This past summer I had a grand idea that I was going to become a yogi. Not a certified instructor or anything crazy like that, just someone who didn’t hate practicing yoga as much as I sometimes hate it. I’m a regular Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to my yoga practice. Though I’m horrendously inflexible, at times I can be very dedicated at trying to get better. And then, after a few weeks, when I realize I’m not really getting any stretchier, I can get very discouraged and leave it by the wayside all together. The result is that at 31 years old, I love to run and be active, but my body, which isn’t exactly old but isn’t exactly 18 anymore either, likes to resist sometimes. I’ve never been particularly flexible, but watching my 91 year old grandma touch her toes and knowing that I couldn’t was kind of a slap in the face.
Though my summer efforts were in vain, I made a much more concentrated effort once the school year started. Part of my summer problem was that I thought I would jump right in with 30-40 minutes a day, which is actually quite a bit, particularly if you’re not flexible and feel stupid trying to fold yourself into shapes you can’t actually navigate. Once I went back to work, however, I decided a better strategy would be to start with 10 minutes every morning.
Once upon a time I talked about having a mantra for Monday. Having a plan for attacking the beginning of the week has really helped me gain perspective on Monday mornings, and though I’ll always take an extra 10 minutes of sleep where I can, there’s something about jumping up and facing the morning head on that’s a positive jolt to the system. On the first day of school (a Monday!) I kicked off my daily 10 minute yoga non-routine. I found these 10 minutes easily. All it meant was hitting snooze one last time. I gt out of bed, started my coffee, used the bathroom, and then started my 10 minute yoga non-routine. Sometimes you’ve just gotta grab the bull by the horns.
I’m calling this my non-routine because it’s very fluid based on how my body feels, and I stay in poses as long as I feel I need to. Sometimes I get through all of it in six minutes and then start it again. Other times, I’m only 1/2 way through it when I hit ten minutes. I use the Calm app to play some meditative music while I stretch, and that also acts as my timer. When the music stops, I just recline back into child’s or corpse pose, take a couple deep breaths, and get up to face the rest of the day. I rarely get discouraged after just 10 minutes, and as a result, I’ve been able to stay at it a lot longer than my summer effort. I take Wednesdays off because sometimes it feels really good to know you get to stay in bed another ten minutes, but other than that, I’ve been able to keep it up for three weeks now.
A ten minute yoga routine for people who hate yoga routines (5 poses):
I’m not sure what the true yogi wisdom is for a yoga practice, but I generally hold each pose for as long as I’m comfortable, or until I can feel myself relax into the pose. What does “relax into it” mean? Well, for me it’s whenever my brain stops screaming, “I hate this!”
Each pose is demonstrated by a beautiful stock image because nobody wanted to see my morning struggle, and you’ll have a much better idea on how to hold the pose correctly!
POSE 1 – Child’s pose
I could probably spend all morning in child’s pose and call it good. I use it more as a base in which to center, calm my breathing and convince myself that the next ten minutes aren’t going to be as terrible as I generally anticipate. I average about two minutes in child’s post.
POSE 2 – Cobra pose
From child’s pose I slowly reach out and forward and elongate my spine stretching my full body into cobra pose. That may have sounded like I knew what I was doing. I feel like I know what I’m doing when I make this transition mostly because it feels amazing to stretch out in the opposite direction from child’s pose. Sometimes I slowly move from cobra back to child back to cobra just because that stretch feels awesome. I’ve spent a minute doing this and I’ve spent four minutes doing this. Find what works for you!
POSE 3 – Downward dog pose
This is my nemesis pose. I’m pretty sure that downward dog is the reason that I generally give up on yoga, but I’m making myself do it because I also feel like it’s one of those poses in which you can really tell if you’re improving. Be patient with yourself if this isn’t your strong suit. Admittedly, I spend the least amount of time in this pose. I started with 30 seconds, and have worked up to 40, but it’s not the best 40 seconds of my day.
POSE 4 – Pigeon pose
From downward dog I come down to a plank and then step one foot forward into pigeon pose. My hip flexors get ridiculously tight, and as a result, pigeon pose can be difficult and painful, but it feels so good to get a good stretch through the hips and glutes, and it really has helped them loosen up. I run out of time in pigeon pose a lot of times because I like to feel the gentle opening up of the muscles, particularly first thing in the morning. Just make sure you switch legs and give both hips and equal shot!
POSE 5 – Corpse pose
At this point, my ten minutes are sometimes up and I just roll over onto my back, take a deep breath in, and call it good. Sometimes I have a little time left and I can settle into corpse pose for a moment. It’s interesting to do, particularly on a Monday morning, because it’s super relaxing and you feel like maybe you could drift back off to sleep, but it’s actually an energized relaxation, and I almost always get up feeling better than I would have if I just would have laid like that in bed for 9 minutes while waiting for the snooze to end.
If there’s time remaining I’ll go back to a stretch that felt good, or just allow myself to rest in corpse pose for the final moments. Sometimes child pose feels like a good place to rest, so I’ll roll over and tuck back into that. The whole point is to make the body feel good, so I never go back to something that was particularly painful or push to the point of feeling miserable or stressed about it.
So it’s Monday, and maybe you’re already up, dressed, and thinking that there’s no way you’re getting into downward facing dog before heading out the door. No worries, maybe you try it tonight before bed. Or, perhaps you wait until tomorrow morning to give it a go. Whatever the case, know that this is as straightforward as yoga gets because I’m about as bad of a yogi as you can be. But I at least feel like I’m taking positive steps forward, and on a Monday morning, sometimes that’s just the best you can do! Namaste!