Some days, it’s just not possible to put in a full hour of yoga. Between busy work schedules, kids’ schedules, appointments and finding the time to do things you love the most, sometimes yoga doesn’t fit into your daily schedule.
Maybe you want to introduce yoga into your life, but unsure how.
Maybe you want to spend a few moments a day working on yoga to stretch some key parts of your body that need some extra attention in between appointments.
Whatever the reason may be, think of this sequence as a maintenance plan that will keep you running smoothly until you have time for a full tune-up.
All visuals of stretches are available via Youtube.
The first few pelvic tilts will reveal any traces of low back pain and stiffness. Do them slowly and keep going until the movement feels fluid. After 10 to 20 reps, notice if you feel any relief in your back.
Remember that pelvic tilts are subtle. You’re simply rocking your hips towards your face, without lifting your butt off the floor. Start off with your lower back just slightly curved, and as you perform the movement you should feel your lower back pressing into the floor.
Continue warming up the back with 5 to 10 cat-to-cow stretches. If the movement feels familiar, it’s because the pelvis is moving in essentially the same way as in the pelvic tilt. The cat-to-cow stretch extends that movement along the entire spine, helping to awaken and invigorate your whole body, increasing flexibility in the spine.
Initiate each movement from your tailbone and let it ripple up the spine, moving your head last of all.
Downward Facing Dog
From hands and knees, press back into downward facing dog. Bend your knees and reach your butt up high, then slowly straighten the legs. Use any other movements that help you settle into the pose.
When you feel ready, hold the posture for 5 to 10 breaths, pedaling your legs (bend one knee, then the other) if you want to further stretch the hamstrings, calves, and feet.
Step your right foot forward next to your right hand, coming into a low lunge. You may want to drop your back knee down to the floor at first for a nice stretch in both hips.
Keep the back leg straight and lifted if you want to begin to work into your hamstrings, which run along the back side of your thighs.
Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
Standing Forward Bend
Swan dive down into the standing forward bend. To get a good hamstring stretch, move into the fold slowly. Once folded, you can choose how you want to hang out in this shape. Options include bending the knees, clasping opposite elbows with opposite hands, or pedaling the legs.
If that’s easy, try slipping your upturned palms under your feet. Another modification is to bend the knees and bring the palms flat next to your feet, then work on straightening the legs while keeping the palms flat. When you do this pose at home, you can take as much time as you want with it, a chance you don’t often get in a class.
For your hip opener, do the pigeon pose and place padding under your hips as necessary. From downward-facing dog, bring your right knee forward to the floor on the outside of your right hand. Release your left knee to the floor. Square your hips towards the front of your mat. If you feel stable, bring your torso down into a forward bend over your right leg.
It’s best to stay in a forward fold in pigeon for 10 to 20 deep breaths to give your body time to release. If you do this every day, you’ll really notice a difference.
Mountain Pose & Raised Arms
Walk your feet to the front of the mat until you’re standing in a forward bend. Bend the knees and slowly roll up to stand in mountain pose.
From here you may want to do several half sun salutations. Try to match each breath with a movement as you do the sequence of poses. If you have the time and the inclination, you can do full sun salutations, a longer version of the sequence, instead.
From mountain pose, take the arms out to the side and up to the ceiling. Press the palms together, coming into raised arm pose and invite the shoulders to relax.