Think you don’t have have time for yoga? Think again! Yoga for busy people: a short 15 minute flow

One of the biggest obstacles to health and wellness is… Time. Not having enough of it. We all know we should be exercising at least 30 minutes 5-6 times a week, but combining this with work, commuting, cooking (since we should also be trying not to eat processed, prepackaged food) and eating, plus spending time with our loved ones each day… It can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Believe me, I know this feeling. Yet this shouldn’t be an excuse to skip practices – such as exercise and self-care – that are so fundamental to good health and wellbeing. So, what’s the solution? Well, partly it’s about priorities, but, I believe, it’s also about letting go of the idea that we have to spend an hour at the gym or in an aerobics class for it to count. The problem with this is that it can lead to the idea that if we can’t spare at least an hour and do it ‘properly’ (if our Instagram-worthy sports outfit is still in the wash, for example…!) then we might as well not do it all, and just wait until tomorrow. Besides the fact that the same thing might happen tomorrow(!), this feeds into an unhealthy perfectionism and all-or-nothing attitude. Daily movement is key to good health. Obviously the longer you can spend moving each day the better, but if 15 minutes is all you can spare, then 15 minutes every day is far better than doing one hour twice a week. And almost everyone can spare 15 minutes! I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Countless studies now show just how damaging our sedentary lifestyles are… But they also show that you can’t balance out a week of sitting behind a desk and doing no exercise, by going all-out, spending all weekend at the gym. Sorry to tell you but that’s not going to make up for your terrible mid-week lifestyle! Consistency is the answer, and the quality of your workouts, rather than the length.

With that in mind, I’d like to share with you a short 15-20 minute yoga flow that you can do in the comfort of your own home – you don’t need an expensive yoga studio membership, and you don’t even need to get dressed if you don’t want to! You can do this flow first thing in the morning, during your lunch break at work (probably wearing clothes is a good idea in that case though!), or in the evening to stretch out before going to bed. (Bear in mind that it’s recommended not to eat before any yoga practice, so make sure to leave at least 2, preferably 3 hours, after dinner before practicing, or do the flow before a meal). This flow was recommended by my teachers at ALL YOGA during my first teacher training as the minimum daily requirement that was necessary in order to maintain a consistent yoga practice.

Begin by finding a place of balance (samasthiti), maybe shifting the weight subtly from left to right. Bring your hands into prayer position, close down the eyes, and focus on the breath. You can set an intention for your practice here, or just dive right in if you’re pressed for time.

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Urdhva hastasana

Inhaling, lift your arms overhead, engage your core, and look between your hands (urdhva hastasana).
On an exhale, fold forward (uttanasana), placing the hands outside the feet on the floor (or on blocks).

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Uttanasana

Inhale, lift halfway (ardha uttanasana), fingertips on the floor or hands on your shins, come into a ‘flat back’ position.
On an exhale, place your hands flat on the floor and step or jump back to chaturanga.
Inhale to updog, shoulders away from your ears.

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Updog (urdhva mukha svanasana)

Exhale, lift your hips up and back to downdog; hold for 5 breaths.

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Downdog (adho mukha svanasana)

Step or jump to the top of the mat and lift halfway (ardha uttanasana).
Exhale fold forward (uttanasana).
Inhale, lift your arms over head and look up (urdhva hastasana).
Exhale, bring your hands back to heart centre.
Repeat the sequence two more times.

Now 3 rounds of Sun B:
Inhaling, bend your knees, sit your hips back, Chair pose, raise your arms, engage your core, and look between your hands. Exhale, fold forward.
Inhale, lift halfway (ardha uttanasana).
Exhale, plant the hands and step or jump back to chaturanga.
Inhale, updog.
Exhale, downdog.
Inhaling, step the right foot forward to Warrior 1.

 

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Warrior 1 (virabhadrasana A)

Exhale place your hands either side of the front foot and step it back to chaturanga, through updog and downdog. This time step the left foot forward, Warrior 1. Exhale chaturanga. Inhale updog. Exhale downdog and this time hold for 5 breaths.
Step or jump to the top of the mat and lift halfway (ardha uttanasana).
Exhale fold forward (uttanasana).
Inhale, sit your hips back, lift your arms (utkatasana).
Exhale, straighten your legs, bring your hands back to heart centre.
Repeat the sequence two more times.

Come into a seated position, legs straight out in front. Inhale, imagine lengthening your spine, and on an exhale fold forward, grabbing the big toes with your ‘peace’ fingers (Paschimottanasana A). If you can’t grab your toes, or if you can’t keep a straight back while folding forward, bend your knees. It’s more important to maintain a long spine than to try to get your forehead to touch your shins! We fold from the hips, not the back, so your belly should be in contact with your thighs. Hold for 5 breaths (breathe slowly!).
Next, place your hands about a foot distance behind your hips. Point your toes, ‘puff up’ your chest pulling the shoulders away from the ears), then lift your hips up (Purvottanasana). Relax the head back if that feels ok on your neck. Try to keep the soles of the feet in contact with the floor. Hold for 5 breaths. Tuck your chin, and lower the hips.
If you can get into lotus position, then do so now; otherwise just cross your legs. If in lotus, see if you can cross your arms behind you, grabbing your left foot with your right hand and your right foot with your left hand. Don’t worry if that’s way too confusing! Just grab opposite elbows behind your back. Slowly fold forward, trying to touch your forehead to the ground. Take 10 deep breaths here, closing down the eyes.
Come back up, release the arms and place your hands on your knees, thumb and index finger touching. Take another 10 deep breaths.

 

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Fingers in Jnana mudra

Finally, lie down on your back for savasana. Legs about hip distance apart, allow your feet to roll naturally out. Slightly tuck your tailbone, pull your shoulder blades down your back. You can also place a rolled-up blanket or bolster under your knees or lower back for comfort. Allow some distance between the arms and the body, palms up. Slightly tuck your chin, and close the eyes.

Try not to skip savasana – I’ve seen people in class leave right before savasana, as if it’s optional, or just ‘being lazy’! Savasana is an essential part of the sequence – the time our bodies need to cool down from the practice and to assimilate the poses, not to mention it is a basically a lying-down meditation (and we know how important meditation is!). If you’re really strapped for time then you can cut it down to 3 minutes, but I urge you to allow yourself these 3 minutes to just be there with the breath and the sensations in the body. You can even set a timer for yourself if you’re worried about going over your ‘allotted’ time.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below!

To moving your precious bod’,
Charlotte X

 

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