A 20-Minute Sequence to Work Yoga into Your Daily Life

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The most common reason for not sticking to a regular yoga practice is not having enough time to get to the studio and spend 60 to 90 minutes in class—and that doesn’t include waiting in line for showers and towels before getting home or going back to work.

This sequence is beginner-friendly and can be done in 20 minutes or less. You just need a place with enough space, lie down and close your eyes. If you can’t find a quiet spot, play meditation tunes on your music player and put on headphones as you perform each pose.

Sukhasana – Relaxed Sitting (or Variations) with Maha Yogi Pranayama

Sukhasana – Relaxed Sitting (or Variations) with Maha Yogi Pranayama

Start your workout in a comfortable sitting position on the mat. If your knees feel tight, use as many blocks or pillows as needed to support your knees. Or, if that’s more comfortable, you can kneel or even sit in a chair with your spine straight. The most important thing is to gently engage the spine, keeping your spine and neck straight while relaxing your shoulders.

After stabilizing, begin to extend your inhales and exhales. Try practicing Maha Yogi Pranayama, or Great Yogic Breath, by fully relaxing your abdomen as you inhale. As the lower chamber fills, push the chest outward to fill the middle chamber with breath. When it’s full, let your chest rise as you take in more air.

Try holding your breath a few times at your maximum inhalation, then exhale twice as long as your inhalation, imagining each chamber being emptied. Then, at the end of your exhalation, hold your breath a few times and repeat the cycle of inhaling and exhaling.

Continue this three-part breathing and sit comfortably for about three minutes before moving on to the next pose.

Balasana – Children’s style

Balasana – Child’s Pose

Transition to relaxed Balasana, or Baby’s Pose, by bringing your big toes together and separating your knees almost as far as the mat. Keep your sit bones touching your heels, even as you lean forward. Bring your fingertips forward and imagine your chest and forehead melting toward the floor. If your sit bones start to lift away from your heels, go back and build your foundation first. Trust that your hips will open up over time so you can go deeper into the pose when you’re ready.

If necessary, use a yoga mat, blanket, or cushion to comfortably support your chest or forehead while holding this position for at least a minute.

Marjaryasana – Cat/Cow Pose

Marjaryasana – Cat and Cow Pose

The next set of poses introduces a gentle spinal movement that flows in waves with the breath.

Lie on all fours with your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips, forming a box shape with your body. Either keep your toes in, or not, whichever is more comfortable for your body.

When you inhale, start to wave your tailbone upwards, and feel your spine bend down, section by section. Imagine your heart being pulled to the front of the room and your shoulder blades curled. As you inhale, look up slightly.

As you exhale, start wavy again with your tailbone, this time pointing downward, arching your spine. Feel as if your heart is being pulled toward the sky, and finally relax your neck and let your head hang down.

Continue with these cats and cows for two minutes.

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Dog (Vinyasa)

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Dog (Vinyasa)

From the previous Cat-Cows vinyasa setup, on the next exhale, keep your palms in place and lower your hips back into Baby’s Pose. On the next inhale, return to standing on all fours with a neutral, straight spine. On the next exhale, push and lift the hips back and up into Downward Dog.

If it feels tight, don’t hesitate to bend your knees and let your heels come off the mat. What’s more important is that the tailbone points to the ceiling and the back is straight. Keep your fingers open and push off the mat to strengthen your arms.

On the next inhale, carefully shift your weight forward and use all fours to lower your knees to the floor. On the next exhale, lower your body back to Baby’s Pose and repeat the vomibyasa cycle for about 3 minutes.

Balasana (Second Child Pose) or Virasana – Hero Pose

Balasana (Second Child Pose) or Virasana – Hero Pose

At this point, either rest in another Child’s Pose, or change it up with Virasana or Hero Pose. Set it up by kneeling down, and instead of bringing your big toes together and knees apart, bring your inner knees together and place your feet wider than your hips so you can sit between them. If this is too high for your hips and legs, place a yoga block or folded blanket under your sit bones to adjust the height.

Make sure your toes are flat on the floor and your arms are relaxed, palms up or down toward your thighs. This pose is a great alternative to Sukhasana or Lotus meditation and works wonders for tired legs. Close your eyes and breathe in this pose for at least a minute.

Salamba Bhujangasana – Sphinx or Seal Pose

Salamba Bhujangasana – Sphinx or Seal Pose

Release tension in your lower back and abdominals with this gentle backbend from the school of Yin yoga. Similar to the more active yang practice, in yin yoga it is recommended to keep active only the muscles needed to maintain the basic form of the asana. All other muscles can relax.

To get into sphinx pose, get down and get ready

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