The 7 Most Unusual (But Practical!) Times of the Day to Practice Yoga
After a long day, packing your yoga bag with the essentials and hitting the mat is a welcome treat for your bod. But sometimes carving out an hour for class, especially during the holidays, is just not realistic. There’s a happy medium between scrolling through #yogagrams as you sit in Couch-Cow and getting your flow on in a power vinyasa class. No, it’s not a cat yoga class (although that was really great). Behold: You can sprinkle yoga into idle moments throughout your day to get a serious dose of wellness without even trying. We talked to experts across the country to come up with seven tips for how to punctuate your stressful day with bits of Om. Namaste your way to a New Year’s resolution you’ll be able to keep!
1. Your cell phone is charging: How many times a day do you hear your phone ping while it’s charging and crouch down on the floor over it to scroll through emails? Guilty. But there’s a better way than hurting your back and putting a crank in your neck! “If you have your cell phone plugged in to charge and resting on the floor, come into Malasana, a deep squat, while you scroll through texts, emails or social media,” offers Rebecca Weible, Director and Founder of Yo Yoga! in New York City. “To come into Malasana, enter a deep squat while either staying on the balls of the feet or flattening the feet down to the floor, turn your toes out to line up with your knees. Press your elbows to the insides of the knees and hold your phone up in front of your face to avoid dropping the head forward,” explains Weible.
2. You’re stuck in a traffic jam: “Oh, traffic jams, got more cars than a beach got sand…” File those moments under: Totally. Not. Fun. But there’s an unexpected upside. Nuisances like traffic jams (and ditto for waiting in long lines while holiday shopping) prove to be an ideal moments to sneak in your yoga practice. “The most important aspect of yoga, and what distinguishes it from other forms of physical activity is the voluntary and purposeful use of the breath. Conscious breath is a powerful tool on and off the mat,” says Gina Marciano, yoga instructor at Studio Three in Chicago. “Pause for a few moments and become aware of your breath. Pretend that you are fogging up a mirror, but work to keep your lips pressed. That vibration will help any frustration or stress dissipate and give the body permission to relax,” adds Marciano. The more you practice this, the more you should notice the wand of positivity it waves over the more stressful moments in your day.
3. You’re sitting on the couch: Okay, clarification: You’e been sitting on the couch for too long. Fear not — neck rolls are your friend. “Sit so your head isn’t touching the couch and gently lower your chin to your chest,” says Patrick Mason, Yoga Instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas. “Slowly move your right ear toward your right shoulder. Come back to center with your chin lowered downward toward your chest and move your left ear toward your left shoulder. Repeat this process until your neck feels loose enough to roll further on each side until the back of your head rests between the shoulder blades. Then complete the full rotation in each direction until satisfied,” explains Mason. If you’ve been stationary on the couch for an extended period of time (queue that new-to-Netflix sesh), this move is exorbitantly helpful for relaxing your neck and upper shoulder area.
4. You’re in the elevator: Pfft, don’t feel guilty for not taking the stairs. Elevator rides are a match made in core stretching heaven. “Core strength is essential for a healthy back! Every time you ride the elevator or are standing in line at Starbucks, focus on drawing your naval point in and up,” advises Marciano. “This action can inspire great posture and supports a long and strong spine. Draw your lower ribs together, lengthen the waistline and draw the shoulders back,” says Marciano. Working on your posture helps usher in deeper, calmer breathing, which leaves your entire body feeling invigorated, nourished and energized. Hard to argue with those benefits, huh?
5. You’re in a waiting room: Stuck sitting in an office lobby or waiting area? “[This] is a great opportunity to give the outer hips a little TLC!” exclaims Marciano. “Sit up tall with both feet on the floor, cross your right ankle over the left thigh and keep the right foot flexed to protect the knee. The space between the legs should create a triangle shape as the right knee opens toward the right. Take 5-10 deep breaths and then switch sides,” offers Marciano. If you’re glued to your desk for most of the day, taking a break to do this pose a few times a day is also a stellar move.
6. You find yourself checking the time: Clock stretch is the perfect pose to slip into the day whenever you’re doing a time check (whether glancing at the wall or just checking your phone). “Stand with your side facing the wall about a foot away. Reach up with a straight arm, imagining there is a clock on the wall [or looking at the real one] and your arm is the hand at 12 o’clock. Breathe, always breathe. Without turning into the wall, move to one o’clock, two, etc., pausing at each number. Three o’clock will be parallel to the floor. Press your hand into the wall and turn your upper body to the center of the room,” explains Karen Verechia, South Carolina’s Hilton Head Health’s Yoga Instructor. “This is a great, simple chest and shoulder stretch. Drop the arm by your side and feel the difference. Repeat on the other side.”
7. You’re on a conference call at work: Long work call? Need a break while checking email? “Put your ankle to knee on your chair at least once a day while sitting at your desk at work,” offers Kelli Sousa, a yoga instructor at Google (when she’s not downward dogging, she also happens to be the Head of Sales for Google Consumer Surveys there) and Yoga Vida in New York City. “Sit on the front edge of your chair with your knees hip width apart, feet directly under knees. Place your left ankle on top of your right knee; make sure to flex your left ankle throughout the pose. Place hands behind you on the chair and lengthen your spine, rooting down sitting bones. Keep your shoulders back and hinge forward, keeping the top foot flexed. Breathing deeply, relax your jaw. Switch sides. [This stretches your] hips, buttocks, quadriceps and hamstrings as well as calms your mind and relieves anxiety.” Namaste, indeed, ladies.
Got any innovative ways to get your flow on throughout the day? Share with us @BritandCo!