Some days I simply don’t have time to do a full yoga practice. Maybe I slept in and had to run off to work. Perhaps I’ve been traveling and can’t find time for the practice. Maybe I’ve promised my sister I’ll babysit her precocious three-year-old for the day. Life gets busy and every once in a while I think it’s totally okay to skip my daily sadhana.
But, we all have five minutes, right? We can all carve out a mere handful of minutes for yoga if we know exactly what to do. If this is the case, and you only have five minutes to do a quick yoga practice, here are five simple poses to move you through a complete, quick and peaceful practice in only five minutes.
Cat-cow pose is a wonderful pose to help lengthen your spine and prevent lower back pain. With cat-cow pose, you increase spinal flexibility by stretching the entire spine and even the neck.
Come to all fours, making sure your wrists are directly beneath your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips. You’re in what is often referred to as a tabletop position. On an inhale, arch your spine into cow pose. On an exhale, round your spine into cat pose. Alternate between arching and rounding your spine, inhaling as you arch and exhaling as you round. Visualize the breath clearing out blocked energy in the spine and neck. Breathe deeply into your spine, allowing fresh prana to circulate all throughout your body. Complete five rounds of cat-cow.
(Here's how Conscious Breathing Will Boost Your Yoga Practice.)
Child’s pose helps us relax, while also lengthening the lower back and opening up the hips. It’s a great pose for digestion, too.
From cat-cow pose, move slowly back into tabletop position. Then bring your big toes together and sit back on your heels. Separate your knees and place your torso down between your legs. Your arms can be stretched out straight in front of you with the palms facing down, or they can be on the floor along your torso with the palms facing up. As you breathe here, close your eyes and feel your neck and spine grow long. Rest in child’s pose for 30 seconds.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Downward-facing dog pose is an all around wonderful pose. It strengthens and lengthens practically all parts of the body.
From child’s pose, come to all fours again with the palms of the hands spread and toes facing downward. Now, lift your hips and pelvis up toward the ceiling. You should look like an inverted "V" shape. Take your heels toward the floor, lengthening the hamstrings and calf muscles. Press into the palms as your arms and shoulders get a nice workout. You should feel a deeply rejuvenating stretch all over the body. Take five deep breaths in while you hold this pose.
Supine Spinal Twist
Supine spinal twist is a great pose to alleviate back pain and elongate the neck and spine.
From downward-facing dog, come first onto your hands and knees, and then onto your bottom. Roll slowly down until you’re lying on your back. While lying on your back, stretch your arms into a "T" shape, palms facing down, and pull your knees up until they’re directly above your hips. As you exhale, gently lower your knees to the left, until they rest on the floor. Turn your neck to the right to get a good stretch in the neck and back. Take five long breaths here. Using your core, bring the knees back to center and then lower your knees to the right, allowing them to rest on the floor. Turn your head to gaze left. Take five breaths here as well.
To round out this five-yoga-poses-in-five-minutes practice, let’s come into our beloved savasana, otherwise known as corpse pose. Savasana is a pose of deep relaxation and restoration, which is why you should also close your eyes and turn your gaze inward.
From supine spinal twist, simply continue to lie on your back. Extend your arms and legs, so that you’re lying flat on your yoga mat in a totally relaxed position. Your palms are facing up at your sides and your legs are straight out in front of you with the feet totally relaxed. Feel as if you are sinking into the ground as if your body is very heavy. From the top of your head to the bottom of your toes, consciously relax every part of your body. Rest and breathe here for one minute.
High Five, You Did It!
There you have it: five poses in five minutes. This is your go-to yoga practice when you don’t have the time to do yoga! It’s short, sweet and still highly beneficial for your mind, body and spirit. If ever a day goes by when you think you don’t have the time for a well-rounded yoga practice again, now you'll surely think differently.
(For another quick sequence, try 5 Poses in 5 Minutes for a Complete Yoga Practice on Days You Have 'No Time'.)