Too busy for yoga this week?
I get it.
It’s that thing called ‘life’ isn’t it?
It adds up, right? All those things we do between rising in the morning and hitting the hay at night. Work, family commitments, school schedules, grocery shopping, keeping the grass down, extra-curricular activities (and a whole lot more!) can see a yoga session plummet way down the to-do list.
But here’s the thing. Busy times are usually the times we need yoga the most.
As an ultimate and holistic self-care practice, yoga will not only have you feeling good in the moment, but will help you show up much better in all areas of your life - even when you’re busy. Plus, when you punctuate a frantic schedule with even the tiniest burst of yoga, ‘busy’ gets much more manageable.
So, in honour of a healthy balance between busy and blissful, we’ve put together a simple, well-rounded practice - that you can complete in around 10 minutes.
Take your time
Although 10 minutes isn’t long, don’t be tempted to rush through this sweet sequence. Instead, approach every pose with care, mindfulness and breath. That way, those 10 minutes will feel more like a long, indulgent session on the mat.
Clear some space, pop on your yoga pants and set a timer - it’s yoga time!
Before launching into movement, honour yourself and your practice with a few moments of quiet stillness. This allows you to arrive - mentally, physically and emotionally - for your practice.
Sit on your mat in Easy-crossed-leg pose (Sukhasana). Ensure the spine is tall, limbs and face relaxed.
Suspending all judgement, notice how you feel on a physical level right now. Any aches, pain or discomfort? Warmth or coolness?
Move on to notice the textures of your mind. Is it busy, jumbled, tired, spacious, clear, or focussed?
Now, assess your emotions. Ask yourself honestly, ‘How am I, right now?’ Whatever comes up, simply observe your findings and move on.
Now come in close to your breath. Notice the air entering and leaving the nostrils. How does your breath feel, in this moment? Fast, slow, shallow, deep, smooth, rough.
Begin to unravel your spine with a few rounds of a wave-like Cat-cow sequence.
Set your hands hands shoulder-distance apart, knees hip-distance apart. Relax your face, and find your breath. As you breathe in, lift your tail and gaze as you curve into a backbend. As you breathe out, round the spine toward the sky, drawing the navel into the spine as you look though your legs.
Timing: 6 rounds.
Key benefits: Cat-cow eases lower-back niggles and gently tones the tummy.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog (Ardho-mukha-svanasana)
Next time you round up into cat, tuck the toes under, lift the knees and glide the hips back into downward facing dog. Wake up the hamstrings by bending into one knee, then the other.
After stretching out, move into a still downward-facing dog. Press the hands and feet evenly into the mat - feel the spine lengthen. (Are your heels way off the ground? Never fear - not everyone has super-stretchy hamstrings! In the meantime, bend into the knees and keep the sit-bones high. This will help keep the spine long, which is the main aim of the pose)
Timing: Enjoy 5-10 generous breaths here.
Key benefits: The arms and legs get a solid stretch, while the gentle inversion creates a wave of calm for the mind and nervous system.
Want more? Try exhaling through the mouth with your tongue out while making a long ‘hahhh’ sound.
Rag Doll - Forward Bend
Rag-doll hang (Uttanasana)
Tip-toe the feet forward til they reach the hands. Allow the upper body to cascade over the thighs in a rag-doll-like fashion. Let the arms dangle, or cup each elbow in the opposite hand. Give your head a waggle ‘yes’ and a gentle shake ‘no’ to iron out any tensions in the neck.
Key benefits: Uttanasana soothes the mind, improves blood circulation and digestion, relaxes tight muscles around the spine.
Want more? Rest your buttocks against a wall for a super-relaxing uttanasana experience.
Tadasana - Mountain Pose
Grounding the feet firmly, begin to rise up slowly, stacking each vertebra on top of the other till you are standing tall. Check in with your feet - is the weight distributed evenly? Align your crown over your tail, while celebrating the natural curves of the spine. Conjure a sense of heaviness at your fingertips as you rest the hands lightly beside the body, together with a sense of lightness at the crown, as it grows toward the sky.
Key benefits: Tadasana brings the spine into smooth alignment while creating space and length through the torso.
Let’s get back to a little bit of movement, to open up the sides of the torso and create a sense of lift at the heart.
As you inhale, raise the hands out to the sides and lift them to meet above the head, (palms touching if that’s comfortable). As you exhale, return the arms to rest beside the body. Remember to keep the face relaxed, and the shoulders away from the ears.
Timing: 5 rounds.
Key benefits: Encourages deeper breathing and lifts flagging spirits.
From tadasana step the feet wide, to face the long edge of your mat. Turn the right foot toward the short edge of the mat, and turn the left foot in on a slight angle. As you breathe in, raise the arms to shoulder height. As you breathe out, reach the right hand out over the right foot and windmill it down to rest comfortably somewhere on the right leg. Line up the wrists and shoulders of both arms as the left fingers point to the sky, palm facing away from you.
Timing: 5 breaths, the switch sides.
Key benefits: Tones lateral muscles of the torso, strengthens the legs and feet.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog (Ardho-mukha-svanasana)
Transition to some floor-cased poses by revisiting downward facing dog.
Timing: 5 breaths
Come to rest on the floor with the legs bent. Ground the feet, hip-width apart and rest the arms loosely beside the body. Tuck the chin toward the chest to ensure the back of the neck is long and comfortable.
Close your eyes and allow the breath to settle into a smoothe, relaxed rhythm.
Key benefits: Constructive rest invites gravity to organise the spine to alignment while you rest and recalibrate. Releases tensions in the psoas muscle too.
Turn the palms down and find the breath. On an inhale, press into the feet and lift the hips up away from the mat. Exhale as you gently return the spine, vertebra by vertebra, to earth. Repeat twice more.
Key benefits: Backbends boost energy and keep the spine strong and supple.
Windscreen Wiper Twist
Widen the feet to mat-width apart. Exhale as you drop both legs to the right, inhale back up the the start position. Exhale as you drop to the left. This makes one round.
Timing: 3 rounds
Key benefits: Twists deliver a loving squeeze to the digestive organs and stretch out tight back muscles.
Even though this a quick sequence, you must make time for savasana!
Lie flat on your back, palms up and legs a little way apart, feet relaxed. Tuck the chin in slightly, and feel you are lying symmetrically. Surrender the weight of your body to the earth beneath you, and commit to stillness. Give yourself permission to simply rest.
Key benefits: Promotes relaxation throughout the whole body, which in turn, promotes a still mind.
Timing: 1-2 minutes.
Help your body and mind drop into a restful state quickly and deeply by doing a ‘full body squeeze’ first.
From your savasana position, breathe in as you tightly squeeze every muscle you can think of - tense the feet, legs, buttocks, make a fist with the hands, screw up the face - and the let go of the tension as you breathe out.
Before rising, take a moment to ‘check-out’, observing how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally after your practice.
Timing isn’t everything
A long yoga practice certainly feel great. But really, when it comes to yoga, consistency and dedication trump the time-frame, every time.
Minutes immersed in 1-2 poses every other day will grow your practice more effectively than an hour session taken now and then.
Regardless of what the clock says, thank yourself for taking the time to nurture yourself with yoga.
Now, pack up your mat quick-sticks - you’ve got a million things to do today!