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8 Yoga Practices for Busy People

By Staff | July 7, 2021 | Mayo Clinic Health Information Library

A regular yoga practice — combining physical postures with breathing exercises and meditation or relaxation — provides many well-documented health benefits. Yoga can improve your flexibility, balance, posture, strength, mood and stress level, as well as help you manage chronic conditions. But you don't have to spend 60 minutes on the mat to reap the benefits of this ancient practice. In fact, even a little yoga can go a long way.

If you've practiced yoga before, try to experience the sensations and feelings that you learned in yoga class as you try these quick poses and practices. See if you can feel the strength of warrior two pose or the calm of corpse pose (savasana) within the regular rhythm of your day.

If you've never done yoga before, that's okay, too. Approach these steps with focus and awareness.

  1. Wake up with gentle yoga stretches. Give yourself a little time to wake up — splash some water on your face or have a cup of coffee, but don't eat too much. Then practice a handful of gentle yoga stretches in your pajamas. Notice which parts of your body feel open and which feel tight. Start your day with a better awareness for your physical body.
  2. Salute the sun every day. A sun salutation is a basic sequence of yoga poses that takes less than five minutes. But don't leap right from your bed into this sequence — you'll need a little warmup first. You could add a sun salutation onto your morning yoga stretches or try it at the end of your regular workout. Modify the sequence on days that you feel stiff or tight. Look online for some examples.
  3. Focus on your breath. Focus on your breath during the day, such as during a stressful meeting, at a traffic light or while waiting in line. Wherever you are, try to lengthen your inhalations and exhalations. Notice how your breath feels moving through your body. This can help refocus and reenergize your attention.
  4. Take a yoga break at work. Set an appointment or reminder for your yoga break on your work calendar. To relieve stress, try a series of gentle chair-based yoga postures, such as side bend, forward bend and back bend. Hold each pose for 30 to 60 seconds, focusing on slow breathing. If you need an energy boost, try a standing mountain pose with arms high over your head, followed by shoulder rolls or even a tree pose — standing on one foot and then the other.
  5. Practice good posture. Ground your feet on the earth, with your weight balanced evenly on both feet. Tuck your tailbone slightly and roll your shoulders back. Center your core all the way to the crown of your head. Allow your throat and face to relax. Hold your posture for a few breaths. You can try this during a conference or while you're waiting for your child's soccer practice to end.
  6. Approach your usual workout with more awareness. For example, if you're a runner, feel your breath in your body. Hear your feet on the treadmill or the jogging path. Rather than turning on your headphones and tuning out, try to tune in. This mindfulness brings a little yoga into your usual workout.
  7. Use yoga for strength training. Ditch your dumbbells for some core-strengthening yoga poses. Try boat pose or various plank poses.
  8. Wind down with corpse pose. Yoga classes traditionally end by having you lie flat on your back for several minutes of meditation or relaxation. This pose, known as savasana, can be a powerful way to end your workout — or a long day. You can use this pose to reflect on your day and how you feel or to relax and allow your body to be still.

Try these ideas to see what works best for you. Or use them as inspiration to find more time to relax or focus during your day.

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