Seated yoga poses are perfect when you want a gentle yoga routine to get your body moving without needing to unroll your mat. When you connect these simple poses with your breath, it becomes a kind of moving meditation that is excellent for calming your mind and relieving stress.
Chair yoga is also wonderful for stretching your body and improving your flexibility. It is great when your mobility is limited, or when you’ve been stuck at your desk all day and want to relieve stiffness and tension.
In this post, I’m going to run through a beginner-friendly seated yoga routine that takes just five minutes. It is ideal for waking your body and mind up first thing in the morning, but you can do it at any time of day. Perhaps take five minutes out of your working day and run through the sequence from your desk.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Danielle Collins routine if it didn’t also have benefits for your face. Although we won’t be doing any face yoga moves, we will stretch out the neck and shoulders, which in turn helps to release stress and tension in the face.
This is a perfect gentle yoga routine to get your prana, or life energy, flowing freely, revitalising your body, face, and mind.
Find a comfortable chair to sit in. We’re going to stay seated for the whole routine, but we will move our arms around, so it is best to choose one that isn’t too wide and doesn’t have big arms. You’ll need some space to be able to move freely.
As with any of my yoga or face yoga sequences, work to your own level as you move through these seated poses. Stop if anything feels uncomfortable or painful and feel free to go at your own pace.
Take a moment to settle into your chair. Place your feet flat on the floor. Have a sense of grounding down through the soles of your feet. At the same time, lengthen out through your whole spine.
Imagine that you have a cord of energy running through your centre, starting at your root chakra at the base of the spine and continuing out of the crown of your head and up to the ceiling. Feel the cord pulling you up at the same time as you ground down through your feet.
Relax your shoulders down away from your ears. You might like to close your eyes too. Bring your attention to your breath. Inhale and exhale through your nose, keeping your breath easy and relaxed.
When you start to feel calmer and connected to your breath, you are ready to begin.
1. Neck Circles
Moving slowly and gently, turn your head to one side, then drop your chin down towards your chest as you turn your head to the other side. Your chin should move in a semi-circle. Keep the motion fluid as you repeat this action, stretching out the back and sides of your neck.
When you are ready and if it feels OK on your neck, you can start to make full circles. Make several circles in one direction and then switch and move in the opposite direction.
You’ll feel this move stretching and releasing tension from your neck, upper back, and even the sides of your jaw.
Bring your head back to the centre. Keeping the rest of your body still, turn your head to look to one side. Tilt your chin up and slightly back. You should feel this in the opposite side of your neck.
The neck is somewhere we often hold a lot of tension, especially since many of us spend a good chunk of the day sitting at a desk or looking down at our phones.
This tightness can then spread up through our jaws and cheeks, affecting our faces and eventually causing lines and wrinkles. So, by loosening the shoulders and neck, we also help our faces to relax and let go of tension.
Hold the pose for around ten seconds, then release and repeat it on the other side.
2. Shoulder Release
For our next move, we’re working to release some of the stress and tightness from the shoulders. This is another place where we often notice stiffness and crunchy bits, especially first thing in the morning or after a long day in front of the computer.
Make some circles with your shoulders, bringing them up, back, down, and then forward. Don’t forget to continue to connect with your breath as you move. After ten to fifteen seconds, reverse the movement so that your circles are going in the other direction.
3. Seated Twist
This move is wonderful for mobilising the spine and stretching the upper back.
Keep your lower body still and facing forward. Place your right hand lightly on your left thigh. Turn your shoulders and upper body to the left, moving your left arm to drape down over the back of your chair as you twist.
If it feels comfortable on your neck, you can turn your head to look over your left shoulder too.
Hold the pose for several breaths. On each exhale, see if there is any extra space to twist a tiny bit further – but don’t push beyond your body’s needs or limits.
Release back to centre and then repeat the twist on the other side.
4. Seated Cat/Cow
Still working with the spine, our next move is a seated version of Cat/Cow. Place your hands lightly on your thighs. As you inhale, lift your chest and eyes up to the ceiling, tucking your elbows in close to your body.
Then, as you exhale, tuck your chin into your chest as you round your back out to make a ‘C’ shape. Allow your elbows to bend out to the sides.
Repeat the two poses several times, keeping that connection with your breath as you move through them.
5. Upper Back Release
Straighten out through your spine, keeping your shoulders relaxed down away from your ears.
Stretch your arms back behind you, keeping them straight. Your fingers should point diagonally down towards the floor. You’ll feel the stretch in your upper back and shoulders.
Keeping your arms in this position, slowly turn your head to look to one side and then the other. Continue to repeat this for around ten seconds.
6. Feet and Ankles
Keeping the rest of your body still, lift one foot off the floor. Rotate your foot in a circular motion, first in one direction and then the other. This gets the ankle joint moving. Replace that foot on the floor and repeat on the other side.
Then, flex the lifted foot so that your toes are pointing at the ceiling. Tilt it down to point your toes at the floor. Carry on repeating this movement for a few breaths, then switch to the other foot.
This simple movement also helps to mobilise the ankle joint and provides a gentle stretch for your calf muscles too.
7. Hands, Wrists, and Arms
Stretch both arms out in front of you. Holding them steady, rotate your hands to make circles in one direction. Then repeat in the other direction to wake up your wrists.
Next, take your arms up above your head. Keep one arm up and allow the other to drop down, gently following it so that you come into a seated side bend. You can bend the arm that is in the air if it feels more comfortable.
Repeat on the other side.
8. Seated Forward Fold
Taking an inhale, extend both arms up above your head. As you exhale, sweep them down towards the floor and fold your torso down towards your legs.
Inhale to come back up and then exhale down, repeating the action several times in connection with your breath.
Come back into your comfortable seated position. Give your shoulders a little wiggle out to release them. Then, bring your hands in front of your chest in prayer position.
Close your eyes and take a moment to bring your attention back to your breath. Repeat to yourself, “I am healthy, strong, and happy” three times.
Then, take your hands up in front of your face. Touch them to your face so that your fingertips are resting first on your forehead, then your eyebrows, then your cheeks, and finally on your neck. Feel that nourishing, loving touch.
And we are all finished. This whole routine should take no more than around five minutes, so it hopefully fits easily into your day.
If you prefer to watch a video guide, you can find one on my YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe – I share weekly videos with face yoga sequences, wellness tips, and other helpful resources to support you on your journey.