With life as busy as it is, it’s often hard to find the time to attend a yoga class, let alone complete a full yoga practice at home. Many of us tend to drop the idea of a practice all together, thinking if we don’t have a full hour, then it’s just not worth it.
In reality, if you have just 10 to 15 minutes a day, hitting the mat can make a world of difference to your body and to your mind!
To make it easy on you, here are five yoga poses you can practice every day. That’s right, just 5! So tomorrow morning before you stumble to the kitchen for coffee, roll out that mat and enjoy. No excuses!
Cat-Cow Pose (Marjariasana/Bidalasana)
This dynamic pose is a great way to start your practice, as it cultivates stability and flexibility of your spine while strengthening your wrists, shoulders hips and knees.
Come onto your hands and knees, making sure your wrists are just below your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Lengthen your fingers and press the base of your palms into your mat to broaden your shoulders. As you exhale, release your tailbone downward, lifting your spine one vertebra at a time, rounding your back upward as your head naturally descends. At the end of the exhalation, the crown of your head releases downward and your chin tucks in, as you look towards your heart center. As you inhale, lift your tailbone, lowering your spine one vertebra at a time as your chest an head lift. Breathe through 5 to 10 rounds of this fluid like movement and enjoy the spinal massage! For a bonus stretch, come back to starting position and try moving your body laterally to form a C on each side as you exhale!
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is number one, as it’s a great way to wake up every part of your body!
From Cat Cow Pose, come to a neutral spine position, tuck your toes and lift your hips into the air. Your chest should move towards your thighs as your head relaxes between your arms, which are straight but not hyper-extended. You can keep your knees bent and start to walk your dog by pushing one heel towards the ground at a time. If your heels don’t touch the ground, don’t stress, just keep pressing the base of your palms into the earth, reaching those hips skyward and lengthening your spine as you take 5 to 10 deep breaths through your nose!
Wide Leg Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
A nice twist on the standard forward fold, this inversion helps to lengthen your spine, stretch your hamstrings and find calmness and clarity for your day ahead.
From a standing position, widen your leg stance to about a leg-length and square off the outer edges of your feet. Place your hands on your hips, take a deep breath in through your nose, and hinge forward at the hips as you exhale. Try to keep your spine long as you do so. Relax your head and neck and take your weight into the balls of your feet as you take your hands to the floor, fingertips in line with toes, if they reach. If not they can rest on your hips, the backs of your calves or on a stack of books! Keep your knees a little bent if your hamstrings are tight, or if you are really stable in the pose, give yourself an extra shoulder opener by interlacing your hands behind your back and releasing your hands towards the floor. Breathe 5 to 10 deep breaths as you feel your spine lengthen.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This pose is one of the classic poses used to ground and stabilize. It powers up the legs and core, and the subtle twisting of the spine allows you to open up your heart space as well. Feel the love!
From a standing position, widen your leg stance to about a leg-length. Turn the right foot out to the side, ensuring the heel is aligning with the center arch of the left foot. Take the left heel out slightly as well. Bring your arms parallel to the ground and reach out to the right side as you exhale, keeping both legs straight with the thighs engaged. When you can’t reach any further, pivot the arms so they are in one line, moving in opposite directions. The chest remains open and the torso lengthens, especially the right side. If it's comfortable and you have the balance, focus your gaze toward your top thumb.
Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matysendrasana)
This classic twist increases the flexibility in your spine, enhances lung capacity and gives a kickstart to your digestive system.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, or on a blanket if you have tight hips. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. If you can’t quite reach, just place your hand on the outside of your right knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor. With every inhalation grow taller and twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don't concentrate it in the lower back. Take 5 to 10 deep, slow breaths, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
That’s five, and believe us, it’s not easy to stop there! But with these poses alone, you will increase the flexibility of your spine and energize your body while connecting with yourself.
Have a few more minutes to spare? Then definitely throw in the most important yoga pose of all - Savasana, AKA corpse pose. Lie on your mat, on your back with your legs and arms slightly away from your torso. Take a deep breath in; as you breathe out relax your entire body and feel its renewed energy. Try to stay relaxed and still as you focus on the natural rhythm of your breath.
Let our Brand Warrior Michael Toru lead you through these five poses:
This article was written for Warrior Addict by the fantastic Alicia Anka, Mediterranean-based yoga teacher and writer.