Here is a great way to fit some yoga in, on those days when there just never seems to be enough time. This short sequence will help build core strength and release your spine, and leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and renewed in just about 10 minutes. Remember to focus on the breath, and move as you breathe. Repeat each pose 3-5 times. Take a time out to take care of you! Your body will thank you.
1. Cat / Cow
Cat and cow pose are wonderful to get the spine moving and keep it healthy by increasing circulation and reducing tension. Start on hands and knees, make sure the knees are under the hips, and the hands are under the shoulders. Start the movement at the tail bone, and move the spine one vertebrae at a time. On and inhale, reach the tailbone back, drop the belly, move the ribs away from the hips as you reach the heart center forward. On an exhale, tuck the tailbone under and round through the low back, mid back and upper back, moving bone by bone. Focus on moving one vertebra at a time, pay attention to any areas of limited mobility. It's also great to focus on reaching the tailbone back while reaching the heart center forward to help lengthen the spine.
2. Child’s Pose
I love starting classes in Child's Pose. It is such a great way to calm the body and draw your attention inwards, focusing on the breath, noticing the way it feels and sounds. Three part breath is my go to breath throughout most of my practice, but breathing into the back of the ribs in child's pose is heavenly. Focus on drawing the breath into the back of the ribs, feeling it expand the bottom of the lungs on the inhale, and softening the body deeper into the pose on the exhale. Try it and see how relaxed you feel!!
Start on hands and knees, and sit the hips back over the heels, reaching the hands forward. Inhale into the back of the ribs, and exhale sinking a little deeper into the pose. Focus on releasing through the spine, shoulders and neck.
3. Spinal Balance
Spinal balance is one of my favorite poses that I try to do every day. You get so much out of this pose, including strengthening the core, stabilizing the spine, & improving balance.
Start on all fours. Move into cat/ cow, then back to a neutral spine. Engage the abdominals and reach back with the right leg. Raise it to hip height, keeping the hips level. To help keep the hips square, think about internally rotation the right leg, or pressing the front of the right hip towards the ground. Once you have that foundation, reach out with the left arm. Keeping the core engaged, reach out from your strong center, lengthening the arm and leg away from the torso. Inhale to lengthen, exhale back to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
After a few rounds of spinal balance, you can add this great option! Inhale and reach out, & on the exhale, engage the abdominals, and draw the elbow to the knee. Inhale reaching and lengthening back out, then exhale back to hands and knees.
4. Bridge Pose
This articulating variation of bridge pose is another fundamental pose that is key in nurturing the low back. Not only does it strengthen almost every muscle in the core and lower body, but it also helps move spinal fluid through the spine to nourish it even more.
Start laying down face up, and with the knees bent. Line up the knees directly over the ankles. On an inhale, initiate the movement by tucking the tailbone and lifting the hips up, one vertebrae at a time, rolling all the way up to the shoulders. To come back down, start at the base of the neck, rolling through each each vertebrae, one by one, dropping each vertebrae like a string of pearls.
A nice variation is to add the arms. As you inhale, roll up and reach the arms overhead. As you exhale, roll down and lower the arms back to the start position.
5. Knees to Chest
Knees to chest pose is the perfect counter pose following bridge pose, to calm your mind and re-balance your energy. It also releases tension through the back, and aids in digestion.
Hug the knees into the chest, gently rocking side to side. You can also move the hips in a circle, a few times clockwise and a few times counter clockwise.
To release the low back a bit more, and bathe those discs in that spinal fluid again, move into this twist. From knees to chest, drop the knees to the side towards the ground. Inhale as you lengthen through the belly, ribs and chest, and exhale, softening the belly and relaxing into the twist a bit more. Let go of any muscles where you are gripping or feeling tension.
6. Happy Baby
For an even more calming hip release, give Happy Baby a try. Not only does this help gently release the hips, back and sacrum, but it also helps bring relief from fatigue and stress. Lay down face up, bringing the knees to the chest. Keep the heels together and bring the knees apart. Grab the feet with the hands, and open the feet, pulling the knees towards the chest. Hold it here, or gently rock side to side. Remember that deep abdominal breath for the most relaxation.
Finish your mini-practice by bringing the knees to the chest for just a breath or two, then extending them out straight. If you have a few minutes for a mini relaxation, take a few deep abdominal breaths, by expanding the belly like a big balloon on the inhales, and softening the entire body on the exhales. Close your eyes and enjoy relaxing for just a few minutes.
Give it a try and let me know how you feel!
For more poses like this that you can easily and conveniently fit into your busy day, check out the Five Day Yoga Challenge! Five videos less than 10 minutes each, delivered right to your in box, to help you feel more energy & less stress!