Yoga Poses to Counteract the Effects of Prolonged Sitting

Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to have a negative impact on our health, increasing the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.1  Unfortunately, for those of us with desk jobs, sitting for hours at a time may seem unavoidable. But there are things we can do to reduce the amount of time we sit, as well as mitigate/reverse the effects of sitting when it can’t be avoided. For example, according Edward R. Laskowski, MD, with the Mayo Clinic, research indicates that doing 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense exercise every day can counter the negative effects of prolonged sitting, and for people who are very active, periods of sitting seem to have little negative impact on their overall health.1 In other words, less sitting and more moving are good for you. If you have a desk job (or any job that requires a lot of sitting), try standing whenever you have a chance. For example, stand up and stretch for a few minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting (set a reminder on your smartphone); stand while talking on the phone; invest in a standing desk and use it in place of a conventional desk whenever possible during the work shift; and/or every hour or two, take a short walk break around the office or parking lot. Yoga can also be beneficial in counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting. The following poses are, no doubt, very familiar to our readers, and simple to do, but they not only can help improve your balance and posture, they can also reduce the effects of prolonged sitting by increasing circulation to areas of the body affected by sitting.2-4

Editor’s note: Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine what type of exercise is right for you. 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

1. On hands and knees, place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.  

2. With your toes curled under, exhale and lift your knees then hips from the floor and straighten your legs (don’t lock your knees). 

3. Spread your fingers and press them actively into the floor. Let your head hang between your arms. Move your shoulders away from your ears and toward your hips. Engage your thigh muscles to take the weight off your arms. 

4. Rotate your thighs inward, keep your tail high, and sink your heels towards the floor.

5. Stay in the pose for 10 or more breaths, then bend your knees on an exhalation and lower yourself into child’s pose. Repeat several times.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

1. Stand straight with your legs wide apart. 

2. Turn right foot out at 90 degrees and the left foot in slightly. 

2. Inhale as you stretch your arms straight out from your shoulders, parallel with the ground.

3. Reach to the right extending your body over your right leg. Exhale as you bring your right arm down, placing your hand either on the leg, the floor or a block. Stretch your left arm up toward the ceiling. Rotate your ribs towards the ceiling. 

4. Reach strongly through both arms and turn your head to look up past your left fingertips.

5. Hold for several breaths (10 to 20 seconds) 

6. Inhale deeply as you come back to standing position. Exhale as you lower your arms and step your feet together.

7. Repeat on the other side.

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

1. Stand straight with your legs wide apart. 

2. Turn right foot out at 90 degrees and the left foot in slightly. 

2. Inhale as you stretch your arms straight out from your shoulders, parallel with the ground.

3. Bend your right knee and stack it over your right ankle.Do not let the right knee pass the ankle. The right thigh should be parallel to the ground. The left leg should be straight.

4. Distribute your weight evenly between both legs. Press down through the outer edge of your back foot.

5. Keep the crown of your head over your pelvis and your shoulders over your hips.

6. Reach strongly through both arms front and back and turn your head to look past your right fingertips.

7. Hold for several breaths (10 to 20 seconds) 

8. Inhale deeply and straighten your right leg; then exhale and release your arms, stepping your feet together. 

9. Repeat on the other side.


  1. Laskowski ER. What are the risks of sitting too much? Mayo Clinic website.,that%20make%20up%20metabolic%20syndrome. Accessed 5 Dec 2022. 
  2. Yoga Journal website. Downward-facing dog pose. Accessed 5 Dec 2022.
  3. Yoga Journal website. Warrior 2 pose. Accessed 5 Dec 2022.
  4. Yoga Journal website. Extended triangle pose. Accessed 5 Dec 2022.   

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