The quest for flexible hips despite having a desk-based job
I don't just teach yoga, I also write a great deal. In my other role, I am a writer and content creator (read: taking photographs and writing copy for brands for digital). So, I spend a good chunk of my time sitting on my behind.
I do get frustrated about this quite often as not only do I have a short attention span, but I also have a lot of energy and can't sit still for long. I get restless, agitated and in desperate need of a shake up and a walk about. So how do I maintain my flexibility, despite being sat at a desk for more hours than I like to acknowledge?
Here are a few tips that I've learned along the way, I hope they are useful to you.
I never sit for longer than 30-45 minutes without having a little move. This means trips to the kettle, a quick walk outside for some fresh air, doing some wall yoga (yes - it's a thing), and having a little stretch for 5 minutes. Trust me, when you're sat for long periods, it feels so good to get up and have a move about and come back to your desk feeing re-energised and refreshed. It also does wonders for your body, helping to keep the hips and glutes supple and preventing back pain.
As mentioned above, I practise some form of wall yoga everyday now. It took me a while to get over the fact that some people in my office might think I was loony, but I couldn't really care less now. I need to move and stretch often, so using the wall as a prop to do some basic yoga poses such as Downdog, Triangle, Lunge, Heart Melting Pose and Forward Fold is such a great habit to get into at work - whether you're in an office or at home. I'd recommend googling some wall yoga poses to practice and weaving them into your week, but the above poses are my favourites to practice against the wall.
We sit for long periods of time, in the worst possible way: with our bums glued to the chair and our legs bent over the seat. Not only does this shorten the hip flexors, leading over time to excessive tightness and hip or back pain, but it is terrible for our glute muscles. When I teach 1:to:1's and classes, I always notice a lack of glute strength in many of my students who have desk-based jobs. Weak and overly tight glutes can be the culprit for all sorts of injuries in our hips and backs, so it's really important that we stretch them out after sitting for ages. I really love to sit cross-legged on my chair (shoes off), and often move to the sofa to sit more comfortably in a cross-legged position. If sitting cross-legged is not an option for you, why not try introducing a standing desk for a few hours in your day? This is a great way to decrease the amount of time you spend sitting down. Make sure you don't end up slouching, try and keep a tall spine to protect your lower back and improve posture.
This is a big one for me. Leaving work and going straight home to sit on the sofa is my idea of hell, but then I told you I struggle to do nothing! But honestly, I can't recommend having a good old stretch on your yoga mat or in the gym after work enough. Not only will it help undo all those hours where your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors were shortened from sitting on a chair, but it will re-energise you and make you feel more alive after a day of little movement. Another tip I have, which seems kind of obvious, is to walk more. Instead of walking to your nearest train station 10 minutes away, why not walk a little further to one that's less close and enjoy the fresh air after being cooped up in an office all day? Not only will you have walked more steps, which is always a good thing, but you'll be giving your legs a good stretch too.
I hope this helps, let me know in the comments below.