“Goodness me,” said George as she reached for another bottle of ginger beer from her reclined position on the sofa, “today’s adventure was splendid!”. “You’re right,” said Anne, with a tired sigh. “But I’m glad we’re home. What a shame we haven’t got any time to do our yoga practice.” “It is a shame,” agreed Julian. “We’ve only got a few minutes before mother will have dinner on the table. Plus all my kit is dirty and Timmy chewed a hole in my mat.” “Rubbish!” exclaimed Dick. “Even with 5 minutes we can do a practice. And if I were you I’d lay off those gassy ginger beers, George. We know it wasn’t Timmy who made that noise last time you did a forward fold.”
Ok, so this whole scenario is a figment of my imagination. Sadly I don’t think George, Anne, Julian, Dick and Timmy the dog ever got involved in solving ‘The Mystery of Why It’s Sometimes Impossible to Bind Marichyasana D But Easy on Other Days’. Neither did they embark on an ‘Adventure to Where All the Hairbands You Put in Your Practice Bag Disappear To’. But – in my little pretend story, Dick did make a very good point.
Admittedly it’s not ideal to squeeze a practice into five minutes but let’s face it, sometimes that’s all you’ve got. And I’m a firm believer that anything is better than nothing. So if you’ve got five minutes to spare, these five poses might just help you to feel happier and healthier in the time it would take to watch another hilarious cat video or scroll through your ex’s photos on Facebook.
Ideally you’ll have warmed your body up a little bit – even if it’s just a quick roll around on the floor to loosen up the lower back, a neck roll or two and a few minutes of nice, gentle breathing. But if you’re coming at these cold, then that’s fine too. Just be sure to listen to your body, use your breath as a guide and move carefully.
You don’t even need to get your yoga mat out, or change your outfit as long as you’re wearing clothes you can easily move around in, and you’re not on a surface where you’re likely to slip. Much better to use your precious time bending and breathing, than scrabbling under the bed for your AWOL favourite leggings or hibernating sticky mat.
My suggestion is that you hold each of these positions for 1 minute. For the pedantic amongst you I realise that means that the whole practice will be 7 minutes long if you hold each side of the seated twist and warrior 2 for a minute each. So if you definitely haven’t got the time to squeeze in another minute or two, just hold each side for 30 seconds. Maintain a balanced, even, gentle breath in each pose. For each inhale think of lifting and lengthening; for each exhale think of grounding and releasing.
Ready? Let’s take five…
Wonderful 1: Downward Facing Dog.
1: Hands shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart.
2: Imagine a perforation in the mat (or whatever is under your feet). Feel like you’re tearing the mat apart; hands push forwards and down, feet push back and down.
3: Try to roll the inner-seams of your trousers out and back behind you. Let the heels move towards the floor.
4: Gaze towards the space between your knees or if your neck allows, towards your belly button.
5: Feel your shoulder blades slide away from your ears, and away from each other.
Terrific 2: Seated Twist
1: Keep the toes of the straight leg pointing up towards the ceiling.
2: Lift up through the top of the head, keeping the spine long.
3: Ground the base of the big toe and the little toe of the foot that’s flat on the floor.
4: Think of the twist originating from behind your belly button; allow that spiraling motion to move all the way up your spine.
5: Allow the gaze to rest on one thing. Keep the eyes soft.
Thrilling 3: Forward Fold
1: Keep the knees bent if your hamstrings are tight. If you can work the legs towards straight, keep a little softness behind the knees so the legs aren’t locked.
2: Think of taking your chin towards your shins, not nose towards the knees.
3: Allow the shoulders to drop down away from your ears and keep broad across the collar bones.
4: If you can’t reach your toes, loop a belt or towel around your feet instead.
5: Think of the whole pelvis tipping on the top of your femurs (your thigh bones) to take you forwards, not rounding the back and collapsing towards the legs.
Fantastic 4: Warrior
1: Feet are wrist distance apart. Front foot points straight forward; back foot turns in 45 degrees.
2: Keep the front knee stacked over your ankle; don’t let it roll in towards the middle of your mat.
3: Activate the back leg by lifting the inner thigh up towards the ceiling, and grounding down through the outer edge of the foot.
4: Think arms up, but shoulders down.
5: Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground; don’t lean out over the bent leg.
Fine 5: Bridge
1: Feet are a little bit wider than your hips. Both feet point forward, away from your bum.
2: Tuck the tail-bone under, and lift the hips using the muscles at the backs of your thighs, trying not to clench the bum cheeks.
3: Lift the chest to the chin, and gently lift the chin away from the chest.
4: Keep the thighs on two parallel lines; don’t let the knees roll in or out. Hold a block between your knees if you want an extra challenge.
5: Think of lifting and lengthening along all the front-lines of the body, from the tips of your knees, along the thighs, across the hips, all the way up the torso.