getting on the mat with a simple 5-pose practice


04 Jan
04Jan


Your home yoga practice can be simple and easy. Home practice doesn't have to involve a rigorous 3-hour practice, especially if your life doesn't allow that kind of focused duration.

You can practice for 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes at a time.

Practice is practice. The more you practice, the better you'll feel. This is why I always encourage the people that I work with to start where you are. If you can commit to 10 minutes at 6 AM before your family gets up, then that's what you can do. Your practice is for you. Your practice is about you looking at you and deciding what you (and your body, mind, spirit) need right now. I find that I can't make good decisions about my practice when I'm very stressed out in my life. This is why I have crafted a series of simple 5-pose practices for myself. I keep these little notes by my mat for those days when I need a little jumpstart. Below I describe  one of my favorite 5-pose practices that involves slow movement combined with slow breathing.

The emphasis of this practice is to breathe with each movement. Usually, we inhale as we move up and exhale as we move down or ground. However, you always have the freedom to explore what feels right for you. This is your practice and only you can know what is right for you.


dynamic 5-pose practice (stabilizing, strengthening, calming, connecting)


1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Stand in Mountain pose (Tadasana) with your hands in prayer pose (anjali mudra) in front of your heart. Take a few deep breaths here to ground yourself and set your intention for your practice. Slowly inhale as you slowly bend both knees, slowly exhale as you step your right foot back, heal presses firmly into the ground. Hands are still in prayer pose in front of your heart as you slowly straighten your front leg. Release your hands to your sides. 

On your next inhalation, slowly raise and extend your arms and hands above your head toward the sky. 

Exhale as you slowly, consciously, bend your front leg into Warrior I. 

Inhale, slowly straighten your front leg. 

Exhale, release hands down to your sides.

Repeat 5 times with your left leg in front, and then 5 times with your right leg in front.


2. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Stand in Mountain pose (Tadasana) with your hands in prayer pose (anjali mudra) in front of your heart. Slowly inhale as you slowly bend both knees, slowly exhale as you step your right foot back. The back foot is angled about 30 degrees out (but pay attention to what feels right for your body). In this pose the hips are more open and not squared up like in Warrior I. Hands are still in prayer pose in front of your heart as you slowly straighten your front leg. Release your hands to your sides. 

On your next inhalation, slowly raise and extend your arms and hands out to your sides, forming a "T" with your arms and upper body. 

Slowly exhale as you slowly, consciously, bend your front leg into Warrior II. 

Slowly inhale, slowly straighten your front leg. 

Slowly exhale, release hands down to your sides.

Repeat 5 times with your left leg in front, and then 5 times with your right leg in front.


3.  Downward Dog - Plank (Adho Mukha Svanasana - Dandasana)

Begin in table top (hands and knees on the floor with a flat back). Knees are slightly back from your hips, inhale as you left your butt toward the sky into Downward Dog; peddle your feet here to find your comfortable place. Take a couple slow, deep breaths here.

Slowly inhale forward into Plank pose.

Slowly exhale back into Downward Dog pose.

Repeat 5 times.

Then, slowly release down into table top, or "hands and knees."


4. Locust

Start lying down on your tummy with your forward resting on your mat. Take a few slow breaths here.

Slowly inhale your arms and feet off the mat into Locust pose. Start with a gentle, low Locust pose.

Slowly exhale back down to the mat.

Repeat 5 times.


5. Balasana

After Locust pose, slowly, gently exhale back into Child's pose, or Balasana. Your knees are more open than hips' distance with your buttocks resting on your heals (resting on the tops of your feet). You can stretch your arms in front of you on the mat or around you to your sides on the mat with your hands toward your feet. Stay here for at least 10 breaths. You can stay in this pose longer if you like. This is a nice pose to calm and quiet the mind.

If Child's pose is uncomfortable for you, then choose any restorative pose that is comfortable for you (e.g., Savasana, Viparita Karani).

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I often find the practice of concentrating on my breath with slow conscious movement allows me to "reset." The combination of breathwork with gentle movement allows me to connect my body-mind-spirit in a very simple and easy manner.