We spend a lot of our time seating down. This often puts us into an inactive state that impacts our mental processes and ultimately our ability to work productively. As a hyperactive person, I resented being pinned to a chair for hours on end and even asked my workplace to provide me with a standing desk. However, when this was no longer possible, I started to adopt a yogi mentality, thinking of the time we sit down as the time to stretch, hold poses and relax. This was during a very stressful time at work when succumbing into a comfortable seated position felt like a luxury.
So, I’ve started to experiment with several seated positions that induce a deep stretch. The beauty of sitting in such comfortable positions is that the relaxation you feel from the legs, reverberates up in your entire body until it reaches your mind. Here are my favourite seating positions:
1) Cross-legged with the foot of the upper leg rested against the leg of the table or chair
This position brings a burst of comfort especially at the begging. The sense of relaxation that your stretched foot and shin feel will transcend in your entire body. However, I can only hold it for about half an hour, as the sense of comfort slightly wears off and I feel the need to change into a new position.
2) Double cross-legged: the upper leg going round the shin of the leg standing upright
Similar to the first one, this position also brings a burst of comfort as your body feels stretched out. It’s feels very relaxing.
A good variation of the above posture is with the foot of the straight leg raised up on its toes which become a supporting platform and the foot of the curled-up leg hanging down suspended against the raised leg, such that its toes rest at the back on the curvature of the raised leg. The beauty of this position is that the toes of the curled-up leg tap into the reflexology points of the raised foot.
For a deeper stretch, you could have the toes of the curled up leg come out from behind the standing leg, so they are in line with the raised leg.
Or, you could have the big toe of the curled up leg bent behind the raised foot while the rest of the toes are in line with the standing toes of the raised-up foot. This position feels great particularly when the outer side of the heel rests against the leg of the chair.
3) One lower leg bent under your body
This is a very good stretch for the bent leg which will relax your entire body. This is similar to pigeon-style pose in yoga.
4) Cross-legged, yogi-style but with both feet touching each other
This one you can only enjoy when you are working from home. The beauty of this posture is that it transposes you into a zen-like state of mind.
5) Both legs under your bum, with knees up in an inverted A-shape:
This position allows you to maintain a straight back, which inadvertently ensures you have a good posture. It also provides a good stretch for your legs.
6) Curled up with both knees up against the table
I like this posture because it allows you to maintain a good posture with the back straight against the chair. I normally tend to slouch when I sit down and have to make a conscious effort to straight myself back up. I also like this posture because it allows me to physically distance myself from the work in front of me, which I feel gives me the ability to see the bigger picture and gain a better perspective on my work.
7) Legs up on the chair opposite you
I first experimented with this position when I felt like lounging in a train carriage where I was alone late in the evening. Then I tried it while working from home at the dining room table. The benefits of this position are that you can enjoy it for a long time, without getting into the situation where the deep stretch that your legs experience becomes uncomfortable.
8) The foot of one leg pointed straight down standing on its tiptoes and the shin of the other leg bent under it
The pointed toes of this potion make you feel more delicate and grounded, which is particularly good for instilling in you that sense of discipline and graciousness required for doing deep work.
9) Both legs half bent, one held on a side, 45° from the back of the chair and the other bent leg held with the knee facing forwards
This position feels very good after a workout, particularly if you haven’t stretched enough after it. I’ve actually borrowed it from a stretching pose, which I’ve been enjoying at the end of many workouts and yoga / pilates sessions. There is nothing stopping us from incorporating it into our daily lives even when we don’t work out. It feels particularly luxurious on when sat on a large cushioned bench, to enjoy a deeper stretch without feeling constrained by the space.
10) One leg bent in an inclined triangle, so its foot presses against the other leg that’s just sat in a normal position
In this position, the leg of the inclined triangle enjoyed a deep stretch while massaging the back of the shin of the leg that’s just sat normally. You can alternate which leg you keep in the inclined triangle, so you enjoy deep stretches in each leg at a time.