Many yoga poses are named after animals and other things in the natural world that they…
Seated yoga poses are great for beginners, as they allow you to target certain areas of the body, to stretch and strengthen these areas all the while remaining in various seated positions. They provide the perfect foundation for any yoga practice.
Whenever you practice yoga, remember to be mindful, show yourself compassion and carry out the individual poses in a safe manner. Yoga isn’t about pushing yourself to your limits, but rather about being present in your body no matter how much your mind tries to distract it. These 10 seated yoga poses will help you remain in that present state of being.
10 Seated Yoga Poses
1. Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose)
The first seated yoga pose is called Sukhasana, which is Sanskrit for “Easy Seated Pose”. Simply sit on your mat with your legs crossed in front of you.
Don’t let yourself be fooled though, this pose may not be as easy as its name suggests. Hip mobility plays a big role in this pose so be gentle with yourself and find the version of this asana that works best for your body and the current state that it’s in.
Sit on a block, pillow, or folded blanket so that your knees are lower than your hips. Alternatively, you can place blocks or pillows under your knees to prop them up.
Keep your core slightly engaged to support your spine and expand your chest.
Allow your arms to relax by your sides and rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing either up or down.
2. Padmasana (Lotus and Half Lotus Pose)
Lotus Pose looks similar to Sukhasana but instead of placing both feet under your legs, place them on top of your legs. Hip and ankle mobility both play a role in this pose so make sure you don’t force your body into any position that isn’t ready for yet.
Pointing your knees forward and placing your feet closer to your hip joints rather than the inside of your knees may help with this posture.
If it’s challenging to place both feet above your legs, practice Half Lotus with one foot under the opposite leg. If you choose to do the half version, remember to switch sides for balance.
3. Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Dandasana, or Staff Pose, stretches your hamstrings and strengthens your core and back.
Sit with your legs extended out in front of you. Flex your feet and engage your thighs. Gently press your heels into the mat. Keep your core engaged, your spine elongated and your arms at your sides.
Depending on the length of your arms, you may be able to place your palms flat on the ground, or, alternatively, you may need to make a fist with your hands or simply extend your fingers to the ground.
Don’t collapse your shoulders forward or bend your spine just so that you can touch the ground. Instead, place a block or folded towels under your hands for any added support that you may need.
4. Janu Sirsasana
In order to transition to Janu Sirsasana, keep one leg extended out in front of you while bending the knee of your other leg and sliding your heel towards your groin. Keep the foot of your bent leg flat against the inner thigh of your extended leg.
Move with your breath to flow into the next part of the pose.
Keep your core engaged and spine elongated as you inhale and lift both arms up. Continue to reach up as you exhale and bend forward, folding at the hips and reaching towards the toes of your extended leg.
Lower your arms and allow them to rest on whatever part of your leg they reach, be it your thigh, shin, foot or toes, or maybe you even lower them to the point where you can interlace your fingers at the sole of your foot.
To extend your reach, use a yoga strap around your foot. Don’t pull hard on the strap. Simply hold the pose at whichever position feels right for your body.
After taking a few breaths on this side, switch to the other side.
5. Paschimottanasana (West Intense Stretch Pose)
The 5th of our seated yoga poses translates as “West Intense Stretch” because yoga practitioners traditionally faced the rising sun while practicing asanas and therefore had their backs turned towards the west.
Keep both of your legs extended out in front of you. Just like the previous asana, synchronize your movement with your breath. Inhale as you lift your arms up and exhale as you fold forward from the hips and reach your arms and hands towards your toes.
Use a strap wrapped around your flexed feet or allow your hands to hold onto any part of your legs that you can reach.
If needed, you may sit on a yoga block to elevate your hips. This reduces tension in your lower back and prevents it from rounding off. It also enables lengthening your spine before you bend forward.
6. Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold)
This next pose stretches your inner thighs, hamstrings and hips.
To avoid overworking your muscles when you first practice this asana, don’t move your heels too far apart. Form a triangle shape with your legs rather than going into a straddle split.
Flex your feet and gently push your heels into the ground. Engage your thighs as you fold forward from your hips.
If your chest doesn’t reach the floor, support yourself with your hands or elbows. If needed, you may also use blocks or bolsters to rest your chest and forehead on.
7. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly)
As we age, hip health is important for quality of life. Baddha Konasana, also known as Butterfly Pose, is a simple seated yoga pose that increases hip mobility and circulation.
Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall open to the side. Either bring your feet close to your groin or place them further away to create a diamond shape with your legs.
Either hold your feet together with your hands or open them like a book and press your thumbs into the soles of your feet. You can gently push down on your knees with your elbows but keep your back and the front of your torso elongated. If this feels like it’s too much for your hips, prop up your knees on yoga blocks or pillows.
If your hips feel good in this position, you may bend forward, folding at your hips.
8. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fish Pose / Seated Twists)
These Seated Twists help to decompress the spine. In addition, this asana is said to help elevate your focus and concentration while at the same time massaging your internal organs.
Bend your right leg and place your left foot underneath it so that your left heel touches your right hip and your left knee lies on the mat. Cross your right foot over your left knee and lengthen your back as much as possible. Place your right hand at the base of your spine on the ground behind you in order to support yourself and your posture.
Inhale and raise your left arm above your head. Exhale to twist your upper body towards the right and place your left elbow behind your right knee. Look over your right shoulder or find another good position for your head that feels comfortable to you.
After taking a few deep breaths in this pose, counter twist to the other side and complete Ardha Matsyendrasana with your other leg.
9. Virasana (Hero Pose)
Virasana, or Hero Pose, is a hip opener that also stretches your quads. Pay close attention to your body’s signals while practicing this pose. If any discomfort turns into a sharp pain, especially in your knees, carefully release the pose immediately.
From a kneeling position, keep your knees together while opening up your heels so you can sit directly on your mat or on a block, bolster or folded blanket placed between your feet. If needed, you may move your knees apart as well.
Keep your spine upright and your chest expanded. Your arms may hang loosely at your sides and you can place your hands on your lap.
10. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
This final seated asana gently stretches both your spine and hips while at the same time allowing your body to rest and recover.
From a kneeling position, place your sit bones on your heels and bend forward while reaching your arms out in front of you with your palms facing downward.
In this pose, you may either keep your knees together or apart. Allow your forehead to rest on your mat.
Keep your arms extended in front of you and continue to reach forward to achieve a more active version of Child’s Pose. Alternatively, for a more restorative effect, relax your arms and either hold them in their extended position or place them at your sides.
Conclusion on seated yoga poses
These ten seated yoga poses are the foundation of many other yoga poses. They’re easy to follow for any level of yoga practitioner and will help you focus on stretching and strengthening various parts of your body while staying seated on your mat.
As you practice these poses, remember to always be gentle with yourself, stay present in the moment and mindful of what your body is telling you.