We have become a very sedentary culture. Most of us spend much of work day sitting, we spend increasing amounts of time sitting in the car in traffic and commuting, and we spend more and more of our leisure time sitting in front of glowing screens. We’ve heard a lot about how this increase in sedentary behavior affects our health in decreased exercise and increased weight, but that’s not the only problem.
Our bodies really weren’t designed to spend this much time in a seated position. Sitting is actually hard on our bodies, and few of us spend the time we do sit in good seated postures. We slouch, we lean forward with rounded shoulders as we sit at the computer, we sit with our spine out of alignment. Not only is this hard on our musculoskeletal system, it also affects our ability to breathe well. We wind up taking shallower breaths that increase our stress levels and deprive our bodies and brains of the oxygen we need.
How can yoga help counteract all of these issues? A yoga practice allows the opportunity to move our bodies in ways that balance out all of the sitting we do. In addition, yoga postures can make us more aware of what proper alignment feels like, so we are more likely to remember to check our alignment as we sit during the day. We also develop a stronger ability to be aware and observant of our bodies, so we are quicker to notice our poor posture or shallow breathing so we can correct it.
The beauty of yoga is that we don’t have to wait for these benefits until we have time to do a full yoga practice on the mat. Yoga is a way of being that we can take with us even into the office. Ana Forrest shares some great ideas of simple exercises that can be done in our office chairs in her article titled How to Exercise While You Sit. Try these out and see how much better you can feel even if you can’t avoid sitting!