As the world observes International Yoga day today, it is worthwhile to remember that Yoga is not just a commodity for consumption but something more significant - it is a means for self exploration, discovery and eventually, mastery over ones thoughts and actions. Yoga is so much more than just fancy poses. And this day serves as the perfect reminder for us to re-commit toward living a healthier, happier and more wholesome life.
So how does one do yoga? I am always asked this question in various forms: beginners ask because they do not know where to begin, and experienced practitioners ask because they feel they have to set aside an hour to 'properly' practice, which may or may not happen, and it results in them falling out of routine. I say that from experience myself! The answer is something you've probably heard many times- Consistency is key. Just setting aside a few minutes couple of times a week is a good start. You can always build up depending on your time and energy limits for that day.
To get you started, my good friend, and revered yoga teacher Arundhati Baitmangalkar from Aham Yoga has outlined a simple yet super effective 10-minute home yoga sequence just for you! To keep it easy-peesy, she has omitted a lot of jargon and has detailed photos for each step :)
You can just do a couple of Sun Salutations (pose 1) to begin with, and gradually add the other poses one at a time. Remember: Do it slowly with awareness and deep breaths.
Here is Arundhati:
1. SUN SALUTATIONS/ CLASSICAL SURYA NAMASKAR: This is the most ancient form of Vinyasa. It is a combination of several poses in a pre-set order that will make you strong, flexible and will you energized and refreshed! We recommend anywhere from 3 to 8 rounds daily.
2. VIRABHADRASANA 2/WARRIOR 2: Such a strong yet gentle hip opening pose. When done right, it releases the lower back, builds endurance and encourages circulation. If you sit or stand for extended periods of time, this is a great pose to do. Hold for 45 seconds to a minute on each side and slowly build up.
3. TRIKONASANA/TRIANGLE: This will give you a full body stretch. Be mindful that arms and legs need to be straight. Touching the floor with your hand is not important. Use a block under your palm to help you, if you cannot keep the leg straight.
4. ANJANEYASANA/LOW LUNGE POSE: If you sit at a desk all day, this pose is a must. Initially the stretch will be strong on the front of the thigh but as you start to practice regularly and breathe into it, the muscle will start to release and will get stronger, and help the knee and hip get more stable.
5. PRASARITA PADDOTTANASANA/WIDE LEG STANDING FORWARD FOLD: This is one of my personal favorites. On the left is the preparatory stage and the right is the complete pose. Make sure to master stage 1 before going deeper into stage 2. This pose not only stretches the legs and releases the lower back but also works as a semi inversion.
6. ADHOMUKHA SWANASANA/DOWNWARD FACING DOG POSE: This pose is famous for the right reasons. Its elongates the spine, stretches out the muscles at the back of the entire body. Allows the heart to rest and works as an inversion in itself. Great pose to recover from fatigue and restlessness.
7. URDHVA MUKHA SWANASANA/UPWARD FACING DOG: By bring the chest forward, keeping it lifted and open. Our lungs get a nice opening facilitating better breath and circulation. Enhances mood and helps to keep you alert and awake. Also builds arm strength.
8. BADDHAKONASANA/BOUND ANGLE POSE: would call this the ultimate pose for the hips. It is so simple, that it is often underrated. No matter what you do, make sure you spend at least a couple of minutes in this pose daily. If your knees are super high, sit on a couple of folded blankets to relieve the strain in your groins.
9. SETU BANDHASANA: BRIDGE POSE: This pose works on opening the chest and shoulders and helps to strengthen the legs and back muscles. Again it’s a pose that is often overlooked but packs a punch. Make sure your knees are not wider than your shoulders in this pose.
10. SUPTA PADANGUSHTASANA/SUPINE HAND TO BIG TOE POSE: If you need to do one pose in the morning, I would do this one. Part one, works the hamstring and stretches it out. Keeping the lower back at ease and maintaining the knee joint. Part two, builds hip stability and keeps the hips strong and sturdy protecting the lower back all through.
ONLY if you feel comfortable and would like to try to incorporate an inversion in your practice, do try the Shoulderstand Pose. if this seems too much to attempt then build up to it with the Bridge Pose mentioned above.
SARVANGASANA/SHOULDERSTAND: While we refer to the mother of all poses here. Any inversion during your day will be great. Inversions will keep the brain well fed with blood and oxygen giving energy, calm and clarity. These are meant to be learnt under the guidance of a skilled teacher.
So there you have it. A simple yet powerful set of yoga poses to build your home yoga practice. Remember to get your alignment right in all the poses, stay connected with the breath and hold the poses for as long as you comfortably can and then with time you will build the duration of poses. Give these a try and let us know how you did.
--- Arundhati Baitmangalkar
A big thanks to Arundhati who has outlined a lovely and may I add, not-so-scary sequence, for all of us! You can also check out more videos on Aham Yoga YouTube channel. There are detailed explanations and practice sequences.
Here is to celebrate a happy and healthy lifestyle!
Namaste, Shiv :)