It’s super EZ to squeeze some simple yoga moves into your day. Really, you don’t have to put on your yoga clothes, unfurl the yoga mat, get centered, etc. and so on. You can breathe, stretch and move throughout your day. For instance: Don’t just stand there while you brush your teeth…do a few squats! Don’t just wait for the kettle to boil…go up and down on your tippy toes! Don’t just sit on the couch looking at TV…practice 5 deep breaths (especially if the news is on!). Don’t just be on the phone…do a slow mindful walk while talking. In fact, don’t just listen to me…get creative and find your own ways to introduce movement into your day!
Here are 5 suggestions from my book Essential Yoga. Don’t just sit (or stand) there…do yoga!
Knee Rocking (while putting on socks)
This pose opens the groin muscles and improves flexibility in the hips. It also strengthens the arms, shoulders, and abdominals. Do it whenever you feel any tightness or discomfort in hips, pelvis, or upper thighs.
• Sit on a mat with both legs out in front of you and spine comfortably extended. Depending on how much flexibility you have in your hips, you may want to sit on a folded blanket or towel 2 to 4 inches in height.
• Lift your right leg and bend it at the knee. Wrap your arms around the lower leg so that your right foot nestles in the crook “of your left elbow or in your hand. Be gentle with your knee and don’t force the movement. Cradle the leg with both arms and if you can, clasp your left and right hands.
• Use your arm to bring your leg toward your chest and abdomen.
• Keep your back straight and hold the leg as high and close to you as possible without straining.
• Moving from the hip joint, gently rock your leg back and forth in a sideways motion as though you were rocking a baby.
• After rocking your leg several times, switch leg positions and repeat with the left leg.
Complete Breath in Mountain (while waiting in line)
Exhale completely. Inhale slowly and begin sipping air in through your nose. Allow your stomach to expand like a balloon.
• Continue to sip in the breath, allowing the air to move into your chest, completely filling the lungs. Sip in one more breath.
• Hold your breath (retention) for a few moments. Begin exhaling slowly through the nose, down into the chest and abdomen, squeezing out all the stale air from the bottom of the lungs. Hold the breath out (suspension) for a moment.
• Repeat 5 times.
Triangle (while booting up the computer)
A triangle is a geometric form that embodies strength, balance, and support. This ancient posture, which replicates the innate stability of a triangle, improves flexibility of the torso, elongates and straightens the spine, opens the hip area, and strengthens the arms, legs, ankles, and feet. Concentrate on holding the pose in stillness while you breathe deeply and rhythmically. Feel the solidity and strength of the triangle fill your entire being and rest firmly in the knowledge that nothing can shake the solid foundation that is your core.
• Stand with your feet separated about 3 feet apart or the length of one leg.
• Turn your right foot out 90°; turn your left foot in (toward the right) about 30°.
• As you inhale, stretch your arms out from your shoulders so they form a T.
• Exhale and bend slowly to the right.
• Lower your right arm to your right shin and extend your left arm up toward the ceiling.
• Make sure your shoulders are in alignment, as though stacked over your right knee. Maintain an extension of the spine.
• Look up at your thumb if you can without straining. Breathe in and out slowly.
• As the left side of your body relaxes and opens up, slide your right hand further down your leg. To make sure your upper body stays in proper alignment, imagine you are sliding between two pieces of glass. Hold for several breaths.
• Feel your endurance grow. Envision yourself as a strong, stable, immobile triangle.
• To release, “pinwheel” your arms back up to a standing position.
• Rest and then reverse the pose.
Balancing Stick (while waiting for water to boil)
Balancing Stick will really get your system working. It tones and firms the legs, hips, buttocks, shoulders, and arms as it increases circulation and works the heart. It also improves concentration and balance. Focus on elongating the arms and leg when you are in this position.
• Stand with your feet together. Raise your arms over your head, palms together; if it feels comfortable, cross your thumbs.
• Inhale and step forward about a foot with your left leg. Point your right toe and rest it lightly on the floor behind you. Your heel is lifted.”
• Gaze at a spot on the floor beyond you. Exhale and allow your upper body to pivot forward from your hip as your right leg lifts up straight behind you and your outstretched arms lower down in front of you. Your hips should be level. Viewed from the side, your body forms a T.
• If balance is a challenge, let your fingers rest lightly on a high-backed chair or shelf.
• Breathe normally and hold for 10 seconds.
• Lower your right leg and raise your arms, returning to start position. Check to make sure your shoulders are down away from the ears.
• Repeat on the other side.
• Do the pose once more on each side
Seated Angle (while watching TV)
This posture stretches the inner thigh muscles and the spine. It is beneficial for anyone involved in biking, “running, dancing, and other activities that repeatedly work the hips and legs.
• Sit on a folded blanket or towel with your spine comfortably extended. Roll your shoulders down and away from your ears.
• Separate your legs a comfortable distance apart. Your toes and knees point to the ceiling and are not internally or externally rotated.
• Place your hands on the floor in front of you, with palms down. Elbows are soft.
• Inhale, keeping the spine extended. Exhale and bend forward, keeping the sitting bones on the floor. Your upper back remains flat and broad; your toes and knees point to the ceiling.
• With each exhalation, try to move your hands away from you a tiny bit further, bringing your upper body closer to the floor.
• Hold for 30 to 60 seconds