Are you feeling tight, tense, tired or troubled? You may want to invest in a regular stretching routine to increase your flexibility, beat stress and refocus your mind. Try this easy, 10-step yoga routine daily and be amazed as it opens your joints, relaxes your muscles and obliterates the blues. Ten minutes practice of simple yoga poses each day will iron out your kinks, super-charge you with energy and wash your worries away! The first six poses are done on your back or seated and can be done before you even get out of bed. All are a great way to start or end your day.
1. BABY POSE – Start by lying on your back (supine) and bring your knees to your chest. Hug your legs and rock side to side for 3 or more deep breaths. You can also hold your feet or behind your thighs. We all need a hug and some babying now and then. Give yourself that relief!
2. BRIDGE POSE – Press your feet and palms flat to floor, then lift your hips toward the ceiling. Squeeze your gluteal muscles upward and pull your abs in for 3 breaths. Lift and lower your hips as needed, setting your tailbone down last to lengthen your spine and ease lower-back pain.
3. BACK TWIST – Supine stretch on the floor, reaching your hands and feet apart. Then hug one knee to your chest and hold that knee with the opposite hand, taking it across the body, twisting your lower spine. Turn your face away from the crossing knee and flatten your shoulder blades. Take 3 breaths. Spinal twisting whisks away tension and toxins that collect along the spine.
4. BEGINNER PLOW POSE – Holding your legs near your calves, pull your shins over your face until your tailbone leaves the floor. Rest the head/shoulders down as you hold your legs for 3 breaths. You can lift and lower your tailbone as needed. Plow pose helps blood circulation in your legs and keeps them from getting “restless.” The image below depicts the “full” plow pose but beginner or “half” plow is done with support of the legs or back with the hands, a chair or an open wall.
5. COBBLER POSE – The “shoe-maker” pose. Rock up to sit with souls of your feet together, knees apart to open your hips. Bend forward, rounding your spine. Keep your head down toward your feet for 3 breaths. This pose opens the spine and hips and staves off neck and shoulder tension. Great for anyone who sits at a computer desk or behind the wheel for hours each day.
6. SEATED FORWARD BEND – Seated upright, extend your legs forward and fold your spine at the waist. Your forehead will drop toward your knees. Hold or hug your legs, stretching forward while keeping your tummy tight. Take 3 full breaths. One of the best poses to stretch your posterior – from your feet to the base of your skull. Neck, back, hip, hamstring and calve tension no more!
7. CAT/COW POSE – Turning over onto your hands and knees, arch your spine by tucking your tailbone and looking toward your naval (Cat Pose). Exhale completely. On your inhale, sway your back so your hips lift up and your belly drops and look upward (Cow Pose). Flex your spine through Cat and Cow for 3 repetitions and 3 breaths. This combination makes your spine supple.
8. DOWN-DOG POSE – Rise up onto your hands and feet. Press your hips toward the ceiling and your chest toward the knees. Straighten your arms and legs with flat palms and heels toward the floor, holding in your waist. Take 3 complete breaths. Down-dog opens the whole body, strengthens every major muscle group and keeps you from feeling down. Get it? Good!
9. COBRA/UP-DOG – Lower your knees back to the floor and thrust your hips forward, resting your legs. Shoulders stay back and down as you look up (Cobra). Lift onto the balls of your feet, knees coming off the floor. Keep your hips forward, arms straight and look up higher (Up-Dog). Take your best 3 deep breaths. Cobra into Up-Dog strengthens the shoulders, opens the hips and simulates an easy back-bend – great for your abs and spine!
10. CHILD’S POSE – Time to rest! Sink your seat onto your heels with knees apart. Drop your belly between your thighs, lower your arms and head to rest on the floor. Take 3 or more breaths, really letting go and giving into gravity. This pose helps you give in to relaxation and recharge your energy systems.
*You can also flip onto your back for “Corpse Pose,” the final relaxation pose in most yoga routines. Both poses help open the mind and promote serenity, allowing deep focus for meditation as the body surrenders. Observe your breath to find quiet stillness within. Visualize yourself on a relaxing vacation, concentrate on a beautiful image or chant the sacred “Om” to clear your mind for a few minutes each day. The practice will wash your cares away.
**BONUS – Try kneeling or standing Back Bends to align your spine and pelvis or a standing balance like Tree Pose to deepen your mental focus and correct your posture.
These easy poses can be the basis for keeping your body and mind free of daily tension or for an expanded yoga routine. Remember to start simple, go gentle and always breathe deeply as you move ahead. As with all exercise routines, consult your physician before you begin. I hope these poses help you to live better and develop the peace and freedom you wish to feel. Be well! ~Namaste.