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Top 20 Beginner Seated Yoga Poses for Flexibility and Spinal Health (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Seated Side Bend Parshva Sukhasana

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Seated yoga poses are great for all levels of yoga practitioners, from beginners to advanced, and can be supported by props to help with safe alignment. These poses include forward folds, twists, straight and cross-legged postures. You can do them either on the floor, a yoga mat, or a chair – making them highly accessible for most situations and places.

Most seated yoga poses target the hips, lower body, and core. But there are several that also help to open up the chest, shoulders, and arms.

In this article, we will go through the top 20 seated yoga poses for

  1. Hip opening
  2. Better posture
  3. Improving spinal flexibility
  4. Increasing lower body mobility

Just remember that if you are new to yoga, it is best to seek the guidance of your health professional before starting.

And if you are ready, let’s get started.

Top 20 Beginner SEated Yoga Poses

Best seated yoga poses for hip flexibility

1. Easy Pose

Easy Pose Sukhasana
Sanskrit name

Sukhasana

About the pose

Easy Pose or Sukhasana is usually the starting point of many yoga and meditation practices. It is a foundational seated yoga posture

Although a very basic posture, Easy Pose is especially beneficial for people with tight hips. 

For those of you who are always sitting on a chair, come down to the floor a few times a day and sit in Easy Pose. This can be very helpful for hip flexibility and spinal alignment.

Step by step instructions
  • Start by sitting on a mat or floor, making sure that your sitting bones are grounded
  • It may be helpful to sit on a block, or a thickly folded blanket to elevate your hips
  • Cross your shins and come to a simple cross-legged position
  • Press your sitting bones down, inhale and extend your spine up
  • Relax your shoulders, pulling them away from the ears
  • Place your hands on your lap with palms down or up
  • Hold here for 5-10 breaths before switching legs
  • Try to switch the cross of your legs each time you come into the pose.
Benefits
  • Increases hip mobility and flexibility
  • Strengthens the back
  • Calms the mind and is a great pose to use for meditation or breathing exercises
Contraindications
  • If you have a knee injury and you feel restriction or sensitivity in this pose, it’s best to avoid this pose for the time being. Sit with your legs outstretched as an alternative, or on a chair.
  • Check if you are rounding in your lower back. If so, sit up on something so you can bring your hips higher than your knees and press the sit bones actively down.
Modifications
  • Sit on a yoga block or a thick folded up blanket to elevate your hips above your knees

2. Accomplished pose

Accomplished Pose Siddhasana
Sanskrit name

Siddhasana

About the pose

Accomplished pose, also known as Siddhasana in Sanskrit is a beginner-level yoga position similar to Easy Pose. Siddha means perfect or accomplished, and asana means pose.

Besides strengthening your core, improving your posture, and lengthening your spine, Siddhasana is a great pose to open your hips, chest, and shoulders.

It is an ideal position for people who tend to get pins and needles when sitting in a simple cross-legged position, as your legs are not stacked above each other, allowing for better blood circulation.

Step by step instructions
  • Start by sitting on a mat or floor, making sure that your sitting bones are grounded
  • It may be helpful to sit on a block, or a thickly folded blanket to elevate your hips
  • Cross your legs, placing one foot closer to your inner thigh and the second foot in front of the first, so that both feet are almost at your midline
  • Press your sitting bones down, inhale and extend your spine up
  • Try to keep your knees down but do not force them
  • Relax your shoulders, pulling them away from the ears
  • Place your hands on your lap with palms down or up
  • Hold here for 5-10 breaths before switching legs
  • Try to switch the cross of your legs each time you come into the pose.
Benefits
  • Hip opener
  • Improves posture and core strength
  • Calms the mind and is a great pose to use for meditation or breathing exercises
Contraindications
  • If you have a knee injury and you feel restriction or sensitivity in this pose, it’s best to avoid this pose for the time being. Sit with your legs outstretched as an alternative, or on a chair.
  • Check if you are rounding in your lower back. If so, sit up on something so you can bring your hips higher than your knees and press the sit bones actively down.
Modifications
  • If you cannot get your knees in a comfortable position, sit on a folded blanket or yoga block to relieve pressure on your hips and knees

3. Seated Wide-Legged Straddle (Beginner Variation)

Seated Wide Legged Straddle Pose Upavistha Konasana
Sanskrit name

Upavistha Konasana

About the pose

Upavistha means sitting, kona means angle and asana means posture. Typically the seated side-legged straddle pose is done with a forward fold, but this is for the intermediate practitioner. For the beginner variation, we will stay upright.

Even in the beginner version, the pose is great for opening the hips. It also works the core and you engage your mid-body to lift the spine upwards and maintain your balance.

Step by step instructions
  • Sit tall with your legs extended in front of you
  • Open your legs wide, but keep them at an angle that doesn’t cause pain or strain. 90 degrees is a good starting point
  • Flex your feet and kneecap, pointing them directly up to the ceiling
  • Stay here and breathe for 8 to 10 breaths, making sure that you continue to sit tall
  • Try different variations below if you prefer a challenge
Benefits
  • Opens the hips and pelvic area
  • Strengthens the core
  • Stretches the hamstrings and calves
Contraindications
  • People with tight hamstrings or knee issues should bend their knees during practice
Modifications
  • Bend your knees to relieve pressure on the knees and hamstrings
Variations
  • Want a more challenging version of Upavistha Konasana? Try folding forward, extending the spine when you inhale, and deepening the pose when you exhale
  • Forward fold your body onto blankets or blocks for a more supported yet similarly effective variation
  • Do a side bend variation by inhaling and raising your arms overhead, then exhale to bend at the hips, bringing your body and arms one of your legs. Repeat on the other side

4. Cobbler’s Pose

Cobbler Butterfly Pose Baddha Konasana
Sanskrit name

Baddha Konasana

About the pose

Cobbler’s Pose or Baddha Konasana in Sanskrit is also known as Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose. It is a good basic stretch that almost anyone can do. It strongly opens up the adductor muscles of the inner thighs, helping anyone with tight hips to gain flexibility in the area.

The pose also tones the entire pelvic region by working the perineal floor.

PS. Cobbler’s pose is a great one to do during your period as it helps to alleviate symptoms of cramps.

Step by step instructions
  • Come into a seated position, bend the knees to the side and bring the soles of your feet together
  • Draw your feet toward the body, and bring your heels close to the perineum
  • If you find that your knees lifted, place blocks or a thickly folded blanket beneath them to support them
  • Hold on the outside of your feet, ground your sitting bones, lengthen your spine and lift your heart as you inhale
  • Focus on breathing into any tension around the inner thighs, allowing your groins and hips to soften with each exhale
  • Stay for 8-10 breaths
Benefits
  • Increases hip mobility
  • Stretches the inner thighs
  • Grounding
Contraindications
  • Avoid this pose if you have a knee or groin injury, or experience pain while doing the pose
Modifications
  • Sit on a yoga block, cushion, or a thick blanket to encourage your pelvis to tilt forward
  • If your knees are lifted, place blocks under them to keep them supported
Variations
  • If your hips are open, you may try folding forward from the hips. Keep your spine long and your shoulders away from the ears. Bring your forehead as close to the floor as possible
  • In the Yin yoga variation, the feet are further away from the body to form a diamond shape. Fold from the hips and allow your back to round. Rest with your forehead on the floor or forearms to the mat for 1-5 minutes

5. Cow Face Pose

Cow Face Pose Gomukhasana
Sanskrit name

Gomukhasana

About the pose

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) is a seated hip-opening yoga pose that resembles a cow’s face: the elbows represent the cow’s ears, and the legs stacked on top of each other resemble the cow’s mouth.

Cow Face Pose is different from the typical hip openers in that the legs are not positioned wide apart but are brought together.

Step by step instructions
  • Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
  • Bend the right knee and place the foot on the ground
  • Bring your left foot under the right knee and finally outside of your right hip
  • Then bring your right foot to the outside of your left hip, so that your right knee is stacked on top of your left knee
  • Ground onto your sitting bones, lengthening your spine as you sit upright
  • Inhale to extend both arms to the side, palms facing forward
  • Internally rotate your right shoulder, letting the palm face behind with the thumb down
  • Bring your right hand behind your back now, as far up the shoulder blades as possible, palm facing outwards
  • Stretch the left arm up then bend at the elbow to reach down between your shoulder blades
  • Let the left and right hand meet if possible, otherwise, simply try to reach both palms as close as possible
  • Open your chest, keep your neck neutral and not bent forward, and feel your triceps and hips getting a good stretch
  • Stay for 8-10 breaths
  • To exit the pose, release your arms and uncross the legs. Repeat on the other side
Benefits
  • Stretches the hips, shoulders, arms, upper back, and chest
  • Corrects the posture
  • Balances the whole body’s flexibility
  • Great counterpose for people who sit all-day
  • Helps with knee pain
  • Calms the mind
Contraindications
  • Sciatica: use a block or blanket under the hips. Do not fold forward.
  • Knee, neck, or shoulder problems: Avoid this pose
  • Pregnancy: Do not fold forward during the first trimester
  • Spinal herniations
Modifications and variations
  • Sit on a folded blanket or yoga block if your sitting bones are not both resting on the floor
  • If your fingers do not meet, hold a strap or towel and try to walk your fingers closer to each other with it
  • Fold forward to intensify the stretch

6. Garland Pose

Garland Pose Malasana
Sanskrit name

Malasana

About the pose

Garland Pose (Malasana) is a deep squat that opens your hips and groin. It is a great pose to counterbalance the tight muscles you may get from sitting for long periods.

Malasana can be very accessible to some people, especially Asians where squatting is considered a common practice for daily living. However, it can be uncomfortable for many, which is why it is important to try different variations and adjustments to reap the most benefits.

Step by step instructions
  • Stand with your feet about mat width apart
  • Bend your knees and lower your hips toward the floor, coming into a squat
  • Inhale to lengthen your body, exhale and lean your torso forward
  • Bring your elbows to rest against your inner thighs, palms coming together in prayer (Anjali Mudra)
  • Press your elbows into your knees and allow your chest to lift further
  • Keep your spine straight, your shoulders relaxed away from your ears and hips toward the floor
  • Your feet will want to turn outward, and that’s okay. But eventually, you’ll want to work on having your toes pointing forward.
  • Stay for 8-10 breaths
  • To exit the pose, straighten your legs and return to standing
Benefits
  • Stretches the hips and groins
  • Strengthens the feet and ankles
  • Tones the core
  • Stretches the lumbar spine and spinal column
  • Grounds and calms the mind
  • Aids indigestion
  • Reliefs discomfort from menstruation
Contraindications
  • If you suffer from lower back, hip, ankle, or knee pain, please consult your medical provider for advice or avoid it altogether
Modifications
  • Use a block: Place a block under your hips and sit on it to allow yourself to balance and ground better
  • Use a wall: Lie down with your hip touching the wall, and your feet raised. Slowly walk your feet down and bring the knees to your chest. Open your knees wide toward your armpits and come into reclined Malasana with your feet planted on the wall.
Variations
  • If your feet are already parallel, try to bring them closer together
  • Release the support of your elbows inside your knees, and try to maintain the separation of the knees and long spine
  • To go further, reach your arms forward, bring your torso even further front and press your inner thighs against it. Wrap your legs with your arms and clasp your ankles or heels.

7. Deer Pose or Modified Pigeon Pose

Deer Pose Mrigasana
Sanskrit name

Mrigasana

About the pose

Pigeon Pose is a deep hip opener that offers multiple benefits for people who suffer from tight hips, lower back pain, or sciatica, or are generally tense from sitting too much.

However, Pigeon Pose requires great hip flexibility and may not be suitable for beginners. Instead, I usually recommend students to try out Deer Pose, a less intense alternative with similar benefits, before working their way up to Pigeon Pose.

Deer pose is a good hip opener and is suited for women who are pregnant or about to be due.

Step by step instructions
  • Sit in Cobbler’s Pose
  • Swing your left leg behind you, allowing the leg to stay in a bend
  • Traditionally each leg will be at a 90-degree angle, but you can reduce the angle if you’re still new to the pose
  • Ensure your knee stays comfortable
  • For a more intense stretch, move one or both feet further from the hips
  • Let your upper body stay upright, or you can fold over your front leg or slightly diagonal towards your left
  • Hold for 10 breaths or up to 5 min
  • Release and switch sides
Benefits
  • Stretches the back, piriformis, hips
  • Increases range of motion, both internal and external rotations
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves posture
  • Alleviates compression of sciatica nerves
  • Reduces stiffness due to sitting or emotional tension
Contraindications
  • Avoid in case of knee injury or surgery
Modifications
  • Place a cushion or block under the front hip to make this more comfortable
  • If the front knee lifts, place a rolled-up towel or folded blanket underneath for support
Variations
  • If you want a more challenging pose, come straight into Pigeon Pose by straightening your hind leg and grounding both hips to the floor

8. Seated Figure 4 Pose

Seated Figure 4 Pose Eka Pada Utkatasana
Sanskrit name

Eka Pada Utkatasana

About the pose

Figure 4 pose helps to improve flexibility and mobility and your hips, glutes, and piriformis. It helps to improve core strength and balance and also activates the hamstrings and quads at the same time.

This pose can be done seated, standing, or lying down, which is why it is accessible to most people.

Seated Figure 4 pose is ideal for people who are advised not to lie flat on their backs (like pregnant women), or for people who do not yet have the strength to balance in the standing variation. Do this anytime you feel tightness in your hips, but ideally after a warm-up as it can get quite intense.

Step by step instructions
  • Sit up tall on a chair or floor
  • Plant both feet hip-width apart on the ground
  • Lengthen your torso, engage your core and pull your shoulders back and down
  • Cross your right leg over the left thigh, placing the right shin above your left knee
  • Use your right hand to push the right knee slightly outward, so that it opens up more
  • If you can go deeper, fold forward from the hip to bring your torso closer to your thighs. Make sure to keep your spine long as you do so
  • Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides
Benefits
  • Keeps the glutes and hips mobile
  • Reduces compression of the sciatic nerve by stretching the piriformis
Contraindications
  • If you have a recent injury or surgery to your hips or legs, talk to your doctor to make sure you can do the pose before trying
Modifications
  • Do this pose lying down if you find it difficult to hold

9. Half Lotus Pose

Half Lotus Pose Ardha Padmasana
Sanskrit name

Ardha Padmasana

About the pose

Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana) is a variation of the traditional seated meditation posture, Lotus Pose that is more suitable for beginners or those with less flexibility in the lower body.

For people completely new to yoga, try to practice the other hip opening poses and only attempt Half Lotus when you feel that Easy Pose is comfortable for you.

It is best to do Half Lotus at the end of a yoga practice when you are fully warmed up.

Step by step instructions
  • Sit on the floor in Staff Pose, spine straight and hands resting on the floor by the hips
  • Bend your right knee and hug it to the chest
  • Bring your right ankle towards the crease of the left hip, allowing the sole of the right foot to face upwards
  • Rest the top of your foot on the hip crease (or on the thigh, as close to the hip crease as you can)
  • Bend your left knee, and bring your left ankle below your right knee
  • Rest your hands on your thighs, palms facing up or down
  • Keep your spine long, close your eyes and tune inwards
  • Hold for 10 breaths or longer
  • Exit the pose by extending both legs back to Staff Pose
Benefits
  • Stretches the hips, knees, ankles, and legs
  • Improves circulation in the pelvis
  • Strengthens the back
  • Promotes good posture
  • Calms the mind
Contraindications
  • Recent or chronic knee, ankle, or hip injury
  • Tight hips, knees, or ankles: Do not force the pose, but practice modifications until your flexibility increases (see Modifications below)
Modifications
  • If Half Lotus is too challenging, keep practicing Easy Pose (Sukhasana) until you have the flexibility and strength to sit comfortably in the pose
  • If the knee of your top leg does not touch the floor, support it with a folded blanket
  • For more back support, sit with your back against a wall. Practice this modification until you have enough strength to sit away from the wall with your spine straight.
  • For people with tight hips, practice the pose sitting on a chair. Leave one foot flat on the floor, bring the opposite ankle into the hip crease of the grounded foot. Hold for 10 breaths or longer before repeating on the other side.

Best seated yoga for a better posture

10. Thunderbolt Pose

Thunderbolt Pose Vajrasana
Sanskrit name

Vajrasana

About the pose

Vajra means thunderbolt and asana means posture in Sanskrit. Thus Vajrasana means Thunderbolt pose and is a symbol of strength despite its low level of difficulty.

Vajrasana is one of the easiest yoga poses to do – it can even be done immediately aftera meal. It strengthens your digestive health, elongates your spine, improves your posture, provides strength to the body, and calms the mind.

Step by step instructions
  • Start in a kneeling position on the mat, knees, and feet together
  • Fold the knees and point the toes backward
  • Check to see that your feet are in line with the legs and not pointed inwards
  • Then sit back on your heels, resting your thighs on your calves
  • Take a moment to adjust your pelvis forward and back until you are comfortable
  • Place your hands on your thighs
  • Extend your spine and neck, and look straight, keeping your chin parallel to the floor
  • Breathe in and out slowly
  • Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths
Benefits
  • Improves posture
  • Improves digestion and relieves stomach ailments
  • Strengthens pelvic muscles
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Calms the mind
Contraindications
  • Knee problems or have recently undergone knee surgery
  • Spinal conditions, especially with the lower vertebrae
  • Intestinal ulcers or hernia
Modifications
  • For knee pain, place a folded blanket or towel across your calves behind your knees
  • For ankle pain, place a folded blanket or towel under the shins so that the toes hang off the back
  • For sitting discomfort, place a yoga block between the feet. Sit on the block to take pressure off your joints.

11. Staff Pose

Staff Pose Dandasana
Sanskrit name

Dandasana

About the pose

Staff pose or Dandasana in Sanskrit is a basic seated pose that helps to improve posture and can help you build the right alignment for other yoga poses.

Staff pose seems like an easy pose, however it requires activation of your back and shoulders, a strong posture, activation of your feet, and a lengthening of your spine to be able to hold the pose.

Alignment in Staff Pose is similar to alignment in Mountain Pose – your posture in these poses will determine the rest of your practice.

Step by step instructions
  • Sit with your legs together extended in front of you
  • Place your hands on the floor next to your hips
  • Flex your feet, drawing your toes back and engaging your thighs
  • Make sure both sitting bones are pressing to the ground
  • Draw your belly in towards the spine
  • Extend your chest away from your navel
  • Roll your shoulders back and down, drawing them away from the ear
  • The collar bones should be spread and shoulder blades pulling towards each other
  • Bring your chin back and slightly tuck it down
  • Stay for 8 to 10 breaths, keep engaging your abdominal muscles to maintain the pose
Benefits
  • Improves core stability
  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens back muscles
  • Stretches the chest and shoulders
  • Strengthens quads
  • Prepares the body for most other poses
Contraindications

No known contraindications for a normal person. However, if your back has been injured or is weak, you may want to use a wall for support

Modifications
  • Sit on a block or folded blanket to encourage you to sit with a straight back
  • Widen the feet around hips distance apart if otherwise uncomfortable
  • Slightly bend the knees if you have tight hamstrings

12. Head-to-Knee Pose

Head to Knee Pose Janu Sirsasana
Sanskrit name

Janu Sirsasana

About the pose

Janu Sirsasana, or Head-to-Knee Pose, combines a forward bend with a twist and side body stretch all at the same time.

 It is appropriate for any level, and more than just a stretch. Because you are stretching one leg at a time, the pose allows you to go a lot deeper than most forward bends. This can help to calm your mind, allowing you to learn that it is not about touching your toes, but about tuning in, slowing down, and focusing on your breath.

Practice Janu Sirsasana after a yoga practice or whenever you feel the need to reconnect with yourself.

Step by step instructions
  • Begin in Staff Pose
  • Bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot high on the inner side of your left thigh
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine
  • Exhale and bend at your hips to lean forward over your left leg
  • Walk your hands as far forward as possible, maybe even holding your foot or binding your hands around it
  • Inhale to reach your chest even further, making sure to keep your spine long
  • Exhale and revolve your right ribs toward your left knee even more
  • Hold for 8-10 breaths
  • To exit the pose, inhale and lift your chest
  • Return to Staff Pose before repeating on the other side
Benefits
  • Stretches the hips, hamstring, back of the body, and groins
  • Relieves lower back tightness and pain
  • Stimulates digestion
  • Counteracts effects of prolonged sitting
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort
  • Brings calm to the mind
Contraindications
  • Avoid this pose if you have lower back pain, or do it only with the guidance of your health professional
Modifications
  • If you round your back, sit up on a folded blanket or cushion so that your pelvis can tilt forward. Work on maintaining length in your spine. Stay upright until you feel comfortable enough to fold forward.
  • If your hamstrings are tight, try to use a strap around your extended foot, and hold on to the strap. Pull yourself forward only as much as you are comfortable without pain.
  • If you experience any knee pain, move your bent knee closer to your straight leg

13. Half Boat Pose

Half Boat Pose Ardha Navasana
Sanskrit name

Ardha Navasana

About the pose

Half Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana) is a seated balancing pose that works the hip flexors, core, and adductor muscles.

While holding the pose, only the sitting bones are touching the floor and the whole body is balanced on them with a straight spine.

Besides providing flexibility and strength to the body, it also works on improving mental health and focuses due to the need for concentration to achieve the pose.

This is a beginner variation of the full Navasana or Boat Pose, which requires much more core and thigh strength. While in Half Boat, the legs are bent, in Boat, the legs are straight and raised above the head

Step by step instructions
  • Come into a seated position with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the ground
  • Lengthen your spine, ensuring your lower back is not rounded
  • Engage your core and lean back
  • Grip the back of the legs and knees with your hands
  • Inhale to lift your feet off the ground until your shins are parallel to the ground
  • Try to find balance on your sitting bones without rounding your spine
  • Release your hands and extend your arms forward, parallel to the ground
  • Stay for 8-10 breaths
  • To exit, exhale and bring your feet and hands to the ground
Benefits
  • Strengthens the core, hip flexors, and spine
  • Stimulates the kidneys, thyroid, and digestion
  • Relieves stress
Contraindications
  • Pregnancy or menstruation
  • Asthma or diarrhea
  • Neck, back, hip, knee, ankle injuries
Modifications
  • Difficulty balancing – place your feet on a wall to reduce the need to over-engage your core and back for balance. Alternatively, place your hands on the floor beside your hips to support your balance instead of having them extended forward.
  • Rounded back – sit on a folded blanket to provide more stability while preventing slouching
Variations
  • Half Boat with arms overhead: Instead of extending your arms forward, try to lift them overhead and point the fingers towards the ceiling.
  • Full Boat Pose: Straighten the legs to make a V shape with the body
  • One-legged Boat Pose: Straighten one leg at a time. This helps you work towards a full Boat Pose if it is still too difficult.

Best seated yoga for spinal flexibility

14. Seated side bend

Seated Side Bend Parshva Sukhasana
Sanskrit name

Parshva Sukhasana

About the pose

Seated Sideband is a beginner yoga pose that improves spinal mobility, opens up the hips, and stretches the entire side body.

It helps to bring balance to the body and allows us to breathe deeper by opening up the ribcage and lungs. Hence it can help relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions such as allergies or colds.

Great for people who sit a lot or tend to slouch, as the pose stretches all the muscles that tighten while we are sedentary.

Step by step instructions
  • Start in Easy Pose
  • Place your left hand on the floor, walking it as far away from your body as possible
  • Bend your elbow slightly
  • Inhale to reach your right hand up and extend your spine
  • Exhale and lean to the left side
  • Make sure to ground down both sitting bones
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Keep working on lifting your heart to the ceiling and lifting to the left without sinking
  • with your elbow slightly bent.
  • To come out, take an inhalation and return to the center with both hands resting on the knees.
  • Hold for 8-10 breaths
  • Repeat on the other side
Benefits
  • Improves posture
  • Enhances spinal mobility
  • Stretches the obliques, intercostals, lats, serratus anterior, shoulders, and triceps
  • Opens the hips
Contraindications
  • Severe knee, shoulder, back, or neck pain
  • Sciatica
Modifications
  • Similar to Easy Pose, if you are unable to sit cross-legged with your spine straight, you can sit on a yoga block or folded blanket to allow your hips to be higher than your knees

15. Seated spinal twist

Seated Spinal Twist Parivrtta Sukhasana
Sanskrit name

Parivrtta Sukhasana

About the pose

Parivrtta Sukhasana is derived from the Sanskrit words Parivrtta (revolve) and Sukha (ease). Hence this is the revolved version of Easy Pose.

Beyond opening the hips as in Easy Pose, Parivrtta Sukhasana helps to improve spinal flexibility and opens the shoulders. It is a great basic pose to do if you are feeling stiff, tense, or stressed.

Step by step instructions
  • Start in Easy Pose with your back straight and arms relaxed
  • Inhale and raise both arms to the ceiling, extending your spine
  • Exhale to bring your right hand to the left knee while twisting your torso to the left
  • Place your left hand on the floor behind you, making sure not to sink into it but keep lifting the spine
  • Keep your bodyweight equally between both sitting bones
  • With every, inhale lengthen the spine, and with every exhale twist deeper without forcing yourself
  • Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths before switching sides
Benefits
  • Increase the flexibility of the upper back and spine.
  • Stretches the upper chest, neck, and shoulders.
  • Opens up the hips
  • Massages the abdominal organs including the liver and kidneys
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
Contraindications
  • Those with back injury, arthritis or scoliosis should seek the advice of your health professional before doing this pose
Modifications
  • If you are unable to twist without rounding your lower back, reduce the angle of your twist and/or sit on a thick blanket or block to elevate your hips

16. Seated cat and cow

Seated Cat Cow Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana

Sanskrit name

Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana

About the pose

In Sanskrit, Upavistha means seated, Bitil means cow, and Marjay means cat.

Hence, this is a seated variation of Cat and Cow pose that is gentler on the joints and suitable for seniors and beginners alike.

Seated Cat and Cow is considered a warm-up pose that helps to loosen up the spine and prepares the body for more challenging poses subsequently. It can also be done after a yoga class, helping to restore the back and relax the mind after a practice of intense poses.

Instructions for this pose are the same as that of Cat-Cow Pose (Bitilasana to Marjaryasana).

Step by step instructions
  • Sit on a chair, or come to the mat in Easy Pose
  • If you are on a chair, ensure that your feet are flat on the floor and legs are 90 degrees
  • Sit up tall, lengthening your spine
  • Place your hands on your knees
  • Take an inhale, arch your back, sending your heart forward and pulling your tailbone back. Allow your belly to move forward, relax your jaws and shoulders. Look ahead or upward. This is Seated Cow Pose.
  • Exhale to round your back, pull your abdominals into your spine, tuck your tailbone under and your chin to your chest. Use your arms to push against the knees, allowing your midback to round even more. This is Seated Cat Pose.
  • Repeat this motion as many times as you need, inhaling to Cat and exhaling to Cow
  • Do this anytime you need a quick energy booster
Benefits
  • Stretches the spine, back, shoulders and neck
  • Opens the chest
  • Stretches and tones the abdomen
  • Encourages deep breathing
  • Calms the mind
Variations
  • Try to play around with the positioning of the lower body. You can do Seated Cat and Cow in Thunderbolt Pose, Accomplished Pose, or even with both feet and hips on the ground. Have fun trying out different ways of doing it

17. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Half Lord of the Fishes Ardha Matsyendrasana
Sanskrit name

Ardha Matsyendrasana

About the pose

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is also called the Seated Twist Pose. It is a deep twist that is both restorative and energizing.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose nourishes the spine, improves circulation, helps with digestion, and lengthens your entire body. It is a great one to do whenever you need to relieve tension in your spine.

Step by step instructions
  • Begin in Staff Pose with your legs in front of you
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the outside of your left knee or thigh
  • Bend your left leg and shift the left foot to the outside of your right hip
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to ground down both sitting bones
  • Inhale again, extending your left arm
  • Exhale to twist to the right, bringing your right hand behind you and hugging your right knee with your left arm
  • To go deeper into the twist, hook your elbow behind your left knee
  • Lengthen your spine with each inhale, and deepen the twist with each exhale
  • Hold for 5-8 breaths
  • To come out of the pose, exit the twist with an exhale and return to Staff Pose
  • Repeat on the other side
Benefits
  • Stretches the side body, upper back, and neck
  • Improves spinal mobility
  • Stimulates the abdominal area to help with digestion, circulation, and detoxification
  • Relieves backache and tension
Contraindications
  • If you have had a spinal injury, avoid this pose or practice under the supervision of your health professional
Modifications
  • If you are unable to ground down both sitting bones or find that your lower back is rounding, sit on a cushion or blanket instead. Ensure that your spine is always long.
  • You can also try the pose without bending the lower leg, keep it extended as in staff pose. This can help if you find grounding both sitting bones challenging.

Best seated yoga for lower body mobility

18. Seated Forward Bend

Seated Forward Bend Paschimottanasana
Sanskrit name

Paschimottanasana

About the pose

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottasana) is a basic yoga pose that extends the top half of the body over the seated lower half to stretch the entire posterior area of the body.

It is also a great pose tune inwards and allows calmness to return to the body.

Forward bends are great for people who sit or exercise a lot – Seated Forward Bend helps to counter the inflexibility that comes with them.

Step by step instructions
  • Start in Staff Pose, flexing the feet and pressing the heels away from the body
  • Press the palms on the floor beside the hips
  • Inhale to lengthen the body and raise both arms to the sky
  • Exhale and lean forward from the hips, folding toward your legs while keeping the back long without rounding
  • Go only as far forward as your back allows, walking your hands as close to the feet as possible
  • With each inhalation, lift and lengthen your front body slightly, and with each exhalation release your body a little more into the bend
  • If you can reach your feet, hold the tops of the feet or catch your wrist while wrapping your hands around the feet
  • Stay in the pose for 8-10 breaths
  • To exit the pose, release your feet. Inhale and lift your body, and return to Staff Pose
Benefits
  • Stretches the hamstrings and spine
  • Stretches the shoulders
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Improves digestion
Contraindications and modifications
  • 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy,
  • Back injury or herniated discs
  • Lower back pain: Keep the spine long, never round it
  • Neck pain: Keep the neck neutral and long, don’t collapse it to the ground
  • Knee pain: Pad the knees with cushions or folded blankets
  • Hamstring inflexibility: Do not force into the pose, use a yoga strap around your feet and hold it with both hands instead

19. Hero Pose

Hero Virasana
Sanskrit name

Virasana

About the pose

Hero Pose (Virasana) is a seated pose that provides a great stretch for the quadriceps, soothing tired legs at the end of the day. It is a good alternative to Lotus pose for seated meditation or breath practices.

Virasana looks similar to Thunderbolt (Vajrasana) pose, but here, your knees are close together while the heels are outside the hips and you are sitting between your feet.

Hero Pose keeps your shoulders over your hips, helping to align your spine so that your back is less likely to ache while sitting. This pose is more accessible for most people than Easy Pose as you are not required to externally rotate your hips (which can be difficult for people who sit on chairs a lot).

Step by step instructions
  • Start in a kneeling position on the mat, knees together and thighs perpendicular to the floor
  • Bring your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips
  • Flatten the tops of your feet on the floor and align your big toes slightly toward each other
  • Exhale and sit back halfway
  • Use your hands to peel the backs of your calf muscles out to make space before sitting down fully between your feet
  • If your hips do not rest comfortably on the floor, raise them on a block or rolled towel. Ensure that both sitting bones are evenly supported
  • Turn your thighs inward and press the tops of your thighs on the floor using your hands
  • Drawdown your shoulder blades, widen your collarbones, and lift the top of your sternum
  • Draw your tailbone down as well, lengthening them into the floor
  • Stay for 8-10 breaths, or longer if you are using this for meditation
  • To exit the pose, press your hands against the floor, lift your hips slightly higher than the heels. Then cross  your ankles under your hips and sit back down with your feet and legs in front of you
  • Bounce your knees up and down as you release from this deep stretch
Benefits
  • Stretches the tops of the feet, quadriceps, ankles, and knees
  • Strengthens lower back
  • Soothes and energizes tired legs
  • A great alternative to Lotus Pose for meditation and breathwork (pranayama)
Contraindications
  • Headache: Practice this pose lying down on a pillow or bolster
  • Knee or ankle injury: Avoid this pose unless you are with an experienced instructor
  • Heart problems: Avoid this pose
  • Knee discomfort: Modify the pose by sitting on a block or rolled towel
Modifications
  • Use a towel: Roll up a towel and place it under your ankles to relieve ankle pain
  • Use blocks or thick rolled-up towels: Pad your sitting bones to elevate your hips and relieve knee and ankle pressure. It also helps you to maintain a good posture
  • If Hero pose is too challenging, you can practice this pose one leg at a time, with one leg folded back and the other straight out in front of you
Variations
  • Try reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana) if the seated version is easy for you. Lean back from seated Hero, lower your elbows, and allow yourself to lie back.

20. Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Revolved Head to Knee Pose Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Sanskrit name

Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana

About the pose

Revolved Head to Knee Pose provides a deep stretch to the side body combined with a heart opener to help you loosen those areas which generally tense up from prolonged sitting.

This pose helps to loosen up all the muscles in the back and ribs to allow for greater flexibility in the spine. Because of the heart-opening action, you will also find that you breathe better after doing Revolved Head to Knee Pose.

One of my favorite poses to do after a long day at work. It helps to relieve emotional and physical tension while energizing and calming at the same time.

Step by step instructions
  • Begin in Staff Pose
  • Open the right leg out to the side
  • Bend the left knee and bring the heel towards the groin
  • Ensure both sitting bones are grounded
  • Inhale and lengthen through the crown of your head, ensuring your spine is long and the lower back not rounded
  • Exhale and twist your upper body toward the right leg, bending from your hips and not the waist
  • Draw your ribs in and rotate your ribcage outward as you bring your right ribs closer to the right leg
  • Bring the right elbow toward the right knee or the floor
  • Raise the left arm over your head
  • Stay here or if you can, reach for your right foot with both hands
  • Look up, shine your chest towards the ceiling, and keep your spine long
  • Stay in the pose for 5-8 breaths
  • Inhale to exit the pose back to Staff Pose
  • Repeat on the other side
Benefits
  • Stretches the spine and shoulders, the intercostal muscles between the ribs on the side and back of the body
  • Stretches the hamstrings, groins, and shoulders
  • Improves digestion
Contraindications
  • Avoid this pose if you have had knee injuries or only practice under the guidance of your health professional
  • If you suffer from neck pain, look straight ahead and keep your neck neutral
Modifications
  • Sit on a folded blanket or cushion to allow your spine to lengthen with more ease
  • If your elbow doesn’t quite reach your knee yet, place your hand on a block outside of the outstretched leg
  • Bend the outstretched leg if your hamstrings are tight or use a strap around the foot to help you access the pose

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20 Best Seated Yoga Poses for Beginners
Top 20 Seated Yoga Poses for Beginners
Top 20 Beginner SEated Yoga Poses
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My name is Candy Chan. This is a blog where you can find resources for personal growth and tips to become the best version of yourself.

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