I developed this sequence a few years back when people asked me about practicing Yoga at home between classes. This one is a well-rounded practice because it has poses from every pose family. It moves the spine in seven different directions, axial extension (lengthen), rotation (right and left), lateral (right and left), flexion (folding), and extension (back bending). It's a great way to start, break-up, or end your day.
It is aptly named "Yoga quickie" because it can be done in under 5 minutes! We lead very busy lives but 5 minutes out of your day is very manageable, realistic, and a good place to start with a home Yoga practice. You can stretch it out to be longer than 5 minutes (no pun intended) if you hold the poses for longer.
Sukhasana ~ Easy Pose
Sit with your legs crossed. You may want to raise your seat with a bolster, firm pillow, or firm folded blankets. You can support your knees with blocks or books. If you have any issues with your ankles you can wrap a blanket around them. Relax your feet, knees, and hips. Lengthen from the base of your spine out to the crown of your head. Relax your jaw and face. Draw your shoulder blades back and down, aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips.
Bring your awareness to your breath. Feel yourself grounded and the support by the earth underneath you. Whatever thoughts, feelings or physical sensations arise allow them but then let them go and pass...bringing your awareness back to your breath again and again.
Samkalpa ~ Set Your Intention
Your samkalpa, or intention, is a word or phrase, it is something to help keep you focused on your mat. It is something you want to direct more of your attention and energy toward, on and maybe even off, your mat.
Bring your palms together to your heart in Angali Mudra. Press them together but leave a small opening between the hands like the bud of a flower, that signifies the potential you have for transformation.
Gentle Seated Twist
Inhale your right arm up and back, bring your fingertips or palm to wherever it reaches. Bring your left hand to the outside of your knee. Inhale to lengthen and exhale to twist opened, gaze behind you if it feels ok for your neck. Work without forcing, keeping your breath smooth and even. Do the same thing on the left side.
Balasana ~ Child's Pose
Make your way onto your knees, sitting with your legs tucked underneath you. If you have knee issues put a blanket under your knees for some extra padding. Inhale and lengthen from the base of the spine upward. Exhale and hinge from the hips. Release your forehead toward your fists, hands, a block, or the mat.
Stretch your arms out toward the top of the mat. Inhale, on the exhale walk your hands to the right. Breath there. Inhale, on the exhale bring yourself back to center. Do the same thing on the left.
Marjaryasana/Bitilasana ~ Cat/Cow ~ Cat Stretch/Dog Tilt
Make your way to table top position. If you have knee issues you can have a blanket under your knees for some extra padding. Stack shoulders, elbows, wrists, with fingers spread and stack hips directly over knees.
Inhale and on the exhale tuck your tailbone, round your spine, and tuck your chin. For more rounding you can press into your palms and fill up your upper back. On the next inhale tilt the pelvis drop the belly, and bring the head up last. Allow the breath to guide your movement and warm up the spine.
Adho Mukha Svanasana ~ Downward Facing Dog
From hands and knees tuck your toes under, sink your hips back toward the feet, stretch your arms out keeping your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and middle fingers in alignment and align your head with your arms. Inhale and on the exhale press into your palms, lift your knees and send your hips back.
You can bend one knee and the then other to peddle out the feet and stretch the backs of the legs. Work to press into the palms, keep the spine long and head aligned with arms. You can bend your knees for a modification, if the hamstrings are tight or if you are rounding the spine. The long, flat back is more important than straight legs.
Plankasana ~ Plank Pose
From downward facing dog inhale and on the exhale shift your weight forward into plank pose. Align shoulders, elbows, wrists and keep your fingers spread wide. Align your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. Think of yourself in a tadasana ~ mountain pose. Breath in the pose. If you don't yet have the strength to do this pose you can modify by bringing your knees to the mat.
*Please note, I am out of alignment in these poses, my bum needs to be a touch lower and I should be looking down.
Ragdoll ~ Utanasana
Make your way back to downward facing dog from plank and then either step your feet toward your hands or bend your knees and walk your hands back to your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent, especially if your hamstrings are tight. Fold from the crease of your hips, keeping belly connected to your thighs. Your arms can hang or you can hold opposite elbows and swing gently from side to side. Cultivate being passive and receptive here.
To come out of the pose bend your knees and bring your hands to your hips. Draw your shoulder blades toward one and other, coming to a flat back, press into your feet and use the strength of your back to lift yourself up to a standing position.
Tadasana ~ Mountain Pose
Bring your feet hip width apart, second toe straight ahead. Lift your toes off the mat and spread them wide then release one toe at a time. Feel your feet on the ground, you may want to shift your weight to find your center of gravity. Once you find it really root your feet, pressing them into the mat. Then engage the muscles of your legs, hugging the muscle toward the bone. Your pelvis is in a neutral position without tucking or tilting. Engage your core, drawing you bottom ribs down. Inhale your shoulders up, back, and down and draw the shoulder blades toward one another. Keep your core engaged. Relax your jaw and face.
Align your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. Become the mountain with your feet in the valley and crown the summit. Breathe here and feel your strength and the rooting yet rising.
Anahatasana ~ Standing Heart Opening Pose
Bring your palms to your sacrum with fingers pointing up or down. Inhale and exhale drawing your shoulder blades and elbows toward one another. Keep your hips stacked over your feet. Inhale lengthen from the hips, arching your back, draw your heart and belly up and gaze toward the ceiling if that is ok for your neck. Breathe smooth and evenly.
Viparita Karani ~ Legs Up The Wall
Sit with your hip near the wall off your mat. As you roll onto your back pivot to move your bum to the wall with your legs along the wall. If you have tight hamstrings you can have your bum further from the wall. If your legs feel like they are externally rotating (rolling out) you can use a yoga strap or belt to hold them together so that you can really relax.
For more of an inversion you can put a firm folded blanket under your low back against the wall. You can also cover up with a blanket. This is a great stand alone pose to do before bedtime as it helps to soothe your nervous system. To come out, bend your knees and roll to your right side, resting your head on your arm or prop. Press into your palms to come up.
Apanasana ~ Knees to Chest Pose
Bend your knees and draw them in. Bring your hands to the tops or backs of your knees. Check in with your low back and there may already be the right amount of stretch there. If you want more though inhale and on the exhale draw your knees in a little bit closer. You can do this a few times, using the breath.
Savasana ~ Corpse Pose/Final Relaxation
This pose is simple but not always easy. Let your feet and legs roll out in their natural position of repose. Bring your arms at your sides with palms facing up, draw your shoulder blades underneath, tuck your chin and lengthen through the back of your neck and spine. If you feel vulnerable you can bring one hand to your heart and the other to your belly.
For some like those who are busy in their bodies, accustomed to being on the go, new to relaxation practices, or have a trauma history, this pose can be very challenging. Other options would be side lying, or a 30 degree angle pose with bolsters. Some props you may want to use are to support the backs of your knees with a bolster, ankles and head with a blanket, to cover up, and use an eye pillow to block out the light.
The benefits of this pose are huge. It is an opportunity to integrate the benefits of your Yoga practice. It's a time to work on the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest. It is also a time to let go and get a glimpse of your true nature, your large "S" Self. You may also practice this as a stand alone at home, ideally for 20 Minutes everyday.
I hope you enjoy this practice! Please let us know if you have any feedback in the comments below and feel free to let us know if you tried it and how it went!