Life is busy. Work, kids, appointments, errands, there are a lot of demands on our time. Most people know how important it is to exercise and move your body, but it can be really hard to fit it in when you are short on time. It feels like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done, and sometimes that’s true.
However, one of the biggest obstacles to fitting movement into our day is our mindset. If you feel like you have to go to the gym for an hour or two to even make it worth your time, you are getting in your own way. Studies are showing that even short bits of exercise can have the same benefits as longer sessions, as long as you put in the effort (see Washington Post article here). When it comes to yoga, even a short, 15 minute practice can completely change how you feel. You can go from tight and stressed to looser and relaxed pretty quickly.
3 Ways to Fit Yoga into your day when you are short on time
1. Know why are you are practicing
What are your goals? Do you feel stiff and just want to stretch? Are you looking to get in a quick workout? Are you feeling stressed or anxious and want to do something healthful about it? Knowing your “why” can help you know what to do. If you just want to move and breathe, 15 minutes of Sun Salutations can be just what you need. If you are looking for a workout, add in some Vinyasas (Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog, Downward Dog), Warrior 2, Utkatasana, plus some flowing between standing poses. Play with holding the poses for 5-10 breaths or moving in and out of poses 5 times. Working your core will get your heart rate up as well, have fun with Knee to Nose, Plank to Side Plank, and even some Cat and Cow.
If you are just trying to calm your mind and stretch out a bit, focus on deep breathing, like Dirga breath (3 Part Breath) while doing different stretching poses, like Pigeon, Gomukhasana, Half-Split, Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold, and Half-Seated Spinal Twist. Hold each pose for 5-10 breaths then do the other side.
2. Short on time doesn’t mean no time. Let go of the idea that you need to move for an hour.
As I mentioned above, you can reap benefits from even a short yoga practice. I had a student tell me once that she was skeptical that a 15 minute yoga practice was even worth her time. She’s a long distance athlete who has added yoga to her training routine because she finds it improves her biking (and her overall sense of well being). This is what she emailed me afterward:
“It’s time for a big ‘I told you so!’ I just did my first 15 minute yoga practice. In my mind, 15 minutes isn’t enough time to even get moving! Wrong. Thank you, Janine. Much like meditation, I will now grab it when I can, even if it’s ‘just’ 15 minutes.”
3. Be creative with your practice
Flexibility is not only a physical benefit of yoga, it can help you cultivate some mental flexibility as well. While one typically practices yoga on a mat, you may not always have the space, or even have your mat with you. That shouldn’t dissuade you from getting in a practice. If you work at a desk, you might only have your chair. There are plenty of things you can do in a chair to feel better in the day (read my Office Yoga post). You can also practice standing poses behind your chair as well as warrior poses with your front leg resting on the seat of your chair. Other possibilities are push ups, or even Vinyasa flows with your hands on your seat and feet on the floor (only if your chair doesn’t have wheels). Watch an upbeat 12 min Chair Yoga video here.
If you do have space and access to your mat, put on some fun music to practice to. I find that playing upbeat “non-yoga” music can inspire me to move in new and different ways. It can break me out of a rut, improve my mood, and get me moving and sweating. Or it can encourage me to slow down and be more present in my body, letting my body guide me (rather than my head). Have fun and just move. Your body and mind with thank you.
To watch some short, free videos, click here!
For inspiring 15 and 30 minute classes to regularly fit into your day, click here!
If you are looking to add consistent, live, online yoga classes into your schedule, click here!
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