Life is constantly providing opportunities for us to fill our calendars and fewer chances to make it to the mat to practice. Class times might not work with your schedule and your family or work might become a conflict to flowing with your favorite teacher. Meals, appointments, obligations and even pets can get in line ahead of your yoga practice. You may have made a commitment to practice your yoga but suddenly cannot seem to find a free hour or so on your mat.
What is a yogi to do?
There are no hard and fast rules about the length of time one must practice yoga. Some days all you can find time for is a very condensed practice. Here are five ways you can enjoy benefits of your yoga in only ten minutes.
1. Yin yoga: Yin yoga is a practice that focuses on longer holds of introspective forward folds and deep hip openers. The emphasis is on the joints and connective tissue rather than the muscles and thus the yogi holds the poses anywhere from one to five minutes. This grounding yoga style can give you flexibility and quiet in only four poses. Utilize an extra-long exhale breath to maximize the relaxation and opening you get in these poses. Try Butterfly, Seal, Dragonfly and Cat Pulling its Tail for a well-rounded ten-minute yin practice.
2. Surya Namaskar A: Sun Salutation A is a whole body practice that warms you up from head to toe. It emphasizes opening and breath, along with strength and flexibility. Surya Namaskar A can increase blood flow and your heart rate, and elevate the warmth you feel in your body. Couple your flow with Ujjayi pranayama and you can enhance this internal heat. This practice was designed to welcome the sun, so try practicing it early in the morning as a way to get a jump-start on the day.
3. Balance: Consider using your ten minutes to play with your balance. Balancing poses require strength, connection to the Earth and focus; all of which are beneficial in our daily lives. Pick four of your favorite balancing poses and investigate new variations on each. Utilize your arms in a different fashion, play around with standard two leg poses in an unfamiliar way (for example on tip toes) and try building the poses from the ground up instead of from standing. Finish your practice with Nadi Shodhana to balance your breath and return yourself to a state of calm before continuing on with your day.
4. Restoration: The requirement that yoga be vigorous does not exist so consider spending your yoga time in a restorative fashion. Using props, do some of the many poses that can be done in a supportive way such as Matseyasana, Viparita Karani and Balasana. Use a yoga strap or tie to move through some supported stretching or twisting. Give yourself the benefits of these healing poses without having to do the work.
5. Savasana: Every yoga class or practice should end with at least five minutes of Savasana. Why not spend your entire ten minutes of yoga in corpse pose? This final pose of practice offers time for peace, unity and quiet. Give yourself some space to stretch out and relax with Savsasana. You can experience stress release, reflection and gentle breathing.
Set your intention every morning to practice yoga for at least ten minutes. Whether you emphasize heat and strength or quiet and restoration, your body and your mind will be the better for it.