By Merrell Readman
mbg Associate Food & Health Editor
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career.
When you’re working at a desk all day, it’s quite likely you’ll experience some level of discomfort in your body over time. More specifically, back pain. Luckily, turning to targeted yoga stretches for releasing tension can do a world of good.
If you’ve been feeling like you need to wring out negative energy from your body, a seated twist is the perfect, accessible move for the job. Suitable for yogis of all fitness levels, this relaxing movement can help release excess tension from your back, so you can wind down with ease. Below, certified yoga instructor Juanina Kocher demonstrates this satisfying pose, along with form tips and variations for the deepest stretch possible.
How to do a seated twist.
Demonstrated by Juanina Kocher.
Bring your right arm up and over, placing your hand on the ground behind you. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh, to help enhance your twist.
Take a deep breath in, and exhale as you twist to the right. Continue twisting for 5 to 8 breaths.
Release the twist and come back to a neutral spine. Roll your shoulders a few times.
Switch the direction of your legs, and repeat this twist on the opposite side.
While a seated twist is not a particularly difficult movement, practicing it with proper form is essential to ensure you’re getting the full range of benefits. Registered yoga instructor and mbg writer Sarah Regan explains, “Keep both sitz bones firmly rooted in the ground as you twist. Imagine you were being twisted up toward the ceiling, creating length through the spine.”
A strong awareness of your body as you stretch is vital, and to get a better grip in the pose, Regan recommends pressing your arm into your leg to get more leverage as you twist.
Modifications & variations.
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In terms of modifications, it may be too difficult for some people to do this stretch with both legs bent, so Regan suggests leaving your bottom leg out straight if you’re lacking the mobility. “If even that is too much, you can have both legs straight and gently twist in the same way towards both sides,” she adds.
Chair Seated Twist
Demonstrated by Kocher.
Place your right hand behind you. Bring your left hand to the outside of the right thigh, to help enhance the twist.
Twist your body to the right, bringing your gaze behind your body (or to your side, if this is too intense). With each breath, try to twist a little farther. (Note: This is great after a lunch break, to help promote digestion.)
Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Add it to your routine.
There’s nothing quite like a relaxing flow to prepare your body for sleep, and this 12-minute yoga routine from Kocher is specifically designed to help with back pain. This rejuvenating flow will cut through tension and relieve pressure from your spine so you can finally feel free from the discomfort that sitting in a chair all day creates.
If you’re partial to a flow that doesn’t require you to leave your chair, these seven seated movements from Kocher are an easy way to break up your day and get things moving during your lunch break. This will alleviate pent up tension from the comfort of your desk because even if you’re working on a tight schedule, there’s always time in the day for movement!