In a society that puts immense pressure on productivity, it can be a challenge to make time for ourselves. The practice of yoga has many therapeutic benefits, and carving out a few minutes in your day for simple movements in the morning or before bed can help improve focus, calm the mind, and support sleep. For those that can’t make it to a class and only have time for a few quality poses a day, this one is for you!
TO IMPROVE FOCUS
Poses that can help improve focus usually require concentration. Here are a few that you don’t need to be an expert yogi to benefit from:
Chair Pose — Utkatasana: This pose will help strengthen your inner thighs, hips, and ankles while actively toning other areas of your body like shoulders and booty. As you breathe, concentrate on sinking deeper into the pose. You’ll really feel the burn on this one.
Eagle Pose — Garudasana: Eagle pose begins to challenge your balance and gets your mind revved up as you concentrate on maintaining the posture of the arms and legs while standing still. This is another great pose to strengthen your inner thighs, hips, ankles, and shoulders.
Tree Pose — Vrksasana: To finish off this mini-series of poses, tree pose will help improve balance and promote grounding.
Tip for balance: try focusing your sight on a stationary object.
Hold each of these poses for 5-10 breaths and get lost in the moment. Keep things balanced by practicing eagle and tree pose on each side.
TO CALM THE MIND
In general, yoga is great for reducing stress and calming the mind. These are a couple of poses you can turn to when the day gets to be a little too much.
Wide-Legged Bend — Prasarita Padottanasana: Let the weight of your body hang, close your eyes, and breathe. This pose will allow for relaxation while also improving flexibility.
Supported Bridge — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Bridge pose will provide you with a phenomenal stretch in your chest, neck, and back. The posture also promotes digestion and is great for your organs. Either use a yoga block or similar object to prop yourself up, or tuck your shoulders underneath you for leverage to help remove the weight from your glutes.
Hold these poses for a minimum of 5-10 breaths, or until you feel the stress depart from your body and mind. Allow yourself some time to feel good.
TO PROMOTE BETTER SLEEP
It can be a difficult transition to unwind from the fast pace of the day. Rather than staring at a screen waiting to feel tired, or hopping into bed when your mind is still racing, try implementing these poses into your nightly routine.
Child’s pose — Balasana: Start off with a child’s pose to open up the hips and stretch out your arms and shoulders. While you sit back into the pose, spread your fingers and press your shoulders down to the ground.
Legs-up-the-wall — Viparita Karani: To make this pose more comfortable, fold a blanket evenly to lay on. Scoot your bum as close as you can to the wall and allow your arms to lay by your side. We are on our feet a lot and this pose aids in swelling of legs and feet as well as venous circulation. This will also relieve tension and stretch the lower back and hamstrings.
Corpse Pose — Savasana: One muscle at a time, one thought at a time, one breath at a time, allow your body to relax and shut down. This is a great time for visuals, as you imagine your body melting into the ground or growing roots. Go ahead and breathe naturally and release all control.
Try and hold each pose for around 3 minutes, giving yourself ample time to get in the mood for a restful night’s sleep.
Simple yet effective, you’ll be surprised how good it feels to incorporate these sequences into your daily routine. Give it a try -- we dare you :)