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Sitting in your desk chair all day—even an ergonomic one—isn’t easy on your hips. Your hips have to balance the physical stress that sitting places on your lower back with the tension held in your legs as they counterbalance your torso. But the hip cradle also tightens up as it absorbs and stores the mental stress that just comes with the job. It’s not surprising that hips that have been on lockdown for eight to 10 hours a day might not open easily into Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) when you get on your yoga mat.

While you probably can’t roll out your yoga mat in your office, you can bring hip opening asanas to work every day. Like all hip openers, office-friendly hip openers have benefits that go far deeper than improving flexibility and balance. They promote better circulation, refresh your brain with a flow of fresh oxygen and provide stress release. A few minutes spent stretching stops the monkey mind, allowing your mind, body, and spirit to return to the task at hand with a more open point of view.

Before you transition into these hip openers, take time to prepare. Make sure your chair wheels and back are locked in position. You might also want to use Yoga Paws on both your hands and feet to get the stability of working on a mat without having to worry about carrying and storing one more thing.

 Seated Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (seated pigeon).

Sit at the front of your chair (or on the floor), legs bent and feet on the floor. Inhaling, raise the right leg and place the right ankle on the left leg on the thigh, above the knee. Flex the right foot You may feel a stretch without going deeper.

To intensify the stretch, exhale, hinge at the hips and bend forward. Hold for five breaths. Then reverse sides. To stretch the entire hip, after the initial forward fold, return to a seated position with the back straight. Exhaling, fold over the right knee. Inhale as you return to the seated posture. Twist slightly, exhale and fold over the left knee. Hold each pose for three to five breaths. Reverse sides.

Agnistambhasana (fire log pose)

Sitting on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Roll your shoulders back and let the shoulder blades move down your back. Slide your left foot under your right leg, outside of your right hip. Then stack your right leg on top of your left leg so that your right ankle is stacked just outside of your left knee—not on the knee. Hold for a minute or more. To intensify, inhale your arms up, then exhale and hinge forward at the hips, keeping the back straight as you lower your torso.

Malasana (garland pose)

Exhale as you lower into a squat with your feet close together. Lower your fingertips to the floor to help stabilize you and make sure your hips are open.

Lean your torso forward and position it snugly against your thighs, keeping your heels on the floor. Press palms together in Anjali Mudra (salutation seal) at heart center. Press the knees against the elbows. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Release by coming to standing, rolling up one vertebra at a time.

Prasarita Padottanasana I (wide-legged forward bend).

Stand in Tadasana (mountain pose). Exhale and step or jump your feet three to four feet apart. Keep feet parallel or slightly toed in and place your hands on your hips. Focus on lifting your arches by drawing up on the inner ankles and pressing both the outer edges of feet and the ball of your big toe to the floor.

Engage your thigh muscles as you inhale and lift your chest. Exhaling, hinge at your hips and lower your torso. When your head is parallel to hips, place the palms of the hands on the floor.

To deepen, lower the crown of the head to the floor on an exhale. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Move the hands under the face, then to the hip creases. Pull your tailbone under and hinge at the hips to swing the torso up.

 Keep in mind that even small changes contribute to opening the hips. Just twisting in your chair helps to open the hips and cleanse the liver and kidneys. A forward fold in the middle of the day can let the hips open as you release tension out of the crown of your head.  It’s all good. 

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