Sometimes I want a bite-sized portion of yoga. I mean a really little bite. Like one so small that I can do it while crossing the distance between my bedroom door and the bed. I’ve learned that something is better than nothing and a little yoga goes a long way (thanks, Adrienn).
So here are my ten favorite single yoga poses for those times when I can’t even muster a five- or ten-minute workout of any kind, like when my daughter takes 90 minutes to get to bed.
Chair will always be near the top of my list. It works out 250 muscles. (I learned this from Uchie Odiatu—check him out). It tones your stomach muscles, core, glutes, legs. If I feel like I’m losing my abs, I pull this pose out just before going to bed. Every second you hold it increases the results you’ll get (just like any power pose).
Possibly the champion of all yoga poses is plank. It strengthens your back, core, abdominals, and pelvic floor. Plank finds its way into every other type of workout, and with good cause. Cher can hold a plank for five minutes. The longest I’ve ever done is two and a half. Don’t ask me to do that today.
If you have shoulder or neck pain from working too long at your day job or side-hustle, try half-moon. It gets rid of the congestion in the neck and shoulder area and increases circulation in your arms, hands, and fingers. I love how it feels like tiny currents of electricity are shooting through my arms after I release my half-moon pose. Half-moon is part of the Bikram yoga warmup. I love the way it set my upper body up for a successful class.
Right before a certain four-year-old’s bedtime, you can sometimes find us rolling back and forth on the floor in a happy-baby yoga pose. This includes lots of giggles. It’s the first yoga pose I taught my daughter and is as fun as it is stress-relieving and therapeutic for the back.
If you can’t get enough of plank, turn it up a notch with the elbow variation. This is also called dolphin plank. I find it is easier to keep my form in elbow plank—a straight back—than it is in basic plank. A really fun variation is to start in elbow plank, push up into the dolphin variation of down dog, hold briefly, and flow back again. This is a flow you’ll want to repeat once you get the hang of it. It’s relaxing, strengthening, and feels oh-so-good on your upper and lower back.
“If you can just get a hold of mountain….” Also Adrienn. Adrienn has the most fantastic video about how mountain should feel. I never knew the beautiful complexity of this deceptively simple pose until I watched her video.
Though I’ve discovered some really good ways to add bursts of cardio to my workout routine through the Live Fit app, I still love yoga. These days, I alternate between short yoga workouts and short Live Fit workouts (which incorporate everything from cardio to strength to yoga to Barre).