Use these 12 seated yoga poses to boost your mobility

These beginner-friendly, seated yoga poses come recommended by the experts

Woman doing seated yoga pose next to a pool
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Seated yoga poses allow you to get in a good stretch while resting on the floor. Unlike some challenging one-legged yoga poses, they don't test out your balance or require high levels of flexibility. 

Because of this, most seated poses (or asanas) make great yoga stretches for beginners. All you'll need to get started is a good yoga mat and some time to practice.

We spoke to a range of teachers to get the low-down on their favorite seated exercises. Read on for a step-by-step guide to each pose along with some expert demonstrations.

1. Seated pretzel with Laura Pearce

Laura Pearce, yoga teacher, sits doing seated pretzel position, with her legs bent to the side and her top knee lifted

(Image credit: Laura Pearce)

  • Sit on the ground with your legs bent and placed to one side. Your thigh bones should be at 90 degrees from one another: one should be in front of you, the other out to the side.
  • Lift the side leg's knee as high as you can. You probably won't be able to hold this one long, so keep practicing! This will work your external rotation mobility.

2. Seated pretzel targeting internal rotation mobility with Laura Pearce

Laura Pearce, yoga teacher, sits in a seated pretzel position, with her legs bent to the side and knee slightly lifted

(Image credit: Laura Pearce)

• To work your internal rotation mobility, do the same thing as above but try to lift your foot as high as you can instead of the knee.

Headshot of Laura Pearce
Laura Pearce

Laura Pearce is a senior breathwork and yoga instructor and the founder of Yoga Collective, London. Her yoga journey began early on in life as her congenital heart condition caused her to struggle with breathing issues (dyspnoea). This led her to explore all manner of breathwork modalities, from Yoga and Pranayama, to freediving and altitude training. 

3. Shoelace with Holly O’ Rourke

Holly O'Rourke, yoga teacher, demonstrates the shoelace pose

(Image credit: Holly O'Rourke)

  • From a seated position, cross one leg over the other and position yourself so that your knees are vertically stacked. 
  • Go deeper into the stretch by taking your feet as far apart from one another as you can comfortably. Slowly lean forward, rounding your spine and folding at the hips.

4. Camel pose suggested by Holly O’ Rourke

Woman performing camel move in park

(Image credit: Getty Images)

  • Start in a kneeling position, with your shins flush on the floor and your thighs and body in an upright position. 
  • Bring your hands back to the base of your spine with your face to the sky, then slowly bend back and reach for your heels. To deepen the stretch, pull up on your heels and bring your shoulder blades together
Headshot of Holly O’Rourke
Holly O'Rourke

Holly is a yoga teacher from Liverpool in the UK, specializing in vinyasa and ashtanga based practices. 

5. Neck stretch with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates a neck stretch

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit cross legged with a tall spine, begin with a few gentle neck rolls one way then the other, noticing how the neck feels. 
  • Next, bring the head back to center then drop the right ear towards the right shoulder, possibly using the right hand to gently pull the head towards the shoulder and walking the fingertips of the left hand out on the ground to increase the stretch. 
  • Allow the head to relax and stay here for two to three minutes before slowly easing out. Then repeat on the other side.

6. Seated cat and cow with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

  • Sit cross legged with a tall spine, then place hands on knees, inhale to arch the back and lift the chest (cow).
  • Exhale to round the back and tuck the chin (cat), promoting spinal flexibility and relieving tension in the back and neck.

7. Seated forward fold (paschimottanasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates a seated forward fold

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit up tall with legs extended out in front of you. Inhale and lengthen the spine.
  • Exhale as you fold forward, hinging at the hips. Think about lengthening the crown of the head forward and keeping your back as flat as possible for an active stretch of the back and hamstrings. Hold for 10+ rounds of breath.

8. Revolved head to knee pose (parivrtta janu sirsasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates revolved head to knee pose

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit with the legs out in front of you in a wide v-shape, as wide as feels comfortable for your body. From there, bend the left knee and place the foot against the inner thigh of the right leg. 
  • Drop your forearm to the inside of the extended leg and then reach the left arm up and over as if you were reaching for the right toes, but with a focus on keeping the torso facing forward and open, not down towards the leg for a side body stretch. Repeat on the other side.

9. Cradle (hindolasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates cradle pose

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit tall with your legs out in front of you, you can keep your left leg extended, or bend your left knee, bringing your left heel to the groin. 
  • From here, bend your right knee in toward you, lift and flex the foot, taking it in your left hand and gently sway from side to side as the right knee draws up towards the right armpit. 
  • Continue to sit tall, lengthening up through your spine. If it feels accessible for your body, you can bring your right knee to the crook of your right elbow and your right foot into the crook of your left elbow. Repeat on the other side.

10. Lord of the fishes pose (ardha matsyendrasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates lord of the fishes pose

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit with both legs extended, then lift the right foot, cross over the left leg and place the foot back down to the mat outside of the left knee. 
  • Sit up tall, lengthening the spine then twist to your left, hugging the knee into the chest and keeping the right foot grounded. Place your left hand just behind you. It should support you as you twist just the torso. 

11. Boat pose (navasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, demonstrates boat pose

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit with knees bent and feet on the mat, then tilt back to shift your balance onto the sit bones. 
  • Engage the core, lift the legs off the ground starting with knees bent and calves parallel to the mat, then extend the arms forward. This pose helps build core strength, which plays an important role in improving stability and posture.

12. Supported fish pose (matsyasana) with Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle Maslin-Taylor, yoga teacher, doing supported fish pose

(Image credit: Michelle Maslin-Taylor)

  • Sit with legs extended, place a block or bolster on your mat, so that it will be positioned between the shoulder blades when you lie down. Place another block where your head will rest. 
  • Lean back onto the props, and relax as you experience an opening across the chest and shoulders.
Headshot of Michelle Taylor
Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle is an experienced yoga teacher and reiki master. Her teaching weaves together yoga poses, reiki practices and yoga psychology. She first started practicing yoga over 15 years ago and found in instrumental to overcoming depression and anxiety. She is a writer and teacher, delivering specialist workshops both online and in-person in the UK. 

What are the benefits of seated yoga?

There are many benefits of yoga. It can help you strengthen your core muscle, boost your mobility and improve your mood, too. Seated yoga is good for people who want to access these benefits but find some elements of standing yoga too challenging (we can't all balance on one leg). 

You can often modify seated yoga poses to be done in comfortable settings too, like a couch or armchair. This kind of gentle practice is great for those with limited mobility or for anyone who wants a tranquil start to the day. 

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.