In my classes, you will typically practice dynamic poses as well as passive, restorative poses. A nice reminder of the importance of balancing effort and ease into daily life.
Here are 6 simple yoga poses that can give you a 5-minute mindful break in your day. These postures can help to relieve tension and, with regular practice, help to keep your hips and shoulders open. If you give your body your full attention and move with your breath, you will turn your practice into a 5-minute moving meditation.
Cat Cow Pose
Cat cow is a great combination of a mini backbend and an opposing spine stretch. It can help offset spinal flexion (forward hunch) from sitting at a desk, driving, or looking at your phone. It helps to relieve lower back tension and a nice way to bring energy to the spine.
How: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale, lift your head and flatten or slightly arch your back. Exhale, tuck your chin in toward your chest, tuck your tailbone under, and lift through your mid-back. Repeat four more times, moving with your breath.
This is a calming, inward pose that's a gentle stretch for the back, hips, and shoulders.
How: Start on your hands and knees. Open your knees wide to the side and bring your toes closer together. Gently sit back on your heels. Use a cushion under your hips if you need. Walk your hands forward, lower your chest towards the floor. Tuck your chin in and lower your head to the floor. Breathe.
Downward Facing Dog
This is a great position to lengthen the entire backside of the body, from the calves and hamstrings to the lower back. With regular practice, it will also open your shoulders.
How: Start on your hands and knees. Bring your hands shoulder-width distance apart, your knees hip-width distance apart. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back, extending both arms and both legs (making an upside-down triangle shape with the body). If you have tight hamstrings or shoulders, keep your knees deeply bent. Lift the tailbone up and relax your neck and spine. Keep pressing your hands into the floor like you’re pushing yourself towards the back of the mat.
Pigeon pose is a great stretch for the hips and backside of the body. It can also relieve tightness in the lower back. A nice passive pose to counter the effects of sitting for long periods of time.
How: Start in downward dog or on your hands and knees. Bring your right knee forward and place it between your hands. Reach your left leg out behind you, with your left knee and top of your left foot facing down. Adjust to make sure your hips are facing forward. Extend your upper body forward and down, supporting yourself with both forearms, or hands on the floor. Release after several breaths and repeat with the left leg forward.
Standing Forward Fold
This is a simple stretch to ease lower back tension and loosen the hamstrings. You’ll also feel a nice release in your cervical spine as you let your head hang heavy.
How: Start in downward dog. Look forward and step or walk your feet to the top of your mat. Keep your feet hip-width distance apart and keep a soft bend in the knees as you fold forward. Allow your arms to hang heavy like a rag doll. If it feels good for you, hold onto your elbows and gently rock your upper body from side to side.
Standing Side Stretch
Many yoga poses focus on opening the shoulders, hips and hamstrings. This is a great pose to open the side body.
How: Stand tall. Join your feet together and engage your quadriceps and abdominals. Clasp your hands together. Inhale and raise both arms overhead. Little by little, with your exhalation, start to lean to the right side. Keep reaching through the hands while you press the side of the left foot into the floor, finding as much length as you can in the left side body with each exhalation. Stay for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.