movement relieves stress. This is a safe pose, especially on the chair; however, if you have a recent spine injury or surgery you may want to avoid these poses and discuss it with your doctor before incorporating these poses.


We’re going to move the spine side to side with a seated side bend, which is a great stretch for the side body and strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. Extend your left arm and reach your left hand towards the sky, bringing your bicep close to your ear.

Inhale... reach your left arm overhead, palm facing inward,

Exhale... lean over to right side

Feeling a nice stretch along the left side of your body.

Be sure to breathe into the side body.

You can hold this pose for 3 - 5 breaths.

Flip the palm out and slowly and with control bring the left arm down.

Repeat on the other side. Extend your right arm and reach the right hand towards the sky. Palm is facing inward.

Inhale... reach your right arm overhead.

Exhale... lean over toward the left side. This time feeling a nice stretch on the right side of your body. Continue to breathe into the side body. Again, holding this pose for 3 -5 breaths.

This helps to strengthen the spine making room for space between the vertebrae. The active stretch also helps to strengthen the core muscles.

If you’ve had recent torso or spine injury or surgery be sure to check in with your doctor before doing any of these stretches.


Chair seated twists are great poses to improve the range of motion of the muscles of the spine and can help reduce heaviness and stiffness due to longer hours at the desk.

Elongate the spine. You can imagine a string on the top of your head and imagine someone is gently pulling on that string to help lengthen your spine. Be sure your bottom is glued to the seat and the four corners of your feet are firmly planted on the ground. And on the next inhale twist from the belly button up to the left placing the back of your right hand on the outside of the left thigh. Gently twist and look back over your left shoulder.

If you want to go deeper you can. Elongate the spine, inhale and twist a little more taking the hand further back on the chair. Be sure you’re able to breathe. If you feel like you’re having a hard time breathing ease out of the twist a bit, you may have gone too far. Twist only to the point that is comfortable to you. It’s possible that the more you practice these movements the deeper you’ll be able to go.

Whatever we do to one side we do to the other. So, return back to neutral, lengthen the spine and twist to the right. Taking the left hand to the outside of the right thigh. Be sure to breathe here. And, focus on drawing the shoulders back and sitting as tall as possible.

If you have any recent surgeries or injuries of the neck, shoulders, ribcage, or spine you may want to avoid these twists and consult your doctor.

These are four simple poses that keep the spine healthy even on those long workdays sitting at your desk. You can incorporate these movements throughout your day, and you can even lead your students in a mindful movement break.

If you enjoy these types of stretches you might want to check out my chair yoga video, where I take you through a 40 minute chair yoga practice. Perfect if you’re in a tight space or just need a break from your desk.



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