When it comes to soothing the body and mind, nothing gives you bang for your buck quite like yoga. The stretches tone and elongate your muscles (great after a tough workout), while the breathing helps settle an overactive mind when you’re trying to juggle work, school drop-offs, housework and catching up with friends. The routine below is great for a quick practice at home, but if you’re just starting out you can find a class near you.
1. Standing forward fold
A simple start to your yoga routine, it helps stretch the hamstrings and relieves tension. Keep your feet shoulder width apart for balance. Gently roll your back forward and cross your arms. Allow your head to relax.
2. Crescent warrior
Start from a lunge position, with your hands supporting you at either side of your leading foot. Gently place the back knee down to the ground and bend the front knee to a right angle. Take your hands off the mat and stretch them above your head. Lean back slightly to increase the stretch across your back.
3. Warrior two
Take a wide stance, palms down, with feet slightly turned in and legs strong. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, keeping both heels aligned and legs activated. Bend your right knee until it sits directly over your ankle. Try to keep your torso long and positioned over your hips. Look to the right, out over your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, breathing deeply. Reverse the feet and repeat on the other side.
4. Sphinx pose
Lie on your stomach with legs extended hip width apart and tops of the feet facing down. Rest your elbows underneath your shoulders and forearms parallel to each other on the floor. Press the forearms down into the floor, inhaling as you lift your head and chest up, keeping your neck in line with the spine and shoulder blades moving down your back. Keep your lower body firm. Hold for two to six breaths. To release, exhale and lower the chest and head to the floor.
5. Chair pose
From standing position, with feet together, inhale and raise your arms parallel to the floor, palms down. Exhale and bend the knees. Squat as if you were going to sit on the edge of a chair. Bring your weight to the heels of the feet. Do not bring the hips any lower than your knees. Make sure your knees are pointing straight ahead. Press the shoulders down and back and reach out through the fingertips. Stare at a point on the wall in front of you for balance. Breathe and hold for three to six breaths.
6. Tree pose
From standing position, bend the right knee, shifting all the weight to the left leg. Turn the right knee to the wall, resting the heel against the left leg. Slowly slide the foot up the leg, only as far as you can maintain balance. When balanced, slowly bring your hands together in prayer position in front of your heart. If you want to challenge yourself, lift your arms above your head reaching as high as you can. Try to hold for four to eight breaths.
Begin on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips. Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine. Curl your toes under. As you inhale, tilt your pelvis back so that your tail sticks up. Moving from tailbone through the spine to the neck, gradually lower your stomach, keeping the muscles engaged as you arch your back, reaching the neck last. Gently gaze up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone in and round the spine from bottom to top. Draw your navel toward your spine, drop your head and gaze at your navel. Repeat the stretch for five to 10 breaths.
Lying on your back, let your feet flop outwards and spread your arms at about 45 degrees from your body. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Maintain awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath as you surrender to relaxation.
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