Sometimes we want a quick, effortless release from aches and pains. Sofa yoga can help with that…

Hands up if you ache all over? Keep your hands in the air if you can’t be bothered to spend an hour going through a long vinyasa flow even though you know it will probably help.

While dedicating time to your stretch routine is undoubtedly important, sometimes you just want a quick solution to ease tension. And we have it: sofa yoga.

“Sofa yoga is something that is accessible to everyone. Most yoga poses can be replicated in some form while seated, reducing tension in the body and bringing clarity and calm to the mind,” says yoga teacher Mariel Whitmond, founder of Mindful Sonder.

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That sounds like something we could get on board with. The key to reaping these benefits is to be mindful with your practice – engaging the breath to reduce mental stress and ease you further into the stretches will help make up for the short routine.

It’s worth noting that sofa yoga is never going to be a replacement for a proper yoga routine, especially as sitting might be what is causing your issues. “Sitting for long periods of time causes discomfort and chronic pain,” Whitmond adds, but she says that any movement is good foreasing tension, especially when you’re injured or tired.

If you want to give it a go, she’s shared her three favourite sofa yoga poses you can do while watching TV, catching up with your partner or housemates or simply chilling after work. 

4 sofa yoga poses

Sofa yoga can be an easy way to reap the benefits of stretching

Seated pigeon

“This is a great stretch for the hips and glutes and can also help to release tension in the lower back. It opens the hips to support mobility, but it’s also great to relieve stress at the end of the day as it is believed we store stress and emotions in the hips,” Whitmond says.

How to do a seated pigeon

  1. Sit on the edge of your sofa with both feet on the ground, hip distance apart.
  2. Lift your right foot off the floor and bring your right ankle to your left knee.
  3. Flex your right foot and keep the spine long and place your right hand onto your right knee and left hand onto your right ankle.
  4. Start to gently lean forward, keeping an anterior pelvic tilt (slightly pushing your pelvis back). Stop before your spine starts to round.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

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Sofa hip flexor stretch

“Prolonged sitting can cause our hip flexors at the front of our thigh to shorten. In addition to getting up regularly to stretch your legs, this is a great stretch you can do while remaining seated,” says Whitmond.

  1. Kneel in front of your sofa, facing away from it, with your left foot on the floor in a lunge position.
  2. Place your right foot onto the sofa, pressing into the cushion.
  3. Tuck your pelvis and lean your body forwards over your left foot to increase the stretch through the right hip.
  4. Repeat on the other side. 

Sofa yoga can ease neck pain

Goddess shoulder stretches

“Our posture while seated isn’t always ideal, which is why this stretch is great to relieve muscle tension and avoid chronic pain in the shoulders,” explains Whitmond.

  1. Bring your hips to the edge of the sofa and separate the feet wide with your toes turned out. Keep the knees in line with the ankles.
  2. Place your hands on your knees and open your chest, then drop your right shoulder down and across your body, towards your left knee.
  3. Bend your right elbow as you do so and keep your legs strong, pushing your right arm straight against your right leg.
  4. Repeat on the other side. 

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Neck stretch

“This stretches our trapezius muscle, which begins at the base of our neck and runs down the length of our shoulders and back. As it covers so much space, it can cause neck, shoulder and upper back discomfort, which is why this stretch can be so beneficial,” explains Whitmond.

  1. Find a comfortable seated position with your head drawing towards the ceiling and back straight. 
  2. Bring your left arm behind you and grab your right elbow with your left hand. Drop your right ear towards your right shoulder to stretch the left side of your neck.
  3. Repeat on the other side. 

Images: Getty

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