Yoga is a great way to keep every part of the body moving. By bringing awareness to the body and the breath, it can also help quieten down our busy minds and boost our energy and mental health to help us not only get through the day but strive in our lives.
Fitting exercise in our schedule can be hard but the beauty of the below practice is that you only need 5min to complete it so no more excuses! Doing this practice first thing in the morning will also jump start your day, boost your confidence and define your mindset for the day ahead so let’s get started!
Note: The below practice does not take into account any injuries you might have. Please be mindful of your body and if any of the poses create sharp pain please come out of it and modify the practice based on what is right for you.
Starting in a comfortable seated position, inhale both arms up into the air then release the right hand to the ground as you exhale. Reach the left hand up and over your head and breathe into your left ribs. Make sure to keep both sit bones firmly on the ground and keep the chest open, left armpit turning towards the sky.
Stay here for a few breaths, feeling the left side of the body lengthen and stretch with every inhale and maybe bending to the right a bit more with every exhale. Option to come down to your right forearm if available and comfortable.
Slowly come back to the centre on your exhale and reach to the other side with your next inhale.
Once you have done both sides, try adding some movement, flowing from the right side to the left with one breath for each movement. Inhale and bend to the right then exhale back to centre, inhale to the left and exhale to centre. You can repeat this for as many breaths as you like.
From your seated position, inhale both hands into the air and twist to the right as you exhale. Go as far as feels comfortable then release your left hand to your right knee and your right hand behind your buttocks.
Stay here for a few breaths, lengthening the spine as you inhale and maybe twisting deeper as you exhale.
Bonus stretch: staying in your twist, bring your chin to your left shoulder, looking down to your left knee. You should feel a nice stretch in the back of the neck and upper back.
Repeat on the other side.
Coming to your table top position with hands beneath the shoulders and knees beneath the hips (place a blanket beneath your knees if they are a little sensitive).
As you inhale: drop the belly to the ground, lifting the chest towards the sky and broadening the collarbones.
As you exhale: Pull your belly button to your spine, arch the back and look towards your knees. Drop the tailbone to the ground and feel the shoulder blades pulling appart from each other.
Repeat for a few rounds linking each breath to a movement.
Feel the entire spine waking up, from the tailbone all the way up to the neck.
Coming back to your neutral table top position the following exercise will awaken your core. The core is a key set of muscles that helps with our posture and our balance which in turn helps boost our confidence.
On your inhale bring the left leg up then your right hand up, you should already feel your core start to engage.
Pull your belly button to your spine and knit your ribs together to keep the shoulders and the hips stable.
Once you feel balanced, bring your knee and your elbow together as you exhale and extend your arm and leg back to the starting position with your inhale.
Repeat this for at least 3 more breaths then switch to the other side.
Low lunges & Half splits
From your table top position, reach your right foot in between your hands. You might also need to wiggle your back leg a bit so that it’s as straight as possible (don’t worry if you can’t get it fully straight though, that will come with time).
Keeping your hands framing your right foot, focus on pushing your hips forward and down towards the ground while keeping a 90 degree bend in the front leg.
The stretch that you’re aiming for here is in the front of the left hip.
Try to keep your chest lifted and if you want a bit more of a stretch, try taking your hands to your right thigh or maybe even reaching towards the sky.
Stay with the pose for a few breaths, sending your breath into the hips and keeping your ribs knitted together.
Then slowly extend your right leg, shifting your buttocks towards the back of the mat. It doesn’t matter if you can’t fully extend the leg out, as long as you feel a stretch in your right hamstring.
Focus on pulling the right hip back to lengthen the muscle.
If you need more, you can tuck the left toes and sit back on your left heel or you can reach the right toes to the ceiling.
Stay in the stretch for a few more breaths before slowly coming out of it.
Then repeat everything on the left side.
Coming back into your tabletop position, bring the toes to touch and send the hips back towards your heels. Release your body down to the mat for a restful child’s pose.
Your hips might not come all the way down based on your level of flexibility and that is fine, work with where you are at.
You can bring you arms closer to your body with your fingers reaching towards the toes for a more relaxed pose.
Stay here for a few breaths.
Last but not least, it’s time to get ready for Savasana. While this might not feel like an essential pose, don’t skip out on this practice as it allows the benefits of the yoga session to sink into the body. It also reconnects the mind with the body and allows us to set our intention for the rest of the day.
If your mind feels a bit scattered it might be good idea to listen to some guided meditation to help you focus. Background mediation music can also be helpful to anchor your attention if you feel yourself getting lost in your thoughts.
Whatever you choose remember to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Stay in this pose for as long as you want or need.
Once done, it’s time to allow reality to come crashing back in but after this practice you should be feeling open, grounded and ready to take on the day ahead.
Now what are you waiting for? Go get’em!
Mood Active provides a wide range of small group exercise classes for people with mild mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.