One of my goals for the new year was to incorporate some element of a mind/body practice into each week. Whether it’s a few minutes of yoga or even just taking time to breathe for a minute, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a big commitment, but I wanted to dedicate time to incorporating a little relaxation into my life; to incorporate just a bit of quiet from the noise that’s a constant with two kiddos. As moms it can be hard to take that bit of quiet space for ourselves (heck, Jennifer showed us how hard moms have it even getting to go pee in peace!), but I think it’s important that we try as it can be a great stress relief and relaxation technique.
Seeing how February is American Heart Month, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share this yoga routine from Tisha Morris, yoga expert and author of Mind Body Home: Transforming Your Life One Room at a Time. Among yoga’s benefits, from relaxation to flexibility to increasing strength, it also makes a great companion to all of your usual cardio workouts, she says, and she touts its ability to help fight and prevent heart disease with its stress-relieving effects. Yoga has been shown to help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity and improve respiratory function in heart disease patients. Cool, right?Here’s a quick 10-minute yoga series with a bonus meditation session that Tisha created that you can do when you’ve got a quiet moment, whether it’s before the kids wake up in the morning, during their afternoon nap or right before they get home from school. The following routine is a simple yoga series that can be done in just 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of breath work. You’ve got 15 minutes, right?
15-Minute Yoga for You
1. Child’s Pose. This is one of the best and easiest poses in yoga. It is extremely grounding and a great way to block out the physical world and have your moment of silence. Think of a baby in the womb! Come on to the floor on your knees. Knees can be together or wide. Bring your forehead to the ground as you sit back on your heels as much as possible. If you have tightness, your hips may not reach your heels, in which case you can place a blanket in that space if it is uncomfortable. If your forehead doesn’t reach the floor, place a blanket or pillow in that space. Arms can be in front or to your sides. Breathe. Let your body be heavy. Stay here for at least five breaths.
2. Cat Cow. Come on to your hands and knees with a flat back, wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. You’re creating a nice square with the floor. This is your starting position. Keeping your hands and knees in place, inhale as you lift the tailbone toward the sky and look up. Exhale as you rotate and tuck the tailbone and tuck the chin, rounding your back. Continue this for five rounds of breaths in coordination with your movements.
3. Downward Facing Dog. Down dog is probably the most well-known pose in yoga. It’s sort of a full-body workout in one pose. From cat-cow pose, take your hands one hand-length forward. This is a general rule for your ideal length. Spread your fingers and start to lift your tailbone toward the sky. If you have tight hamstrings or calves, your heels may not reach the ground. Let your heart sink through towards the ground; release any tension in your neck. There should be equal weight in your hands and in your feet. Your body is in effect making a triangle with your tailbone being the highest point. Breathe. Stay here for five breaths.
4. Forward Fold. Start to tippy-toe your feet forward slowly. Let the arms and head dangle. Slowly roll up the spine very slowly stacking one vertebrae on top of the other.
5. Mountain Pose. Come to standing and check out your feet: they most likely are not parallel. Most everyone stands with their feet pointing out too much. Parallel your feet; you will probably feel a bit pigeon-toed. Stick your tailbone out like a duck and then slightly scoop your tailbone up. Lengthen up through your chest. Draw the shoulder points back. Breathe.
6. Warrior II. Take a giant step back with your right foot. Your heels should be in line with each other. Bend your front knee so that it is right over your ankle. Lift the energy up the torso and extend your arms out. Gaze off your front fingers. Feel powerful like a warrior. Hold the poe for five breaths. You’re extending your energy field in five directions: the energy in both feet, the energy extending out through both hands, and the energy rising up the torso. Repeat on the other side.
7. Downward Facing Dog. Come back to Down Dog.
8. Pigeon Pose. From down dog, draw your left knee forward toward your left wrist. Set your calf on the ground — it should be at an angle. Walk your back leg back so that it is straight as possible. Keep your hips level. Avoid collapsing to one side. You should already be feeling a stretch in your left hip. If you are able, you can recline down onto your forearms and possibly further, depending on the openness of your hips. Stay here for two to five minutes. Breathe! Step back into down dog. Repeat other side.
9. Meditation. Sit crossed-leg on the floor, if that is comfortable. If not, sit in a chair with your feet touching the ground. Take three large inhales/exhales from your belly and then return to your normal breath. Start with a simple 5-minute meditation and work up from there. A meditation can consist of focusing on your breath, a prayer or chant, or simply being an observer of all the things that go through your mind. By giving your mind liberty to run, it will finally start to slow down and eventually quiet. Instead of trying to quiet the mind, just observe it without judgement. Continue to take as many deep breaths into the belly throughout to fill the body and cells with fresh oxygen.
Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel nice? Anyone else trying to throw a little relaxation/meditation into their routine? —Erin