“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
When you don’t have enough time in the morning for your yoga practice or daily fitness routine, but still want to prepare your mind and body for the day, I have a spirited plan for you. This 20 minute breath and movement practice on your mat will energize you from the inside out and exercise your entire body.
Roll out your yoga mat and sit comfortably on your bum with erect posture. Rest with open palms on your legs, close your eyes and tune into your breath. Deepen you breath so the inhales are full and the exhales are long. Focus on the sound and sensations of the breath as it moves in and out of your body. Try to stay with this quiet breath practice for 5 minutes. If your mind wanders to thoughts of the day ahead; don’t worry, just come back to the sensations of your breath. Setting a timer for 5 minutes can helpful, so you’re not worrying about the time.
Come to table top on your hands and knees. Gently move your spine up and down through cat and cow pose for ten breath cycles, Notice how the front and backside of your body opens and stretches with the inhales and exhales.
Now, curl your toes under and lift and open yourself up into downward facing dog pose. Feel the expansion of your ribcage with the in-breath and the the firmness of your low belly with each exhale. I love the way downward facing dog opens me up from the inside out. Stay here for 5 breath cycles.
Float into plank pose or high push-up position. Hug the front of your body up to your back body – feel the firmness of your abdomen. Stay here for 5 breath cycles.
Lower yourself slowly to the mat. Hug your elbows and belly in as you descend to the mat. Little cobra pose. Lead with your heart as you lift your chest up and forward until you feel your spine gently flex. Enjoy the opening across your chest and shoulders. Stay here for 5 breath cycles. Now, lift back to down dog. Extend your right leg behind you, bend your knee and externally rotate your hip to open. Repeat on the left side. This will feel delicious!
From down dog you will float again into high plank, lower to the mat, lift your chest and extend your arms, then move back to down dog. Repeat this cycle of movement 10 times. Join your breath with the movements – one breath, one movement. Move slowly and mindfully. Finish the sequence with 10 pushups on your toes or knees.
Rest in child pose for a minute. Wheww!
Lay on your back with your legs out-stretched and place your hands by your hips, out to the side or under your bum for more back support. Flex your feet and begin to alternately lift your legs straight up and down for 100 repetitions. (For a greater challenge, place your hands behind your head and curl your shoulder blades off the floor.) For variety sake and to target the oblique muscles, alternately cross your elbows to the opposite leg when you lift your shoulders off the mat. To modify this exercise, bend your knees.
Lay on your back and stretch out from your toes to your finger tips. Set up for a simple bridge pose and stay here for 5 breaths. Lower back to the mat and drop your knees side to side a few times.
Inhale deeply, then sweep your arms around to hug your knees into your chest – exhale completely. Curl your upper torso off the floor until your nose meets your knees for a more challenging experience. Roll forward and back 3 times. Repeat this sequence 10 times.
Spinal twist. Rest on your back with your arms in a T shape or over your head. Lower your knees together to the right and rest them on the floor for a few breaths. Repeat this on the left side. Lovingly, hug your knees to your heart once again – just because it feels so good.
Stay on your back. Bring the bottoms of your feet together and allow your knees to unfold like a butterfly. Rest one hand over your heart and the other over your belly. Close your eyes, soften your breath and feel your true essence. Be still here for at least 2 minutes.
Slowly, rise up and awaken to the joy of being you. Come back to the comfortable seat you started in – just 20 minutes ago. Join your palms at your heart center. As you bow gracefully to honor your inner light, acknowledge the courage, strength and compassion you have cultivated to begin your day in such a healthy way.
Take this Body & Soul morning practice with you on the road. It’s simply perfect in a hotel room.