The practice of yoga is a great way to build physical, mental and emotional strength and flexibility and doesn’t have to be hours long to provide benefit.
“I promote yoga as a healthy daily habit because it is accessible to all ability levels and easily modifiable for injuries and conditions,” explains Lindsay Curtin, clinical pharmacist at Riddle Hospital and registered yoga teacher.
“The demands and stress of our busy personal and work lives make it even more important to find a few minutes of the day to simply breathe,” Curtin says. “It’s amazing to witness the changes in how you feel after just a few deep breaths.”
Below, Curtin provides a short, gentle yoga practice that focuses on simple poses and deep breathing. She states that most of the poses are simple enough that they could be practiced in a quiet corner in the office or meeting room. Better yet, the practice below takes a modest five minutes.
Begin in a standing position. Face feet forward at hip width. Stand with hips over knees and knees over ankles so all joints are stacked on top of each other. Press the shoulders backward slightly. Stretch the crown of the head toward the sky. Hang hands beside hips with palms facing forward and fingers spread open. Begin to notice how you are breathing, coming into a natural, easy breath. (30 seconds)
Deep belly breathing
Staying in mountain pose, place one hand on low belly. As you breathe in through the nose, feel the belly expand and press the hand outward. As you breathe out through the nose feel the hand move back to the original position. At the end of the breath pull the belly button gently toward the spine. Feel the stomach muscles contract slightly. Repeat the inhale and exhale for five breaths. (One minute)
Place your hands on your hips. Keep your right foot forward as you step back into a lunge with your left foot. Make sure your front knee is bent, facing forward, and is directly over the front ankle. The back leg is straight with the toes pointing out to the side or slightly forward. The front of the hips and shoulders point to the wall in front of you. If you feel comfortable raise both hands straight over your head. Hold while you perform deep belly breathing for three breaths. Repeat on opposite side stepping back with the right foot this time. (Two minutes)
Stand with feet together. Place palms on the low back, fingers pointing down to the ground. Squeeze the elbows toward each other as you press the chest forward. Pull the belly button toward the spine and feel the stomach muscles contract. Start the mini backbend by gazing upward. Press the chest toward the sky first and bend backward slightly. If you feel strain in your low back, squeeze into the stomach muscles. Hold for one to three breaths. Slowly return to standing. (One minute)
From a seated or standing position: As you breathe in, reach your hands high overhead. Touch the palms together overhead. As you breathe out draw the pressed hands down to the chest. Repeat three times. After three inhales and exhales stand with palms together with thumbs resting directly over your heart. (30 seconds)