As a yoga teacher, I regularly observe my students holding tension in their bodies as a result of the common stresses that go hand-in-hand with work, family matters, and general life activities. Tight shoulders and hips, a sore low back and poor posture are all physical symptoms of this kind of tension and, while it might be impossible to eliminate stress completely, it is within our power to do something about the physical toll it has on the body. It takes as little as 15 minutes, some dedication and patience.
Whether you spend all day at a desk or hours on your feet, you can help unwind your body and mind after a long day at work with this simple 15-minute yoga sequence. It’s short, sweet and all you’ll need is an open space on the floor, a rolled up towel and maybe a timer or clock.
These postures are all about how it feels…. not how it looks. So close your eyes, breathe deep, and melt into the sensations of each pose.
Yoga Chill Zone
Child’s Pose – 3 minutes
- Sit on your knees at the back of your yoga mat. If you don’t have a mat that’s fine! Use a blanket or another towel.
- Allow your big toes to touch behind you and separate your knees enough that the edges of your ribcage fit between them.
- Walk your hands forward until your forehead touches the ground, your ribs touching your thighs.
- Bring the length of your inhale even in length to your exhale and feel for 360-degree movement in the ribcage. Keep this smooth, even breath throughout this yoga sequence.
- Stay like this for 3 minutes, focusing on your breath.
Cat & Cow Pose – 2 minutes
- From Child’s Pose, rise up onto your hands and knees. Your hands will be right underneath your shoulders, and your knees right underneath your hips.
- As you inhale, come into Cow Pose. Look up, tilt your tailbone to point to the ceiling and arch your belly towards the floor.
- Exhale as you reverse that action and come into Cat Pose. Tuck your tailbone under so it points to the floor, arch your back towards the ceiling and tuck your chin to your chest to gaze at your navel.
- Repeat in a smooth, fluid motion… Inhale into Cow Pose, and Exhale into Cat Pose.
- Feel free to take any organic movements that feel good to you. You can draw big circles with your belly, or wiggle your hips side to side and look over each shoulder. Explore. Continue for 2 minutes.
Thread the needle – 1 minute on each side.
- From Cat/Cow return to a neutral hands and knees position, looking at the floor. As you inhale reach your left arm high up to the left, and look over your left shoulder.
- Exhale as you bring that arm down and thread it through the gap between your right hand and right knee, palm up. Bring your left shoulder and the side of your head to rest on the floor.
- Place your right palm on top of your left, arms straight.
- Hold and breathe for 1 minute, then change sides slowly. Once you’re in the position on the other side, start your next minute.
Supine chest opener – 2 minutes
- Take a comfortable seat on your knees or cross-legged. Fold your towel and roll it into a short, thick roll. Place it on the mat or floor, long-wise from front to back.
- Lie down on the roll so that it’s right in between your shoulder blades and your head still rests on the floor.
- Extend your legs out long, and allow your arms to rest comfortably by your sides.
- Breathe, filling and emptying the lungs completely, for 2 minutes.
- Remove the towel from underneath you, and lie back down.
Supine twist – 1 minute each side
- Inhale, hug your knees into your chest.
- Exhale, allow your bent knees to roll to the right.
- Your arms reach out to the sides, and your gaze is over the opposite shoulder.
- Hold and breathe for 1 minute, and then change sides.
Savasana – Remaining time
- From supine twist, hug your knees into your chest and give yourself a squeeze as you inhale to fill up your low belly with air.
- Exhale and extend your limbs out long on the floor.
- Feel for “melting” into the floor for the remaining time you have.
Complete your yoga session by rolling onto your side into a fetal position and then pressing yourself up to sitting. Namaste, friends!