How to get started with a yoga home practice

If your days are busy your time is precious, and that makes it sometimes, if not always, hard to find time for yourself. Why not take a little bit of time first thing in the morning when you wake up and dedicate it to your yoga practice? Below is a short sequence you can try getting you ready to start the day.

Here is the challenge. For seven days simply try this easy 5-10-minute routine. All you have to do is get up and simply start. No “Down Dog”, yoga mat or even getting onto the floor required. Try it straight out of bed, in the bathroom, kitchen or take it outdoors:

Mountain Pose, Extended Mountain, Standing Side Stretch, Standing Twist, Forward Fold, Warrior II, Tree Pose to optional Star Pose

Depending on how many breaths you take in each pose this sequence will take between 5-10 minutes. Try not to rush through it. If you have less time available turn it into a moving meditation and take only one round of breath in each pose but try to be fully present in your body and in the moment as you feel your breath travelling in and out of your body. Keep your eye gaze soft and your mind quiet for your practice. Enjoy!

Start with Mountain Pose (Tadasana) Either with your feet together, big toes touching, heels slightly apart or feet hip distance apart and parallel to each other toes facing forward, whichever feels more natural and comfortable to your body. Root into the floor through your big toes, pinkie toes, right and left side of your heels. Feel your thighs activate, your knee caps lift, draw your tailbone down with your pelvis in neutral, draw your navel to your spine, lengthen from hips to crown of head with your shoulders soft and stacked over your hips. Relax your arms by the side of your body. Take a few deep breaths.

On an inhale let your arms rise overhead for Extended Mountain Pose (Urdhva Hastasana), interlace your fingers, turn your palms facing up. Root into the floor breathing out, breathe in and find more length through your spine, keep your shoulders away from your ears as you reach out through the crown of your head and your interlaced palms. On an exhale reach your arms over to the right c-shaping your spine, stretching the left side of your body in Standing Side Stretch. On an inhale come back to centre keeping your arms overhead. Breathe out and stretch up and over to the left, lengthening the right side of your body. Inhale back to centre, exhale and release your arms alongside your body.

Keep your legs in your chosen Mountain Pose (Tadasana), inhale and raise your arms over head. As you exhale twist your torso to the right reaching your right arm back and your left to the front for Standing Twist. Take a full (one or more) breath in this position reaching out through your fingertips through both arms either gazing over your front or your back arm (to deepen the twist). On your next inhale come back to centre as you reach your arms overhead and repeat on the left side. Move into the twist as you exhale.

Once back in Mountain Pose on an exhale, bend your knees, and start to tip your torso forward from your hips until your hands reach the floor for Forward Fold (Uttanasana). You might have to bend your knees a lot – especially in the mornings when the body is just waking up and still feels stiff and this is totally ok. Try to keep your spine long as you let your head hang heavy towards the floor, feel the back of your legs (hamstrings) stretch. Inhale, slide your palms up the front of your knees either stop below or above your knees with your knees still slightly bend and your upper body extended lengthening through your spine from hips to crown of head. On an exhale let your long torso tip forward again as your hands slide back to the floor. Allow your knees to bend as much as needed as you repeat the movement for another two to three (or more) breaths then come back up to stand in your Mountain Pose.

To practice Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) from Mountain Pose step your right leg back, bring your right heel to the floor on the left and try aligning the midline of your back foot to the heel of your front (left) foot. Keep your toes facing forward. Bend your front knee, allow it to track over your ankle of the front foot, turn your hips and torso to open to the right. Stacking your shoulders over your hips, reach your arms out to the side with your palms facing down and your front arm reaching out over your front foot and your back arm reaching out over your back foot. Gaze over your front middle finger, allow your shoulders to soften and breathe deeply in and out of your nose. For more intensity, you might want to add some movement. Inhaling straighten both legs and lift your arms overhead, exhaling sink back into your front leg bending the front knee tracking over the ankle and lower your arms shoulder height reaching into your fingertips. Repeat for another two to four rounds of breaths and then hold your Warrior II pose for another two to three full breaths before stepping back into your Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.

Coming to the end of your practice from your Mountain Pose shift your weight into your left leg, bend your right knee, turn it out to point to the right and either keep your right toes light on the floor or place the sole of your right foot against your left inner shin or inner thigh (below or above your knee) for Tree Pose (Vrksasana). Bring your palms together at heart centre and take a few breaths finding your inner centre. Once you feel stable bring your eye gaze to your fingertips at your heart centre. On an inhale watch your fingers rise as you lift your arms slowly overhead with your eye gaze softly ahead or gently lifted. Maybe even try this with your eyes closed noticing the shift in sense of balance as the challenge increases. Try to stay here for a few breaths. If you would like to go a little further let your palms float parallel to each other with your arms shoulder width or wider apart reaching overhead, let your upper body tip to the left as your right bend leg starts to straighten and reach out to the right and you find yourself in Star Pose. To keep stability, draw your navel up and in and activate your gluteus. Try taking a few long deep breaths here and on an exhale step gently back into your Mountain Pose to try Tree- and Star Pose on the other side.

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