Spring is here and with January resolutions dwindling away with forgotten yesterdays, our physical bodies might have suffered the loss. With sunshine on the rise, our outdoor activities as well as hours spent chasing around our little ones may be increasing. I’d like to share a short 15 minutes sequence with you that wakes me in the morning and winds me down at night. No intimidating yoga poses here. Just simple breathing and stretching that you can do in the kitchen while the coffee’s brewing. Try it every day for a week and see how you feel.
- Mountain Pose w/ Sunshine Breath – Stand with your feet planted into the ground about hip distance apart and your arms at your sides. Soften your knees while relaxing your belly and your shoulders. Imagine that your feet are growing roots while the rest of your body is rising up, being lifted through the crown of your head. When you feel solid and grounded, begin to extend your arms out from your sides, fingertips spread. Lift them as far up over your head as you can, like you’re drawing a circle around your body. Work this upward movement as you inhale, and bring your arms back down in the opposite direction as you exhale. Repeat this Sunshine breath 5x, trying to extend the length of your inhale and exhale with each cycle.
- Standing Cat/Cow – Spreading your feet slightly wider than hip width, bend your knees to a comfortable level, making sure that they do not extend over your ankles. Place your hands gently on your thighs. As you inhale fill your belly with breath, open your chest forward and let your shoulders roll back and down as your chin lifts (careful not to over extend the neck). On the exhale, soften your chin toward your chest, let your shoulders roll in, soften your belly and let the shape of your spine imitate a halloween cat. Flow through this movement with 5-10 full cycles of breath.
- Side Stretch – Move through step 1 until your hands reach the top position, fingertips facing the sky. Take a moment to try and sink your shoulders back down away from your ears. With your right hand, gently grab your left wrist and pull up on that left arm to lengthen. Inhale as you do this. As you exhale, reach your left fingertips over toward the right. Try not to crunch in on your right side. Keep everything open and your heart forward. Inhale and rise back up. Exhale release your wrist and your arms all the way down and then repeat with the opposite side. Repeat once more on each side and then follow with one full Sunshine breath.
- Gentle Swinging Twist – With feet planted slightly more than hip width, soften your knees and allow your arms to hang loosely at your sides. Take a nice deep inhalation and feel yourself growing taller. When you exhale start to twist your torso and swing your arms. Your knees and feet remain still but allow movement to be free from your hips upward. Let the movement be spontaneous but fluid. Your breath should be easy. After a couple of minutes slow down the twist and come back to standing. Take one final Sunshine breath and then have a wonderful day!
Repeat this easy sequence as often as you like!
*Brandi Woolf has been practicing yoga for 15 years and has been a Certified Instructor since 2005.