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  • A Sequence of Seated Yoga Poses
    For Stretching the Hips and Legs

    A sequence of seated yoga poses that work on the hips flexors, hip extensors, outer hips etc. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    The following Seated yoga poses are organized as a potential sequence of yoga poses. You can try the poses in the order given, skipping the ones that are too difficult or cause pain (lotus variations, binding poses, and virasana variations).

    Exercises include hip stretches, hamstring stretches, hip flexor stretches and quad stretches. There are also postures that can be used to strengthen the hip flexors as well as the hip extensors. The binding or "leg grabbing" poses can both stretch and strengthen the shoulders.

    Counter poses are also included.

    If you have knee problems, most of these seated yoga poses are unsuitable unless heavily modified.

    Cross legged and kneeling poses each have their own page.

    bound angle with feet wide.
    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.
    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.
    Seated yoga poses, navasana, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    seated yoga poses: table top yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    seated yoga poses: reverse plank yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    janu sirsasana a with head to shin and hand on the floor either side of the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoa Poses.
    Getting into Janu Sirsasana B seated yoga pose, Using hands to lift the hips and place anus on top of the bent knee heel.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana with hand grabbing wrist. three quarter front angle
    reclining half hero pose (ardha supta virasana), arms behind head
    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.
    Marichyasana A from side, can see hand grabbing wrist behind back.
    marichyasana C
    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.
    Hurdlers, bending towards the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    hurdlers stretch inner thigh stretch bending forwards with hands on the floor between the legs
    intense pigeon yoga pose, reaching shoulder towards front foot, neil keleher sensational yoga poses.
    double pigeon yoga pose leaning forward
    glute stretch, hip stretch, yoga pose, glute stretch
    marichyasana B from lotus leg side. Head off of the floor.
    bharadvajasana
    bent back hero pose. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    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.
    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 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.

    Images above a clickable.
    Click the "i" link next to any heading on this page to return to this index.

    i Bound Angle Pose

    In Bound Angle Pose (baddha konasana) is a seated yoga pose both knees are bent with the feet together. You can sit upright in this pose or bend forwards.

    • 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.
    bound angle with feet wide.Wide Bound Angle
    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.
    Bound Angle

    If doing both variations (and bending forwards) you may find it easier to start with the "wider" variations, then do the variation with the feet closer to the hips.

    i Seated Wide Leg Side Bend

    While seated wide leg forward bend is a relatively easy forward bend (compared to bending forwards with feet together) it may be easier bend forwards if you first start with a side bend.

    If you are less flexible

    • Try bending your knees.
    • You can also place the lowermost hand to the outside of the thigh if you find you are tipping backwards.

    (And if you have trouble bending sideways and bending forwards in this seated yoga pose, you might want to do the standing version of this pose instead.)

    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.
    Wide Leg Side Bend With knees bent
    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.
    Seated Wide Leg Side Bend

    When bending to the side you can allow the hip on the side you are bending away from to lift. Or you can work at keeping it on the floor.

    • If you allow the hip to lift your direct the stretch to the back of the leg you are bending towards.
    • If you keep the hip down then you focus the stretch on your lumbar and thoracic spine as well as your shoulder if you are grabbing the foot over your head.

    One option might be to start with the hip lifted, particularly if you are trying to grab your foot with the opposite hand.

    Then, once you have grabbed your foot, the work at sinking the hip.

    If you are doing this pose with the hands lifted, try pressing down against the floor with the leg you are leaning towards. Do this prior to reaching your hands.

    To make it easier to reach your hands, reach your bottom hand first, pause, then reach your top hand.

    i Wide Leg Forward Bending Seated Yoga Pose

    In Wide Leg Forward Bend, press your feet into the floor so that you can lift your hands. This will strengthen your hamstrings. To rest, put your hands on the floor then relax your hamstrings.

    If you start with your hands close to your hips, lifting them is a little easier. You can lift them then slowly reach them forwards so that you gradually add to the work that your hamstrings and glutes are doing.

    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.

    i Boat Pose

    For boat pose, lean back so that your heels lightly touch the floor. Then:

    • First try lifting your feet an inch off of the floor. Lower and repeat a few times.
    • Then try lifting your feet so that your shins are parallel to the floor. Repeat a few times
    • Then try it with knees straight.

    So that you give your hips a chance to rest, first do boat pose lifting your feet a little. Then do table top. Then do boat pose with shins horizontal. Then do reverse plank. Then do boat pose with knees straight.

    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.

    i Table Top and Reverse Plank

    While seated it is easy to place your hands behind you and lift your pelvis to into table top to stretch the front of your hips and your shoulders.

    seated yoga poses: table top yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Table Top
    seated yoga poses: reverse plank yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
    Reverse Plank

    For reverse plank try frictioning your hands forwards prior to lifting your hips.

    (For more on "Frictioning" read or view Frictional Arm and Leg Strength)

    i Janu Sirsasana A, B and C

    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.

    In janu sirsasana A place the bent-knee foot against the inner thigh of the straight-leg.

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

    janu sirsasana a with head to shin and hand on the floor either side of the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoa Poses.
    Janu Sirsasana A
    Getting into Janu Sirsasana B seated yoga pose, Using hands to lift the hips and place anus on top of the bent knee heel.
    Janu Sirsasana B
    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.
    Janu Sirsasana C

    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.

    i Janu Sirsasana Side Bend

    Because the bent knee foot can make it difficult for the same-side hip to lift, side bending in janu sirsasana can be a little bit more difficult than it is when side bending in the wide leg position. For this reason, if you want a more challenging side bend, then this seated yoga pose can be useful in that regard.

    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.
    Janu Sirsasana Side Bend with knee bent
    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.
    Janu Sirsasana Side Bend

    To make the side bend easier, you can bend the knee of the leg your are bending towards.

    i Balancing External Rotation

    The janu sirsasana series of poses all have the bent knee leg externally rotated, particularly version c. So to counterbalance this tendency it makes sense to do some internally rotated thigh position seated yoga poses.

    i Half Hero Side Bend

    In half hero side bend the legs are opened to 90 degrees with the bent knee folded in the hero position.

    This seated side bending position may be easier that the janu sirsasana versionsince it the bent-knee hip is easier to lift.

    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.
    Knee Bent variant
    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.
    Half Hero Side Side Bend

    Note the bent knee modification.

    If you can grab your foot with the knee bent, then try straightening the knee while holding onto the foot. Otherwise just reach the arm over the head, and take the supporting arm off of the floor so that you can work against the weight of your body.

    i Half Hero Forward Bend and Reclining Half Hero

    In Half hero forward bend (Triang Muka Eka Pada Paschimottansana) try pressing down with the straight leg to stay balanced as you lean forwards in this seated yoga pose. Use it to push your weight towards the hero-leg side.

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

    triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana with hand grabbing wrist. three quarter front angle
    Half Hero Forward Bend
    reclining half hero pose (ardha supta virasana), arms behind head
    Half Hero Quad Stretch

    You might choose to do the forward bend first and then the quad stretch.

    Or you can try the quad stretch first and then the forward bend.

    i Easier Marichyasana Variations

    Easier marichyasana seated yoga poses include variations where the non-marichyasana foot is 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.
    Marichyasana Hero Variation
    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.
    Marichyasana Janu Variation

    Of the two, the hero variation is probably the easier.

    i Marichyasana A and C

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

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

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

    Keep your neck long and make your arms feel long when preparing to bind.

    Once you have bound you can try 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.

    i Ardha Matsyendrasana

    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.

    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.
    Ardha Matsendrasana

    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.

    i Hurdlers

    For Hurdlers Stretch you can bend towards the straight leg or bend forwards between the legs. This latter position may be known as Frog Pose.

    Hurdlers, bending towards the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Hurdlers Forward Bend
    hurdlers stretch inner thigh stretch bending forwards with hands on the floor between the legs
    Frog Pose Variant

    Incidentally, this pose can be used to balance the following pose, pigeon.

    i Preparing for Lotus with Pigeon

    Postures that may help you move towards lotus include: intense pigeon and double pigeon. Another pose you could use which is a variation of a low lunge is this glute stretch.

    intense pigeon yoga pose, reaching shoulder towards front foot, neil keleher sensational yoga poses.
    Intense Pigeon
    double pigeon yoga pose leaning forward
    Double Pigeon
    glute stretch, hip stretch, yoga pose, glute stretchGlute Stretch

    i Half Bound Lotus

    While binding in half bound lotus seated yoga pose, you may find it helpful to twist away from the lotus leg. Once bound, then try facing forwards.

    To keep your knee active (and safer) pull your foot forwards, as it trying to pull it away from your hand. At the same time pull your hand away from the foot.

    Both your arm and leg should then feel active.


    Twisting Away from Lotus Leg
    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.
    Bending Forwards

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

    i 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
    Lotus

    i Marichyasana B and D

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

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

    i 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.

    If you can't do the lotus foot position, then place the foot against the inner thigh in a modified bharadvajasana seated yoga pose.

    modified bharadvajasana. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    bharadvajasana
    Bharadvajasana Seated Yoga Pose Twist

    i Hero and Reclining Hero Pose

    To counterpose the lotus element of the previous two marichyasana seated yoga poses, you could do hero pose (virasana). To help work towards reclining, try bent back hero and from there work towards reclining.

    Hero pose, virasana, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Hero Pose
    bent back hero pose. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Bent Back Hero
    reclining hero, supta virasana, Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
    Reclining Hero Pose

    i Compass Pose Preparation

    Compass pose preparation is a seated hamstring stretch. It's 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 seated yoga pose you can 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.

    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.
    Compass Pose Prep

    i Compass Pose

    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.

    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.
    Compass Pose

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


    Eka Pada Kundiyasana Modified

    Eka Pada Kundiyasana

    i Seated Forward Bend

    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.

    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.
    Seated Forward Bend

    Reclining or Belly Up Poses

    From seated poses, you could move next to reclining or supine yoga poses.

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