It’s generally agreed that a regular yoga practice can keep your body limber, flexible, and pain-free, as well as preventing injuries. It’s also pretty widely recognized that life is busy, and it can be hard to find the time to do everything that you know you should do to be healthy (get enough sleep, eat well, get fresh air and exercise, have fun with friends and family…).
So, I’ve given careful thought to where we need the most work (knees, hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck is what I came up with), and what yoga poses are particularly good for those parts of the body, while still being relatively accessible (manageable by the typical westerner who spends way too many hours sitting at a desk). And this is what I came up with – a five minute yoga workout, consisting of five yoga poses focusing on those five key areas of the body. My recommendation – spend five minutes on this immediately after you wake up each morning, before you start your day. Also check out my other 5-minute yoga suggestions.
|Pose 1 – Virasana ‘Hero’ (knees)|
|Kneel on the floor, with your body upright. Keep your knees together, and separate your feet to just over hip-width apart. Leaning your upper body slightly forward, sit down between your feet. Wiggle your hips back and forth a few times to get a little further into position. Make sure to sit with your back straight, shoulders back and down.
[Modification] If your current flexibility prevents your hips from comfortably reaching the floor, place a block, or cushion, or folded blanket between your feet and sit on that.
Remain in this position for 60 seconds.
Pose 2 – Gomukhasana ‘Cow Face’, variation (hips)
|Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front. Bend your left knee, and bring your left foot to the floor against your right hip. Bend your right knee, place it directly on top of your left knee, and place your right foot as close as possible to your left hip.
[Advanced] If your current flexibility allows, reach your hands to the floor in front of you, and bend forward from the hips as you walk your fingers forward into a forward bend.
Remain in this position for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.
Pose 3 – Jathara Parivartanasana ‘Revolved Abdomen’ (lower back)
|Lie on your back on the floor, with your arms stretched out to the sides, palms up. Bring your knees to your chest, and then lower them to the left, while turning your head to look towards your right hand. Keep your back flat on the floor as much as possible, twisting at the waist.
On each inhale, lengthen your spine, and on each exhale, twist a little deeper.
Remain in this position for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.
[Advanced] If your current flexibility allows, begin the pose lying on your back, with knees bent and the left leg crossed over the right (as in Garurasana Eagle Pose) before lowering them to the floor on the left. Again, maximize the twist, and keep your upper back and shoulders flat on the floor.
|Pose 4 – Ardha Kurmasana ‘Half Tortoise’ (shoulders)|
|Starting sitting on your shins in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose). Raise your arms to the sides and above your head, palms together. Bend forward from the hips, keeping your back and arms straight, until your little fingers and forehead touch the floor in front of you. Keep your hips on your feet, or as close as possible. With each inhale, stretch your arms further in front of you. With each exhale, lower your hips a little further.
Hold this pose for 60 seconds, breathing normally.
|Pose 5 – Sasangasana ‘Rabbit’, variation (neck)|
|Starting sitting on your shins in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), bend forward to touch your head to your knees. Holding your forehead against your knees, raise your hips as much as possible without needing to move your head forward. Focus on that intense stretch at the back of your neck and down your spine. With each inhale, stretch your neck further forward. With each exhale, raise your hips a little further.
Hold for 60 seconds, breathing normally.
[photos from yogajournal.com, thesecretsofyoga.com, and bikramyogasa.com].