Simply walking into a yoga studio can be a relaxing experience. There may be essential oils burning, dimmed lights, and blankets lining the floors. An instructor’s soothing tone walks yogis through a practice that relaxes the body, mind, and soul.
But if you don’t have time to head to a studio (or, right now, don’t feel safe doing so), you can still reap the benefits by doing yoga at home, or learning yoga online. A few minutes of simple stretches can go a long way in improving your mood, mobility, and posture.
“Doing a simple stretch and breathe for five to 10 minutes provides so many benefits for the body and mind,” says Juliana Spicoluk, a yoga expert and co-founder of Boho Beautiful. “Especially right now with the state of the world, there’s so much uncertainty and stress, finding time to disconnect from all the noise and gives yourself an opportunity to go inward, connect to your breath, tune into how your body is feeling and give your body the chance to stretch and release energy.”
Spicoluk shared five simple poses to add to your yoga-at-home routine.
If you’re without even the most basic equipment, don’t worry – you don’t even need a mat to do this simple pose. To protect your knees, try the child’s pose in your bed when you wake up or are about to go to sleep. “It allows to release tension out of the lower back,” Spicoluk says. “It just takes that moment for you to close the eyes and let go and sink deep into the pose.”
To settle into this pose, kneel with your feet touching and knees hip-width apart. Sink to place your forehead on the floor, mat, or bed with your butt resting on your heels. “The main thing for people to think about as they are doing child’s pose is letting the hips sink down as close to the heels as possible,” Spicoluk says. You can place your hands in front of you or at your sides. Spicoluk says putting arms forward “provides a release for the upper back and shoulders,” but some people prefer resting their hands by their sides. “This provides more of a comforting sensation.”
Sometimes referred to as the “figure four stretch,” this pose releases tension in the glute muscles. “So many people suffer from lower back and hamstring pain,” Spicoluk says. “Because our bodies are so connected, when we tackle the glute muscle, we will actually feel a release in the lower back and in the hamstring.”
Begin seated with one leg outstretched, and the opposite foot on the ground with the knee pointed up towards the ceiling. Place the ankle of the outstretched leg over the opposite knee, creating a figure four. Bonus: You can also do a seated pigeon while you’re sitting in a chair on a Zoom call. Just sit in a chair, place one ankle over the other, and lean forward.
This versatile pose provides relief for the abs, hips, back, and upper body while also improving posture. “When you feel very stiff and confined, a little movement can get the blood and energy flowing,” Spicoluk says.
Start in a tabletop position with hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be aligned with your shoulders and perpendicular to the floor. To do the cat portion of this pose, round your back (as silly as it sounds, if you look like a cat in a Halloween decoration, you’re doing it right). Be sure to keep your shoulders and knees stable. Hold for a few breaths. Then, return to a tabletop position. Sink your belly to the floor to perform the “cow” version of the pose. Your gaze should lift towards the ceiling. Hold for a few breaths and repeat.
This posture is not just good for mobility, but it also strengthens the hamstrings and glutes, making it a favorite of Spicoluk’s after sitting at a computer for a long period of time.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your head and arms should be relaxed. Lift your hips off the floor, squeezing your glute muscles as you rise. Hold for 30 seconds, and relax.
Sit tall on the floor with the heels of your feet together. Allow the knees to drop to the floor as far as possible. “Some people may be a little tighter in the hips,” Spicoluk says. “That’s OK.” This pose will release that tension. If you think you can take it a step further, walk your hands forward while keeping your sit bones on the floor. “You’ll feel a deeper opening in the hips and a good stretch in the lower back and sacrum,” Spicoluk says.
Yoga boasts a ton of physical and emotional benefits. Though practicing at a studio can be relaxing and challenging, you can also yoga at home. Just a few minutes of yoga per day can relieve both physical and mental aches and pains from daily life. Go at your own pace, listen to your body, and reap the wondrous benefits of this mind-body connection. But, before planning your at-home yoga practice check our guide on pre-yoga foods that won’t ruin your flow.
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