Feeling Wonky? These 5 Centering Exercises Can Be Done Anywhere

Registered Yoga Teacher By Sara Quiriconi
Registered Yoga Teacher
A 15-year cancer survivor, Miami-based Sara Quiriconi fell in love with yoga, well-being, and travel for its self-healing properties. An honors graduate with a bachelor's in graphic design from Fairfield University, she is also a certified yoga instructor and certified health coach (Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Quiriconi also authored Living {Cancer} Free.

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Traveling this holiday season? Whether you're staying at a hotel or Mom and Dad's house, there's no excuse not to continue to work out just because you don't have much space or your regular gym equipment.

I travel a lot for my job as a content creator and wellness travel influencer. That being said, I need to get creative with the spaces I'm given and learn to adjust to the environment that's around me. As a certified yoga teacher, I've gotten pretty used to operating on a 2½-by-6½-foot mat space, incorporating various techniques from yoga and strength training.

To keep your fitness routine in check whenever you're limited on space or have no equipment, these five exercises can be done anywhere using nothing more than your own body weight and mind. Following the exercises as described, you can fit in about a 30-minute routine that works just about every large muscle group in the body.

Boat pose (lift/lower)

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This one has abdominals written all over it, and in the season we're prone to overeating, it's important to keep our guts in check with strengthening and toning. Secondarily, this exercise trains your hip flexors and leg muscles as you lift and hold your legs in between controlled movement.

In a seated position with knees bent, put feet flat to the floor. With a tall spine, engage your core and lift your legs into a boat position with bent knees, keeping your shins parallel to the floor. Keeping the chest lifted and limbs extended, slowly lower on your exhale to a low boat (or kayak, as I like to call it) until you fully reach the extension of your exhale. Using your abdominals, lift back up to a boat position on the full length of your exhale.

Repeat this cycle 10 times, resting in between, three complete sets.

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Bridge pose (hip lifts)

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This gentle press of the belly on your "bridge" of the hips up can comfortably compress the muscles of the entire abdomen and pelvic region, while working your glutes and hamstring muscles.

From your back, bend both knees placing your feet toward the floor. Your hands will almost touch your heels, with the back of your head and shoulders comfortably level to the floor. On the inhale, press into your feet and lift the hips away from the mat. Lower back down on the exhale, keeping hips and glutes hovered an inch or so above the mat.

Repeat this cycle 10 times, resting in between, three complete sets.

Downward dog to plank

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Similar to yoga, downward-facing dog stretches the muscles we just strengthened in the previous bridge lift post. At the same time, planks work our entire front side of the body, including your arms, chest, core, and quadriceps muscles.

From a downward-facing dog with slightly bent knees, keep the spine elongated and arms straight as you begin to pedal your legs out for a few cycles of breathing.

Find your next exhale, when ready, and drop your heels toward the mat as close as they'll go, keeping your spine straight. On your inhale, shift forward into a plank posture, on the tippy-toes as much as possible to engage the entire front side of your body. On the exhale, return to a downward dog. Repeat 10 times, then hold in plank for 30 seconds while breathing.

Rest in between sets, repeating two more times.

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Side lunges

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This exercise offers a blend of stretching and strengthening. Alternating sides on this dynamic exercise works both your inner hips and quadriceps. To modify, use a block underneath your hands, or place your hands on the floor instead of staying elevated.

From a wide-legged position—or horse stance—bend your right knee, and on your exhale squat toward the right side. Stay fairly low, keeping the hips above the bent-knee position, and the opposite leg straight with the feet flat to the floor. On the inhale, come back up through center, exhaling to shift sides.

Repeat this action 10 times on each side. After, pause and hold in horse stance with 90-degree bends in both knees for 20 (blissful) seconds.


Image by Sara Quiriconi / Contributor

This exercise requires no physical space but 100 percent mental space. Our mind is such a powerful muscle that needs to be worked just as much as your abs, glutes, arms, and chest combined. I've always been a big believer that the stronger your mind, the stronger your body.

Find a cross-legged position or seated up on a pillow if that's more cozy. Elongate your spine, elevate your chest, and, when you’re ready, gently close your eyes. Begin to breathe naturally in and out, hearing your own breathing and beginning to settle your mind and observe your thoughts.

After a few cycles of natural breathing, begin to visualize a red balloon in your mind. On your inhale, imagine the balloon expanding, getting larger and brighter as you fully inhale. As you breathe out, see the red balloon return to a smaller size until you've fully emptied out all of your air. Repeat this cycle of breathing for 7 to 10 minutes, keeping your mind's eye on the red balloon expanding and shrinking.

Come out of your meditation whenever you're ready, gently blinking your eyes open, returning to your space.

Of course, there are many exercises you can do with little to no space. Remember, it takes a dedication to a #noexcuses mindset, a bit of scheduling to stay consistent, and a touch of play to keep it fun and for your long-term health.

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