Time is one of life’s most valuable resources. I often hear people say, “I’d love to do yoga if I had more time.” But everyone can make time for twenty minutes of yoga. It may involve getting up just a little earlier in the mornings, but it is so worth it.
If you don’t have time to make it to a yoga class, then doing a home yoga practice is your best option. I suggest going to classes when possible or hiring a teacher for a few private yoga sessions and supplementing with a home practice. The instructions from an experienced yoga teacher are important for ensuring proper alignment and to keep you from avoiding poses you don’t like, but need.
Every balanced yoga practice should include a warm-up of the major muscle groups, dynamic movements such as sun or moon salutations, twists, back bends, hip openers, and forward bends. Inversions are also great and complete a balanced practice, but if you’re doing a home practice without wall space you’ll need to be creative.
Below is a sample practice that stretches and strengthens the whole body. I am using the standing wide-leg forward bend and the one-legged hamstring stretch on the back as both the forward bends and inversions in this practice. As I mentioned before it is essential to go to a few classes to get the proper form and prevent injuries.
1. Child’s Pose – If this pose bothers the knees place a blanket where the knees bend to ease the amount of flexion in the knee joint. If the ankles do not feel comfortable here place a rolled up towel at the front of the ankle joint between the top of the foot and the floor.
2. Cat and Cow – Inhale in cow, and exhale in cat dynamically for 5-8 breaths.
3. Downward Facing Dog – You can bend the knees and lift the hips higher to press the chest back toward the thighs if the back is rounded. You may bend one knee at a time to stretch out the calves. Do this pose for 5 breaths.
4. Forward Bend – Walk the feet to the top of the mat and grab the elbows to bend forward providing traction for your spine. 5-8 breaths.
5. Roll to Standing – Roll yourself up, bit by bit like a rag doll.
6. Sun Salutations (3-5 rounds)
- Inhale, lift the arms above the head
- Exhale, bend forward
- Inhale, step the right foot back and lower the knee to the ground (keep the left knee at 90 degrees)
- Exhale, downward facing dog
- Inhale, shift forward to plank pose
- Exhale, lower to the belly
- Inhale, lift the chest into cobra – press firmly through the feet, keep the hips on the ground and bend the elbows
- Exhale, downward facing dog
- Inhale, step the right foot forward between the hands and lower the left knee to the ground
- Exhale, step the left foot to meet the right
- Inhale, reach the arms overhead and come up to standing
- Exhale, lower the hands in prayer at the heart
That completes half of a round. Repeat the instructions, stepping the left foot back and bringing the left foot forward to complete one whole round.
7. Extended Side Angle Pose – 8 breaths.
8. Triangle Pose – 8 breaths.
9. Standing Wide Leg Forward Bend – Hands interlaced behind the back. 5 breaths.
10. Lunge Twist – 5 breaths.
11. Bow Pose or Bridge Pose – 8 breaths.
12. Pigeon Pose or Thread the Needle – 15 breaths each side.
13. One-Legged Hamstring Stretch on the Back – 10 breaths each leg.
14. Savasana – Relaxation pose. 3 minutes.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.