Sitting yoga poses are great for improving your flexibility. Most of these poses involve stretching muscles in the hips, back, and legs. They are often suitable for beginners, as most of the positions can be modified for different flexibility levels.
Seated poses are usually grounding and flexibility centered, compared to other poses that focus on strength. Sitting on the ground forms a stable position, allowing you to open and release the body easily, without much difficulty.
We’ve included 5 sitting yoga poses, along with their benefits, for you to practice in this pose. You’ll also find some tips for performing seated yoga poses below, which can help you if you find any of these poses difficult.
Seated Yoga Benefits
Sitting yoga positions involve improving flexibility by stretching muscles in the back, legs, and hips. It’s often easier to open up the body through these poses, as they involve sitting on the floor for stability.
This also reduces your risk of falling and improves your level of control, which is why sitting yoga poses have a lower injury risk compared to standing poses.
Though these poses are effective, some people may find them uncomfortable. If you find it hard to sit upright, try placing a yoga block, bolster, or folded blanket underneath your tailbone. Lifting your hips can help you align and keep your spine straight.
Tips For Seated Yoga Positions
Here are some tips to help you practice sitting yoga positions.
- If you feel any discomfort or pain, place a blanket beneath your ankles and knees.
- If you find it hard to stretch and bend forward, sitting on a foam yoga block or folded blanket may help.
- Keep breathing deep and comfortably as you hold these positions, especially the harder ones. Breathing ensures that your muscles receive oxygenated blood, which can help reduce pain later on.
- If your hamstrings are quite tight, modify the pose with a yoga strap or bent knees.
Seated Yoga Poses To Try At Home
Now that you know what the benefits of seated yoga are, let’s get into the poses!
1. Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Benefits: Raises postural awareness and opens up the shoulders, chest, and legs.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is often used as the baseline for a lot of standing yoga poses. Staff Pose can be seen as the equivalent of sitting yoga positions. It’s like a straightforward pose but involves a lot of different elements.
Follow these steps to practice Staff Pose:
- Begin sitting on the ground with your legs straight and extended in front. If you notice your spine rounding, place a prop beneath your bottom.
- Use your hands to move your buttocks to either side. Your sit bones should have a secure placement on the ground.
- Flex both of your feet to activate your leg muscles.
- Bring your navel in, drawing it towards the spine.
- Relax so your shoulders drop, away from the ears.
- Press your palms on the ground on each side, but don’t let your shoulders raise upwards. You can keep a slight bend in your elbows if you prefer.
- If your palms cannot touch the floor, keep your fingertips on the ground, but ensure that there’s lots of contact between the ground and your fingers. People all have different arm lengths, so the position will look different for everyone.
- Your neck should remain in a neutral position. Make sure your chin isn’t lifted or tucked in.
2. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)
Benefits: Stretches the calves, glutes, back, and hamstring muscles.
Yoga teachers often differ on how to practice forward fold. Some prefer to round their spine, while others prefer to keep it straight.
Rounding the spine may allow you to reach your head lower, but maintaining an upright spine is often more useful. It’s best to practice forward fold as though you are tipping your pelvis forward, not rounding your spine.
Some people prefer to keep moving forward with a flat back until they cannot move any further, then round the spine to reach lower.
This can help stretch the upper back, but for safety, only do so in a soft, relaxed, manner. Remember that as you progress, your flexibility will slowly begin to improve over time, so don’t force anything.
Follow these steps to practice Seated Forward Fold:
- Begin in Staff Pose, then raise your arms to the sky.
- As you exhale, rotate the pelvis forward to fold your torso over your legs.
- Keeping a flat back, fold down as much as you can. This may take a few breathing rounds.
- If your hands can touch your feet without rounding your spine, grip them for a nice stretch. If you cannot reach your feet, either use a strap or place your hands on each side of your legs.
- Remember to chill out and breathe, relaxing as you exhale. You won’t gain any benefits by forcing your torso nearer your legs.
3. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Benefits: Stretches the quads and the tops of your feet.
Thunderbolt pose is a nice alternative for cross-legged poses required in meditation. It also helps stretch the thighs and the tops of the feet, which are regularly overlooked.
If you plan to practice the pose for a longer period, you may want to place a blanket between your calves and bottom. Lifting your seat helps you stay in a relaxed, yet healthy, spinal position.
Follow these steps to practice Thunderbolt Pose:
- Sit kneeling on the floor. Have your buttocks resting on your heels with the tops of your feet on the ground.
- If you can, try to let the inner balls of your feet touch each other. If this causes discomfort, you can keep them separate slightly.
- Position your shoulders over your hips so your spine curves naturally.
- Maintain a neutral head position with your chin level, not raised or tucked in.
- The top of your head should raise towards the sky.
- This pose has several arm variations. The easiest is to leave your hands on your thighs. You can keep your palms facing the floor for grounding, or keep them open and facing upwards for receptivity. You can also place your hands in a prayer position in front of your heart, or behind your back to stretch the shoulders and chest.
4. Arpha Matsyendrasana (Half Lords of The Fishes Pose)
Benefits: Stretches the side, upper back, and pelvic muscles.
Before you practice spinal twists, remember that the lower (lumbar) spine’s shape and form aren’t designed to rotate. The twisting should only involve the upper and neck area of the spine. This will help avoid any injuries to the pelvis and lower back.
Follow these steps to practice Half Lords of the Fishes Pose:
- Begin cross-legged on the floor. Bring your left knee up to the center, then position your right foot’s sole flat on the ground to the side of your left thigh. Keep your right knee facing the sky.
- Breathe in and raise both arms. As you breathe out, rotate to the right. Keep your right hand on the ground behind you and your left elbow to the side of your right knee.
- Stimulate the left hand by pressing through your fingertips, then activate your right foot by pushing into the floor with your heel and toes.
- As you breathe in, extend the spine. As you breathe out, try to deepen the rotation.
- Either keep your nose aligned with your navel or gaze across your right shoulder.
- Release the stretch after 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
5. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
Benefits: Stretches the extended leg’s hamstring and the bent leg’s hip and inner thigh.
Head to Knee Pose allows you to focus on either leg separately. This usually gives you a deeper hamstring stretch compared to poses that extend both legs. This also helps open the hips and inner thighs.
Follow these steps to practice Head to Knee Pose:
- Begin in Staff Pose. Bend the left knee and position your left foot’s sole on the inside of your right thigh.
- Raise your arms above your head and flex the right foot.
- As you breathe out, start bending over your right leg, tilting your pelvis forward. Check that your torso is lowering over the right leg, instead of the area between the legs.
- Maintain a flat back as you perform the movement. It may help to think about bringing your forehead to your shin.
- As you reach your deepest stretch possible with your flat back, remain in position for a few breaths. Either grip your right foot with your hands or place your hands on the outer side of your legs.
- Breathe in as you sit up again, then repeat the steps for the opposite side.
The Bottom Line
Those were 5 sitting yoga poses that you can try at home! These can be performed anywhere, though some may prefer to use a yoga mat to avoid sitting on the floor.
These five poses are beginner friendly, though you can modify each pose with a block or yoga prop if necessary.
If you notice any pain, stop the pose immediately. You should feel a nice stretch while practicing these poses, but this should never be painful.
We hope you enjoy practicing these 5 sitting yoga poses!