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  • Seated Yoga Poses

    Seated yoga poses include symmetrical forward bending poses, janu sirsasana type poses, poses with one or both legs in lotus, marichyasana type poses, side-bending poses, and more.

    Cross legged and kneeling poses each have their own page.

    Symmetrical Seated Yoga Poses

    Symmetrical seated poses include bound angle pose, wide leg seated forward fold and seated forward fold.

    Bound Angle Pose

    yoga for flexiblity, bound angle inner thigh stretch (baddha konasana) with a 45 degree forward bend, hands grabbing the feet. Make the spine feel long from pelvis to head, push the feet into the floor and use the arms to pull up on the feet so that the ribcage moves down. In this picture my elbows point back. Model, Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In Bound Angle Pose (baddha konasana) pose both knees are bent with the feet together. If you have your feet close to the pelvis this pose stretches the inner thighs. If you have your feet further forwards then this pose turns into a stretch for the outer thighs. For both positions try pushing your feet down into the floor.

    Wide Leg Forward Bending Seated Yoga Pose

    Hamstring stretches, wide leg forward bend. In this wide leg forward bend feet are a legs distance apart from side to side with feet parallel and knees straight. Upper body is tilted forwards with torso almost horizontal. Both arms are reaching forwards with hands off of the floor. Gaze is downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In Wide Leg Forward Bend you can press your legs down into the floor. At the same time reach your ribs away from your pelvis. To add weight to this yoga pose lift your hands off of the floor. Then reach them forwards. Make your arms feel long! But keep your neck long and your chest open as you do so.

    Seated Forward Bend

    In seated forward bend, you can sit with legs parallel and knees straight. Tilting forwards at the hips, make the spine long (from tailbone to crown) and reach the arms forwards. Make arms and legs and spine all feel long. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) focus on creating an upward pull on your legs so that your quadriceps and hip flexors activate. Reach your arms forwards to add weight to the pose.

    As you get lower, focus on pulling your lower belly in using your transverse abdominus muscles. If your low back is ucomfortable you may find that stretching your hands forwards activates your latissimus dorsai which in turn helps to support your lower back.

    Table Top and Reverse Plank

    seated yoga poses: table top yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    seated yoga posos: reverse plank yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    While seated it is easy to place your hands behind you and lift your pelvis to backbend your hips and spine. For reverse plank in particular, try pulling your hands forwards against the floor as you lift your hips.

    Boat Pose

    Seated yoga poses, navasana, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Seated yoga poses, navasana, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Seated yoga poses, navasana, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

    For boat pose you can first try lifting your feet an inch off of the floor. Then do it with shins parallel to the floor. Then try it with knees straight. To give your hips a rest, do table top pose, then boat pose, then reverse plank.

    Janu Sirsasana Seated Yoga Poses

    The janu sirsasana series of seated yoga poses can be used to stretch the hamstrings one leg at a time. They also work on the knee of the bent knee leg in different ways.

    Janu Sirsasana A

    janu sirsasana a with head to shin and hand on the floor either side of the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoa Poses.

    In janu sirsasana A the foot is placed against the inner thigh.

    Janu Sirsasana B

    Getting into Janu Sirsasana B seated yoga pose, Using hands to lift the hips and place anus on top of the bent knee heel.

    In the Janu sirsasana B variation place your anus on top of the heel.

    Janu Sirsasana C

    janu sirsasana C, in this picture torso is upright with spine long. Foot is against the inner thigh with heel uppermost and toes tucked towards the knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In the Janu Sirsasana C variation place the sole of the foot against the inner thigh with the heel uppermost and the ball of the foot on the floor. In this position the shin is folded to the inside of the thigh and is externally rotated. In comparison the same foot in janu sirsasana A is internally rotated.

    Notice the similarity of the Janu Sirsasana C foot position to the half bound lotus seated yoga poses.

    Seated Yoga Poses with a Lotus Pose Element

    When the foot is in lotus, the shin moves inwards slightly relative to the thigh (similiar to Janu Sirsasana C).

    Preparing for Lotus

    Postures that may help you move towards lotus, or that help to open the hips so that lotus is less stressful on the knee include yoga pigeon pose, double pigeon, screaming pigeon, low lunge and painful pose.

    You could also use janu sirsasana C either as a preparation or as a substitute for the half lotus seated yoga pose.

    Half Bound Lotus (Upright and Forward Bending)

    half bound lotus seated forward bend (ardha baddha padmo paschimottanasana). Right foot is in lotus and bound with the right hand. Left hand is grabbing the left big toe. Torso is tilted forwards at the hips. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    For half bound yoga lotus forward bend (ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana) you may find it helps to bind if you twist away from the lotus leg.

    getting into half bound lotus seated forward bend. Placing foot in crease of other thigh. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    getting into half bound lotus seated forward bend. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga POses.

    If you can't bind, you can still do the forward bend. You can press the elbow of the straight leg arm into the foot. Use the elbow to press the foot back.

    For standing one leg lotus forward bend read the ardha baddha padmasana article.

    Full Lotus

    Once you can get your feet into lotus on one side you can then work towards full lotus (padmasana) seated yoga pose. I would suggest practicing both sides.

    From an organ stimulation point of view, the left foot on top position (shown) is the preferred method since the left heel can then stimulate the liver and the left foot the stomach. The liver is higher than the stomach.

    However, this will only happen if your lotus is very tight (the knees moving inwards and the heels pressing into the lower belly.)

    In particular this happens when you bind both feet and/or bend forwards.

    I don't practice lotus enough to offer an "expert" or "experienced" opinion and so ideally, try both options, notice the results and make your decision based on your own observations.

    full lotus, hands on knees
    hero pose seated, upright, hands on floor.

    Lotus pose and Hero pose are counterposes for each other. If you do one it's generally recommended that you also do the other.

    Where lotus pose involves an external rotation of the thigh and also an inwards movement of the shin relative to the thigh, hero pose is an inward rotation of the thigh with an outwards movement of the shin relative to the thigh. You can think of hero pose as a sort of kneeling yoga pose.

    Bharadvajasana

    bharadvajasana

    Bharadvajasana has a leg in hero and a leg in lotus. And it's a twist. So it's "self balancing." It doesn't need a counterpose. It may be one of the easier "traditional" seated yoga poses with a lotus element simply because the torso is upright.

    Marichyasana Seated Yoga Poses

    Easier marichyasana seated yoga poses include modified marichyasana positions where the non-marichyasana foot in in hero position or the basic janu sirsasana a position. These are handy for learning to bind.

    modified marichyasana position with non-marichyasana leg in hero pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Modified marichyasana position with non-marichyasana foot folded to the inside of the other foor. Torso is twisting away from the marichyasana side. Neil Kelher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In both Marichyasana A and Marichyasana C the non-marichyasana leg is straight.

    Marichyasana A from side, can see hand grabbing wrist behind back.
    marichyasana C

    Generally the binding hand grabs the other hand but I'd suggest switching hands for a slightly different experience of these seated yoga poses.

    Once you have bound I'd suggest using your arm to press against the leg. You can also press your leg against the arm to add tension to the pose. This tension may help give the pose greater integrity. Keep your neck long and make your arms feel long when preparing to bind.

    Marichyasana B and D

    marichyasana B from lotus leg side. Head off of the floor.
    marichyasana D (working towards binding)

    In both Marichyasana B and marichyasana D the non-marichyasana foot is in the lotus position.

    Semi Kneeling Seated Poses

    Triang Muka Eka Pada Paschimottansana

    triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana with hand grabbing wrist. three quarter front angle

    In Triang Muka Eka Pada Paschimottansana try pressing down with the straight leg to stay balanced as you lean forwards in this seated yoga pose.

    Reclining Half Hero

    reclining half hero pose (ardha supta virasana), arms behind head

    Reclining Half Hero is a nice way to stretch the quad and hip flexors of the bent knee leg.

    Counter Posing Seated Forward Bends

    To counter-pose seated forward bends you can use table top yoga pose or reverse plank (Purvottanasana). This is also called Straight Bridge.

    In table top yoga pose, move the shoulder blades together. Reach the chest back (towards the chin.) Press the feet down to press the pelvis up. In this picture the the head is slightly lifted. You could also relax the neck and let the head hang back. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    For reverse plank (also called straight bridge or purvottanasana), move the shoulder blades together, reach the chest towards the chin and press the heels down into the floor to lift the pelvis. Keep the knees straight. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Side Bending Seated Yoga Poses

    Side bending seated yoga poses stretch the side of the body.

    With one knee bent the usual option is to bent towards the straight leg.

    One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, knees straight and bend to one side. In this case both arms are reaching past the head adding weight to the stretch. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the shin folded to the outside of the thigh (hero position). Bend towards the straight leg to stretch the side of the torso. In this case the top hand grabs the foot of the straight leg with the uppermost side of the ribcage rolling back. The lower shoulder is to the inside of the leg and pressing back against the leg.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the shin folded to the inside of the thigh (janu sirsasana position). Bend towards the straight leg to stretch the side of the torso. In this case the top hand grabs the foot of the straight leg with the uppermost side of the ribcage rolling back. The lower shoulder is to the inside of the leg and pressing back against the leg.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    When bending one knee you can fold the shin to the outside of the thigh (hero position) or to the inside (janu sirsasana position.)

    Side Bending Modifications (for the Flexibility Impaired)

    If you are less flexible try bending the knee(s).

    You can also place the lowermost hand to the outside of the thigh if you find you are tipping backwards.

    If you are less flexible, then when doing a seated side bend with both legs spread, you can bend both knees keeping the heels on the floor. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    If you are flexibility impaired, then one option for janu sirsasana side bend is to bend the knee of the leg you are bending towards. If you find that you tend to tip backwards you can also place the hand on the floor to the outside of the upward pointing knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    If your flexibility is limited in half hero seated side bend, then bend the knee of the straight leg. Keep the heel on the floor. To make bending to the side easier, place your hand on the floor to the outside of the non-hero position leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    "Special" Seated Yoga Poses

    The following seated poses include hamstring stretches, hips stretches and twists.

    Frog Pose Hip Stretch

    frog pose seated hip stretch. Sit with legs open 90 degrees. Keep one knee straight. Bend the other knee with the shin to the outside of the thigh (hero position). Top of the foot or the inside of the foot can be on the floor. (In picture, the inner foot is on the floor so that toes point outwards.) Turn midway between both thighs and slowly bend forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Frog pose is similiar to half hero side bend except that you bend forwards between your legs. This can be quite intense on the inner thighs.

    Ardha Matsyendrasana

    ardha matsyendrasana seated yoga pose. Step one leg over the other. Have foot just beside the other knee. In this picture the opposite arm is hugging the top knee. The other hand is on the floor behind the back. Both arms are being used to turn the ribcage and twist the spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In Ardha Matsyendrasana you can bind the hand or more traditionally, grab the foot of the upright knee with the arm along the outside of the thigh.

    Once you are comfortable either grabbing the foot or binding, you can experiment with pressing the thigh against the arm while at the same time pressing the arm against the thigh.

    The picture above shows a modified or preparatory position with the arm hugging the knee. In this position you can still use both arms to drive the twist.

    Modified Compass Pose

    Modified compass pose or Compass pose preparation is a seated hamstring stretch. From a cross legged position grab one foot with both hands, lift the floor and straighten the knee. Keep the neck long and chest lifted. Relax the shoulders to make it easier to straighten the knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Modified compass pose (or modified heron pose) is a preparation for compass pose but also an easy way to do heron pose since the bent knee leg isn't in hero position.

    In this pose focus on relaxing your shoulders so that you can keep the hip joint decompressed You may find it easier then to pull the leg back.

    Compass Pose

    For compass pose, start from a seated cross leg position. Place one thigh behind the same shoulder. Press the hand into the floor. Grab the foot with the opposite hand. Keep the shoulder relaxed slowly straighten the knee and rotate the leg so that the knee points towards the side of the body. Press the other shoulder back against the leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    In compass pose with the leg behind the shoulder, relax the shoulder of the grabbing hand until you get the knee straight. Then if you like pull the leg inwards. As you straighten the leg in compass pose, roll the leg so that the knee points towards the ribcage, like it does in either of the side bending yoga pose half hero side bend or janusirsasana side bend.

    This pose can be a good preparation for the arm balance eka pada kundinyasana.

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