I may be a yoga instructor, but even I have days when I wonder whether I’ve got time to practice. It took me a while to work out that I just need to do what I can do when I can do it – so, rather than waiting until I have two hours for my yoga practice, sometimes I just do a few minutes here or there.
Sometimes you roll out your mat with good intentions, but it all goes out the window. Other times you find you’ve suddenly got a whole hour done. Whether you don’t have time to get into a proper flow today or don’t know where to start, I’ve compiled four easy moves you can do anywhere to stretch, slow down and just take a moment to breathe.
As Harvard Medical School notes, yoga has a wealth of health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to improving cardiovascular fitness. And most importantly, it’s fun!
Getting low with this movement will hopefully make you feel very grounded and calm. It also strengthens your entire legs and lower body. Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip width, pointing out. Slowly lower your hips as low to the ground as possible, without your bum touching the ground. Ensure your knees are bent and pointing toward the ceiling. Bring your hands together in a prayer position, and your elbows in between your legs. Your feet may raise a little and that’s okay – just try to keep them as flat as possible. Try to straighten your torso as much as possible without tipping backward. Hold and enjoy the stretch.
Like all inversions, this movement is great for calming the mind. But it also has the added benefit of stretching and opening the shoulders and upper body. While standing, interlace your hands behind your back. Then, bend your knees and push your bum back while folding your body forward and keeping your arms straight. When you do so your arms should raise above your body to stretch and open your upper body. Hold this movement, ensuring you are breathing deeply.
This really is a yoga fundamental that I’m sure you’ve heard of before. It’s great for toning your core, glutes and inner thighs as well as honing your concentration. Begin standing, and as you breathe out lift your left foot and place it about 4-5 feet behind your right foot, with your heels in line. Your right foot should be facing forward, with your left foot at a 45 degree angle. Twist your torso to the left side and as you do raise your arms so they are straight out from our body, parallel to the ground and your legs. Look forward over your right arm, and with every out breath try to sink a little lower. Repeat on the other side.
This is a terrific movement for stretching out tense muscles and preparing your body for more advanced exercises. It’s also known as runners’ lunge as it’s particularly good if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Begin in a low lunge position before gently lowering your back knee to the ground. Then, sit back and straighten your front leg, keeping your heel planted on the ground and pointing your front toes up. Place your hands by the sides of your body and sink low into the stretch.
For classic yoga with a modern twist, Elsa Pataky turns to one woman: Tahl Rinsky. Born in New York and raised in Israel, Tahl is a Yoga Alliance ERYT200 and RYT500 certified instructor, and co-owner of Creature Yoga in Byron Bay. Her dynamic Vinyasa style of yoga balances flexibility and sweat, flow and strength, focus and stillness to better connect body, breath and mind.
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