What are some basic and advanced seated yoga poses?

Have you ever tried seated yoga poses? The benefits of seated yoga are many, including improved flexibility and range of motion in the body. It is a useful way to challenge your physical and mental states and release stiff muscles.

Seated yoga poses do not have to be part of a yoga practice, but can also be practiced repeatedly at home, without the guidance of an instructor.

Some basic seated yoga poses include:

1) Position of staff

The Staff Pose is an easy seated yoga pose that stretches the legs, chest, and shoulders and promotes postural awareness. For seated postures, Staff Pose serves as the basis for alignment. It looks simple at first glance, but it involves careful attention to detail, much like mountain pose.

To do this exercise:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your legs stretched out in front of you. Take an accessory under your seat if your spine rounds.
  • Move the flesh of your butt to each side with your hands so that you sit on your bones and have a solid base on the floor.
  • Engage your legs by flexing both feet.
  • Gently pull your navel towards your spine as you inhale.
  • Lift your shoulders away from your ears and relax.
  • On either side of your seat, press your palms to the floor.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position with your chin neither tucked in nor elevated.

2) Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)

The back of the body is stretched with a seated forward bend, including the hamstrings, calves, glutes, and back muscles. Each forward bend should begin with a forward tilt of the pelvis (anterior rotation) rather than a flexion (rounding) of the spine.

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How to do the seated forward fold:

  • In Staff Pose, bend your knees and bring your hands to the floor in line with your knees.
  • Take several deep breaths and fully exhale to enter the pose.
  • Raise your arms toward the ceiling as you inhale, making sure not to arch your back.
  • Moving slowly and pausing at the beginning of each breath will help you avoid straining.
  • If your knees are touching and you can’t reach your feet, use a strap or other object to help you get into position.
  • Continue to breathe into the pose until you can stretch your legs without rounding the spine.

3) Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Stretching the hamstrings on the straight leg and the inner thigh and hip on the bent leg is beneficial. Janu Sirsasana allows you to work on each leg separately, resulting in a deeper hamstring stretch than you would get with both legs straight. On the bent leg, it also helps expand the inner thigh and hip.

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To do this exercise:

  • If you are in Staff Pose, place your left foot on the inside of your right thigh.
  • Raise your arms above your head and flex your right foot.
  • Exhale as you lean forward on your right leg, keeping a flat back thinking of your trajectory as forehead to shin.
  • When you have reached your deepest bend, hold the position for several breaths before sitting down and switching legs to the other side.

Some advanced seated yoga poses include:

1) Pose of the Half-Lords of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

This seated yoga stretches the rectus femoris, upper back, sides of the body (serratus anterior and erector spinae) and pelvic muscles.

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To do this pose:

  • From the cross-legged position, bring your left knee toward the center of your body and place the sole of your right foot flat on the floor outside your left thigh.
  • Bend your right knee so it points toward the ceiling, then place your right hand behind you and your left elbow on the outside of that knee.
  • Be sure to activate both hands by lightening with your fingertips and also press hard into the floor from heel to toe with your right foot.
  • Then lengthen the spine with each inhale, deepen the twist with each exhale looking over the shoulder or keeping the nose aligned with the navel.

2) Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

The upper arms, back muscles, glutes, and outer thighs are all stretched in the seated cow facing yoga pose. Consider using a folded blanket to put under your seat and a tied arm strap.

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To do this pose:

  • Sit in a seated position with the heel of your lower leg on the outside of your opposite hip.
  • Pull your other heel inward so you can stack your knees and make sure both glutes are on the floor.
  • Sit up straight while extending one arm towards your shoulder blades and extending the other arm behind you.
  • Hook your fingers or grab a strap and lift your chest while bending at the waist.

3) Compass Pose (Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana)

The compass is a difficult posture that requires great flexibility. Take it slow and stop whenever necessary to allow tight spots to open up over time.

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Here’s how:

  • From a cross-legged position, pull your left foot into your chest with both arms, tucking your left arm under your left leg.
  • Grasp the outside of your left foot with your right hand and straighten your left leg and right arm to pull yourself through the opening between the left leg and right arm.
  • Open your chest to the side as you look up.


Seated yoga poses are helpful in so many ways, from calming your mind to allowing your body to take a break from more active poses. It is certainly worth spending time learning them and reaping their many benefits for your yoga practice.

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