Lately, my yoga practice looks very different from what it used to be. I’m lucky to get 30 minutes for myself, and in that time, I need to stop to ask myself what I need to do to bring my day into balance. The answer is most often, “Yoga!” Once on the mat, I try to shut off the chatter of my brain and ask my heart what it wants me to practice today. Do I need more energy with a vigorous vinyasa practice, or to bring more calm into my day with a few Yin or restorative poses?
We often think that our yoga practice needs to look a certain way, but when we only have half an hour to spare, every bit counts. Here are a few tips, based on my personal experience, to help you design your 30-minute practice. These are only a few ideas, so feel free to get creative and explore!
Breathe and Listen!
Sit down and take a few deep breaths. When you feel still and grounded, ask yourself what it is that you need today. Be open to whatever comes up! Do you feel strong and full of energy? A vinyasa flow practice might be what you need. Does your body and mind need some rest and relaxation? A few restorative poses would be perfect for you! Perhaps you want to focus on a specific chakra or a few chakras, or address a physical or mental and emotional issue that is current for you. After you have determined what you need, take a few more deep breaths and set the intention for your practice and your day, in general.
Get into the Flow!
For a restorative practice, choose two or three poses that you wish to practise, based on what you require, followed by Savasana. For a great heart- and hip-opening pose, try reclined Badha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose). For a gentle supported backbend, you may choose restorative Balasana (Child’s Pose). The same general principle can be applied to Yin poses.
Similarly, in a vinyasa practice, you may choose to focus on opening the hips with lunges, opening the heart with backbends, or to simply go through a balanced flow that incorporates a bit of everything. Here is an example of a basic vinyasa flow practice that should take you about 30 minutes to complete:
1. Warm up with a few neck rolls and cat/cow variations.
2. Three rounds of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) A, then B
3. One to two standing poses, such as Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) and Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), or balance poses such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Garudasana (Eagle Pose). Hold each pose for five breaths.
4. Take a vinyasa to lay down on the belly. Then, choose one or two backbends such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Salabhasana (Locust Pose). Hold each pose for five breaths.
5. Take Balasana (Child’s Pose) for five breaths.
6. Practise one or two forward folds, such as Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Bend) and Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend). Hold each pose for five breaths.
7. Choose one inversion (Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall, is a gentle restorative inversion that many people love) and hold for ten breaths.
8. Reclined twist for eight to ten breaths on each side.
9. Savasana for at least four minutes.
If you are concerned about keeping track of time, you may bring a watch and place it beside your mat. However, a better idea – especially if you like to practise with music in the background – might be to create a playlist of a few songs, the total play time of which adds up to approximately 30 minutes.
Enjoy your creative practice, and please feel free to provide feedback!