If you’ve read any of my other blogs (and if you haven’t – why the flippity flip not?) you’ll have probably worked out that whilst I think yoga is all-kinds-of-amazing, and has very real life-changing potential, I am not the ‘you must spend 90 minutes on a mat every day or you’re a rubbish yogi’ kinda’ girl.
Of course, in an ideal world we’d all spend some quality time with our favourite flat friend every day. And if you want your practice (and your self) to significantly develop then the more you can do the better.
But we ain’t in an ideal world. If the only opportunity you can find to bend and stretch is whilst indulging in your favourite televised guilty pleasure, then I think you should take it. And here are some ideas how…
Before you start, remember that your body won’ t be warmed up so move carefully. Use your breath. Maybe turn the volume down (in the ad break, obviously!) so that you can have a little more focus on what you’re doing.
Cow Face on the Couch
Tuck your right heel up towards your left bum cheek. Take your left heel to the outside your right bum cheek. See if you can allow the two knees to stack on top of each other. Sometimes you might need to wiggle a little bit so that you can get your heels equally aligned on both sides. Allow the knees to nestle together, and rest your hands on the top of your feet. Lift up through the spine and sit as tall as you can. Don’t forget to do it on the other side.
Hips at home
Sit with your back supported by the cushions on the sofa. Bring the soles of your feet together, heels as close to your pubic bone as you comfortably can. Be very aware of any strain in the knees. If you feel any tension there, support the stretch by placing a cushion under each knee. Keep thinking of sitting up tall with each inhale, and perhaps taking your torso forwards with each exhale. Breathe and smile. If you can only do one of these things, breathe!
Lie along the sofa on your belly, with your upper chest resting on the arm of the sofa. Use a big cushion wedged up against it to help support your torso. Without clenching your bum cheeks, and keeping a feeling of being long through your lower back, gently lift your gaze up to the ceiling. Reach your arms up and forwards, keeping the shoulder blades wide and with a feeling of them sliding down your back. If reaching the arms forwards is too much, you can gently prop yourself on your elbows by resting them on the arm of the sofa. Breathe and remain there for as long as is comfortable.
Leave the cushion next to the arm of the chair, and sit so that your heels are resting up on the arm of the chair and the sofa is supporting the backs of your legs. Ensure you’re not locking the knee joints – think of keeping a very tiny bend in both joints. Inhale to life and lengthen the spine, and exhale reach for your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, let the hands rest on the legs instead. Allow each exhale to take your torso a little closer to the legs, without rounding the back. Are you breathing? Good!
Get down, Dog!
Drape yourself face down over the arm of the sofa, feeling it across the front of your hips. Reach for the floor. (If you can’t comfortably get your hands flat on the floor, use some blocks or make some secure stacks with books.) Place your hands shoulder width apart, ensuring you push down at the base of the thumb and first finger. Walk your hands away from the sofa so that you make a diagonal line from wrist, through elbow, all the way through your torso and up to your sitting bones. Activate the legs, pushing back through the heels. Let the head drop, and get long from the tip of your tail-bone up to the top of your head. Don’t forget to breathe.
Upside (not) down
One to make you feel like you’re 6 again. (Creating a Blanket Fort to follow in future editions!) Sit sideways on the sofa so the outside of your bum cheek is up against the back cushion. Turn and swing your legs up so that your feet are either hanging over the back of the sofa, or resting on a wall, with the back of both thighs resting on the cushion. As long as it’s comfortable for your neck, let your head hang off the front of the sofa. Either let your hands rest on your chest, or for an extra opening let your hands reach behind you towards the floor. Stay there for as long as you feel comfortable, and slide yourself back up on to the sofa once you’re done. Move slowly as you may feel a bit wobbly!