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"Yoga At Home"; Easy Stretches You Can Do Daily

Most people are intimidated to try to practice Yoga at home. But it is easy and rewarding with just a little bit of guidance. Not everyone has time to go to a Yoga studio and dedicate an hour and a half to a Yoga class daily. But there are stretches that you can incorporate into a daily routine that will keep your back healthy and your spine supple. So here are some easy tips to get you started.

Who Can Practice Yoga at Home?

• Mothers with young children

• Career men and women with little time in their schedules

• Beginners and advanced Yoga Students

• People who are on a budget

• Anyone who wants to start YOGA AT HOME practice

• The elderly who want to keep themselves fit

What Will I Need for a "Yoga at Home" Practice?

• A Yoga mat

• A Quite Clean Space to Practice

1. *Though not required to start, I also recommend a couple of blankets, a block and a bolster or firm cushion and maybe a yoga strap. Once you go through the practice once, you’ll know if you will need any of these additional items.

If you aren’t sure where to get these, follow the links on this page to some options for yoga equipment.

The key to A YOGA AT HOME practice is one that is easy to remember, doesn’t take a lot of your time, but gives you a balanced and beneficial result. I have done this easy to follow routine with my 15-year-old son, and now he is doing it daily. (He is growing so fast, his muscles can’t keep up with his bones and he is in pain!)

What Are the Benefits of "Yoga at Home"?

A veteran Yogi taught this yoga routine to me when I had just started teaching Yoga years ago. A lovely woman of 78 years, who had used Yoga to keep her own spine supple, her health and radiance were all the proof I needed. Being motivated to take care of yourself builds confidence and courage, qualities that we all benefit from.

Yoga at Home Basic Routine:

THE HEALTHY BACK SERIES

1. Lay on your back on your Yoga mat. Take a few deep breaths in and out of your nose, aligning your awareness with your breathing. On an exhale, pull your right knee into your chest and hug it in deep. You can gently move your knee slightly toward the mid line of your body a couple of inches and then a couple of inches toward your right shoulder just to release the hip hinge. Eventually, settle in the middle and with every exhale hug your knee in deeper, making sure that your left leg is straight and firmly pressing into the floor with your left foot flexed toward the ceiling for grounding. Stay here for 5 deep breaths, shoulders away from your ears, neck and face relaxed.

2. Start to extend your right foot toward the ceiling, reaching through your heel. Your right leg should be straight up and down; perpendicular to the floor, if your hamstring is tight it may not be perpendicular. Reach around to the back of your right leg and gently start to draw it toward you. As you draw the leg toward your, gently move the top of your outer right hip and thigh away from you, creating a “tug of war” feeling. This aids in creating space in the hip joint. If you can’t reach the back of your right leg, no worries, just bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor, this will allow the right hamstring to release enough for you to wrap your hands behind your straight right leg. Or use a strap behind your leg so that your back stays on the floor with both legs straight. Vigorously extend your right heel of the ceiling keeping your pelvis on the floor. 5 Breaths here. Shoulders and face relaxed.

3. With your right hand grab the outside of your right foot and pull your knee toward your armpit until your right leg is at a right angle. Your arm should be on the outside of your right leg with the elbow bent for leverage. (Half- happy baby) if you can’t get your leg to a right angle, again, bend your left knee and place your foot on the floor. Keep your left knee straight up and down-as there is a tendency to let it flop to the side. 5 Breaths here. Breathe into what you are feeling.

4. Now take your right ankle and place it on top of your left bent knee. “ Thread the needle” of the space between your legs with your right hand and clasp a hold of your left shin. Keep your back and head on the floor, gently using your right elbow to press your right knee away from you as you draw your left knee toward you. This gentle tug of war will start to activate the periformis muscle deep in the hip. Breathe into what you are feeling, watching instead of reacting to the sensation. Releasing tension here will unlock stores of feeling as well as release any tightness in the low back. 5 Deep breaths or more. Then Release.

5. Cross your right knee over your left. Hug your knees as close to your chest as possible and placing your arms on the floor “in a cross” position, allow your legs to fall to the left on an exhale. Turn your face and look toward your right hand, anchoring your right should to the floor. If a good portion of your back is not on the floor and this twist seems too extreme for your low back, simply bring your knees together instead of crossing them and look to the right hand. If this still doesn’t provide relief, let your legs rest on a bolster or pillow on the side so that your back can release. 5 deep breaths, inhaling into your chest, and exhaling drawing the belly toward your spine, giving your organs an internal massage. On an inhale, bring your knees up, hugging your knees to your chest. Anchor your tailbone to the floor. Then gently stir your knees in a circle, massaging the sacral-plexis at the base of your spine on the floor, change directions to circle your knees the other way, and then change sides. Left knee comes to your chest, right leg straight. Notice the difference between the sides, breathe and repeat the previous 5 steps now on your left side. This whole routine should take around 15 minutes and can be done in the morning after rising and/or at the end of a long day or post exercise. ENJOY YOGA AT HOME!

What if I Want to Do Yoga at Home and Have More Time?

If you want to add to the Yoga at home healthy back series I recommend doing some Sun Salutations to get the circulation moving and increase some heat to the muscles of the body. These can be done before or after the Healthy Back Series. I prefer before.

"½ Sun Salutations"

Standing at the front of your mat, feet together, big toes touching, take a moment to stand in mountain pose. (Tadasana) All four corners of your feet are anchored into the floor, the thigh muscles are firm and engaged the entire time, the tailbone is descending and your heart is lifted. It’s as if your whole body was being dangled from a string at the top of your head, vertebrae on top of vertebrae. Arms are straight beside you fingertips toward the floor.

On an inhale, sweep your arms over head, palms touching. Look up. As you exhale, swan dive your chest forward, arms wide, spine extended until your fingertips touch the floor and let your head release. Thighs stay firm.(If your hamstrings are tight you can bend your knees and slowly work your legs toward straight, or place a block on the floor in front of you to rest your hands on.) Inhale, look up and lift your heart, extending through the spine. Exhale fold in toward your legs. releasing the head and neck. Inhale, lifting your chin first, then your heart, sweep the arms wide, and come up, palms touching at the top. As you exhale, slide the hands down the front of your body to your heart. Repeat as many times as you want with a minimum of 3-5 to start.

If you have a more advanced practice you can move on to Surya Namaskar “A” or “B” Or follow with:

“Classic Sun Salutations”

Standing in mountain pose Sweep your arms overhead and hook your thumbs, lifting your heart without “popping out” your front ribs extend through your torso.

As you exhale, fold forward, laying your chest on your thighs and hook your thumbs (opposite way) behind your back. Reach your hands toward the ceiling without losing the clasp, opening your shoulders and straightening your legs. Inhale, sweep your arms up, parallel with your shoulders and sit down in chair pose (Utkatasana)

Exhale fold your chest on your thighs and straighten your legs (Uttanasana) On an inhale step your right foot way back into a lunge with your right knee on the floor, hook your thumbs again and lift your arms and chest. Exhale, lean forward, hands on the floor either side of your right foot and step back into a plank position-( top of a push up) Inhale hold plank one breath, lifting your belly toward your spine, looking forward. On your exhale, drop your knees and lower your chest between your hands and rest your chin on the floor. (Your butt should still be high in the air) Inhale, sliding forward on your belly like a snake, elbow hug the body, lift your chest into Cobra pose, shoulders away from the ears. Lower your face as you exhale and press into your hands up to all fours or back to plank and then to Downward Facing Dog, hands and feet shoulder distance, hips high arms and legs straight creating the shape of an upside down “V”. Stay for one breath. On an inhale step your right foot forward, drop your left knee to the floor and lift your arms up overhead clasping the thumbs. Exhale, folding forward, hands to either side of the right foot, lift your hips and draw the left foot to meet the right at the front of your mat. On an inhale lift your heart and look up, Exhale fold into Uttanasana- forward fold. Inhale back into chair pose, knees over ankles, tailbone down. Exhale press into the heels to stand and release the arms to your sides.

Change sides, this time stepping back with the left leg first.

Repeat at will, balancing your sides.

Follow the pictures on this page if you get lost. Once you’ve repeated it several times, your body will remember and your mind can take a rest and focus on.