We’re all doing our very best to stay sane during quarantine, but many of us are starting to go a little stir crazy. Feeling out of sorts is totally normal, all things considered. But, even if you only have a few minutes a day, practicing yoga can help relieve anxiety in your mind and stress in your body.
As a yoga instructor, I’ve seen the benefits of my practice in full force during this quarantine. Yoga not only helps alleviate tension in your body, but it also tames anxious thoughts by tuning your mind into the present moment. It’s your time to let anxious thoughts and worries fall away with every exhale. The best part is, you don’t need any equipment or tons of energy to get the benefits. All you need is a few minutes, your own body, and your breath.
The best way to make your yoga practice work for you is to harness the power of your breathing. You can create a shape with your body, but if you don’t breathe new “prana” or energy into that space, you will feel less rejuvenated and renewed. Deep breathing has shown to tame stress hormones, so try to remember to breathe all the way into your belly.
The following yoga sequence can be practiced anywhere and at anytime — I like to do it first thing in the morning and in the evening. It isn’t strenuous, so you won’t work up a sweat, but it will help you feel loose and rejuvenated. This practice is suitable for beginners, but of course, if anything feels funky in your body, come out of the pose. Stay in each posture for at least five to ten deep breaths, or longer if you feel so inclined!
- Stand up straight and tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your hands down at your side, palms facing forward.
- Tuck your tailbone in slightly and draw your lower belly in towards your spine. Keep your shoulder blades rolled down your back so your spine is straight and your chest is open. Make sure you’re distributing your weight evenly between both feet.
- For an added benefit, take this pose against the wall and feel your back press into it as you inhale, encouraging expansion in the diaphragm. Close your eyes. The deeper you breathe, the more grounded your body will feel once the exercise is over.
Standing Forward Bend
- Begin in mountain pose and inhale the arms up overhead, and as you exhale, hinge at your hips and fold down over your legs with your knees slightly bent.
- Keep the spine as straight as possible as you lower down, and engage the core and upper thighs, bringing the forehead toward the knees.
- On each inhale, fill your belly up with air. On each exhale, fold down a little deeper.
- From mountain pose, shift your weight to your right foot. Engage your core by pulling the muscles of the lower belly in, and lift your left leg by bending your left knee.
- Grasp the outer side of your left ankle.
- Use your hand to guide your foot to rest along your inner right calf or upper thigh. Make sure you’re not resting your foot on the right knee!
- Align the center of your pelvis with your right leg, and use your hands to align your hips.
- You can either keep your hands on your hips or take them in front of your chest in prayer position. Stay in this posture for five to 10 breaths, then perform on the other side.
- Starting on hands and knees, walk your knees out wide, bringing your big toes to touch behind you.
- Rest your butt down onto your heels and bow your upper body forward and down.
- Either extend your arms out in front of you or along your sides.
- Rest your forehead on the bed and breathe deeply into the back body, pressing the hips down into the heels actively.
- Starting on hands and knees, slowly walk your hands out in front of you, keeping your arms shoulder distance apart and your hips stacked over your knees.
- Rest your forehead down. Pressing firmly down into your hands and arms, drop your chest towards the floor.
- Breathe deeply into the shoulders and rib cage.
Seated Forward Fold
- Sit up tall with your legs stretched out in front of you and your feet flexed (toes pointing toward the face, heels pushing forward). If your hamstrings are feeling tight, bend your knees.
- Inhale your arms up above you, feeling your rib cage expand with the breath.
- Exhale and fold forward over your legs. Breathe deeply.
- Start sitting up tall with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend both legs in toward you so that your heels come as close to your bottom as possible and your knees are pointing upward.
- Lean forward to lift your butt off the floor, pressing your elbows into your knees with your palms pressed together in front of your chest. If your heels come up, that’s ok. You can also add a rolled up blanket or towel underneath your feet for extra support.
- Lift your sternum up while pressing your tailbone down, making sure that you’re actively pressing the knees into the elbows.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
- Begin lying on your back with your feet down by your bottom.
- Start to drop your knees to each side, bringing the soles of the feet to meet each other, like you’re opening a book. If you feel tender in your groin, put a pillow or towel under each knee.
- Rest your arms down by your sides with your palms facing up.
Legs up the Wall
Practice this pose against the headboard of your bed or against a wall. If you like, you can practice a more restorative version by putting a pillow under your lower back.
- Sit up tall with your right side up against a wall. If you’re using a pillow, set it down against the wall and sit on top of it.
- Keeping your hips in contact with the wall, turn your body to the right slowly and bring your legs up onto the wall or headboard using your hands for support.
- Lower your torso down onto the floor and roll your shoulder blades back and down, ensuring that your spine is long and you’re not crunching your neck.
- Bring your arms out alongside you with your palms facing up.
Savasana seals every yoga practice. In this pose, your body will have time to process and heal from all the work you just did.
- Begin sitting up with your legs out in front of you.
- Lay down gently flat on your back with your palms facing up, extending the arms alongside the body.
- Close your eyes and relax deeply into the posture, taking full, deep, belly breaths. Thank yourself for the effort you put into your body and well-being today.
- Stay in this pose for five minutes, breathing intentionally.