Many of us agree the hardest part of a personal practice is actually getting on the mat. We tend to forget that any practice is better than no practice at all. We also tend to forget that 5 minutes everyday is more beneficial than 3 hours once a week.
It is the little things we introduce into our day as a consistent base practice that will really make a difference to our lives. After incorporating something into your day, it becomes easier to build up to a longer daily practice, and feel okay with dropping back to the minimum when life really is full. Below, a selection of practices for the ‘in between’ moments, which we know are better filled with yoga than with instagram.
Uddiyana bandha in bed: Yes you can practice yoga without even getting out of bed. Bend the knees and bring your heels flat to the mattress. Take a couple of rounds of uddiyana bandha, the upward abdominal lock (if you don’t have an uddiyana bandha practice it is best learned from a teacher. You can view it on youtube and read about it on yoga journal, too.) Before the snooze alarm sounds you’ve strengthened the abdominal muscles and diaphragm, massaged the solar plexus, heart and lungs and stimulated digestion and blood circulation. This can also be practiced in the shower, too.
Jasmine Tarkershi’s 5 minute chakra balancing sequence. Jasmine of Laughing Lotus San Francisco somehow managed to fit an entire chakra balancing sequence into less than five minutes, so you have time to do a little asana, and eat breakfast before work. You might like to watch the video first, and then take the practice a little slower though…
Take 5 minutes to meditate. Although many meditation traditions suggest a practice of twenty minutes or longer, as little as 3 – 5 minutes of meditation will make a huge difference in your day. Take a comfortable seat on the floor, in a chair, or in the (parked!) car and just be. Observe the breath or use a mantra such as so hum (inhale so, exhale hum) take a moment after your practice to sit and drink in the effects.
Take a real tea break. Usually we grab a coffee on the way to work or make a cup of tea and leave it to turn cold on the bench. Perhaps try to take 5-10 minutes to carefully prepare a cup of tea, while doing nothing else. Buy loose-leaf leaves and look up the correct brewing instructions. Use a teapot and a cup that feels nice to hold. Focus completely on making the cup of tea, without checking email while it is brewing. Inhale the aroma of the tea and sip mindfully to reset.
Chanting in the car. Stuck in traffic? Don’t scream and swear, chant! Improve concentration and release stress with a Sanskrit chant. Listen to the speakers and sing along, or even better just go for it, and turn a potentially stressful situation into a yoga practice.
A meditative walk. Thich Nhat Hanh has a beautiful quote “walk as if the earth is kissing your feet” – but how many of us have ever walked like this? In a walking meditation, take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips and your heart open to an experience of peace… bonus points if you go barefoot, too.