I Should Go Do Yoga...Daily
One of the hardest things about being a yoga teacher is keeping up with my own practice every day, and I LOVE yoga! So I know how hard it can be to make the time for a full yoga class, either at home or out at a studio.
To help, I've put together some really simple yoga postures which you can practice daily (first thing in the morning is best) and which won't take up too much of your valuable sleeping time!
Child's Pose with side stretches
Everyone loves child's pose, so start there, with your weight back on your heels, and the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Extend your hands out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor.
After a few breaths, keeping your head low to the ground, walk your hands over to the right, as far as they will go without lifting your left buttock off the heel. The whole of the left side of your body should be stretching into a C-shape. Breathe here for 5 breaths and then walk the hands over to the left and repeat on the other side.
If you've been to a yoga class you've probably done quite a few of these, and there's a reason for that! They work the whole body, get the body moving with the breath and start building up the flow of blood and oxygen around the body, getting you warmed up and energised!
Start standing, with your feet hip-distance apart, hands by your sides and shoulders rolled back. Inhale and stretch your hands overhead. On the exhale, soften the knees and fold forwards from the hips, keeping the spine as long and straight as you can.
On the next inhale, lift your torso half-way so it's parallel to the floor, extending the straightening the spine. Exhale and fold forward again.
On the next inhale, plant the hands and step back into a plank position. On the exhale, lower the knees to the floor and then lower the chest to the floor, keeping the spine straight and the elbows hugged in tight to the sides. Soften the hips down to the floor and flatten the tops of the feet. Inhale and press through the hands and feet to lift the chest and look forward into your cobra pose. Exhale and press the weight back, lifting the hips up and back into downward-facing dog.
Inhale and look forwards, stepping forward into your forward-fold. Inhale and lift the hands all the way overhead, stretching up fully. Exhale the hands down into your starting position.
For a break-down of each of these poses see my quick-tips videos here. Repeat the sun-salutations at least 3 times to start with, building up to 5 times or more over time.
This posture stretches out the psoas muscle which lies deep in our hip creases and can be one of the causes of back pain and poor posture. From downward-facing dog, step forward with the left leg and plant the foot between the hands. Drop the back knee and engage the core to lift the hands overhead.
Re-position if you need to, so your left knee is directly above the ankle. Draw the shoulder-blades down the back and engage the arms and finger-tips, lifting up to the sky. You should feel a stretch in the right hip. If not, sink the hips a little lower, but keep that lift through the fingers and the core engaged! Stay here for 5 breaths before moving to the next posture, then come back and repeat on the other side.
Low Lunge with Twists
From the above position, exhale and drop the right hand down to the floor, beside the foot. Inhale and lift the left hand up to the sky, twisting the torso to the left. Try and engage the inner left thigh so the knee doesn't roll outwards. Stay for 5 breaths, then drop the left hand to the floor and twist to the other side.
Tip: drop the left hand inside the knee, and press the knee into the shoulder and the shoulder into the knee to stay balanced.
Repeat the above posture and these twists on the other side.
Forward-fold with Shoulder Stretch
To take a normal forward fold, from standing bend the knees and rest the stomach onto the thighs. If you need to bend the knees deeply to do this then go ahead!
From here, try to gently straighten the legs, while keeping the tummy as close to the thighs as you can. Go to where you feel the stretch in the hamstrings and stay there. Soften into your breath, close your eyes and let your head hang heavy. Hold onto your elbows with your hands and softly swing from side to side, allowing gravity to lengthen out your spine.
To add the shoulder stretch, interlace your fingers behind your back and squeeze your elbows and shoulder-blades together to send your hands up and overhead. Keep your head and neck relaxed, and don't force it! Stay for 5 breaths, or longer if you can, before gently releasing the hands to the floor, and slowly coming back up to standing.
A hip and groin stretch to counter-act sitting all day! While seated, bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Try to sit up as straight as you can, and hold on to your ankles or shins for support.
You can stay still in this position, or 'flap' your knees up and down gently to ease out the tension in the groin or hips. Keep breathing and continue for as long as you feel comfortable. Practising this daily will really help you see a change in your pelvic range of motion and hip flexibility!
So there you have it! Some simple postures to practise daily when you just can't find the time for a full practice or to get to class. For more at-home practices see the blog posts below, or get 7 days of full yoga sequences directly into your inbox here.