When you think of “Yoga” what comes to mind? A trendy exercise class filled with uber bendy people sweating and contorting themselves for an hour or more everyday?
While a yoga practice does indeed consist, in part, of active physical movement, it is NOT limited to ONLY that.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras provides it all! It teaches us that through yoga, we can become physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually ethical beings able to live meaningful and enlightened lives.
What prevents this from happening? Nothing but ourselves!
Not enough time ranks high on the list of one million excuses not to do yoga, right next to “I am not flexible enough,” and “I am too out of shape.”
Excuses show up to entice you into procrastinating a little bit longer, or persuading you into believing, yet again, that something else takes priority over your well-being. You can create a satisfying and fulfilling practice in a small amount of time, regardless of your flexibility and fitness level!
Try these simple 5-minute yoga practices exploring each of the eight limbs to calm your mind, enhance your ability to focus, and invigorate your body.
1. Respect Others
Practice one generous act a day. Unexpectedly treat your co-worker to their morning coffee, offer to help someone who seems overwhelmed, or send a text to that old friend you’ve lost contact with and tell them how much they mean to you.
Do these things without expecting anything in return, and you’ll get an overwhelming sense of FEELING GOOD!
2. Love Yourself
Begin your day by acknowledging three things that you’re thankful for. This simple morning routine allows you to keep your attention on the many “ups” that exist in your life, so when the “downs” appear they won't bring YOU down!
Seeking an uplifting attitude not only improves your health, but helps you learn how to shift perspective when you start to fall into familiar patterns of self-sabotage. Never lose sight of your divine nature!
3. Salute the Sun
Too busy to move your body? You can actually complete 5 full rounds of Sun Salutations in 5 minutes if you flow vigorously, and still not feel rushed.
However, awareness trumps quantity, and if you prefer a slower movement that still gets your heart pumping, sending a flood of happy-making chemicals through your bloodstream, then don’t count your repetitions—set the timer and just GO for it!
This brief yet powerful asana practice reminds you that you don’t always have to push yourself to extremes to wake up your inner sunshine and receive the benefits of yoga. You just might feel inspired to keep on flowing!
4. Breathe In and Breathe Out
As simple as this sounds, slowing down and breathing through chaotic moments during the day can feel like an impossible task! We often take our breath for granted, missing so many opportunities to tap into the healing and balancing effects that even a short pranayama sesh can provide.
Here's one that is effective in harmonizing the rational mind with your creative free spirit, AND also aids in relieving nasal congestion from allergies or a cold: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhan). Give it a try:
- Place your index and middle finger of your right hand at your third eye.
- Use your thumb to gently close your right nostril.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril and when complete, close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale out of your right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril and when complete close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale out of your left nostril.
- Complete 9-12 cycles then sit quietly and soak in those feel good vibes allowing your natural breath to resume.
5. Click Save AND Exit
A majority of our senses extend outwards through interactions with others in person or through technology. Try unplugging for a few moments during the day.
Remind yourself that you can tune out, practice some cleansing non-attachment, and tune into your essential nature. If you get lost all too easy in everyday, fast-paced worldly interactions, find solace in remembering that it only takes 5 minutes to find yourself again!
6. Take a Break From Multi-Tasking
Do ONE thing and do it well! I know life can feel like a series of moving puzzle pieces at any given time and most of us manage work, family and multiple projects all at once.
For 5 minutes, intend to focus on ONE thing at a time. Reduce your stress simply by removing the pressure to BE everything to everyone ALL the time. Instead, take time to JUST BE and engage fully with the present moment.
Mantra assists in slowing down overactive mental activity. Attempting to silence the mind completely can frustrate anyone, and often proves futile because the mind likes to stay busy.
Do NOT fight your true nature, allow it to guide you towards peace. ~Judy Rukat
The "SO HUM" mantra translates as "I AM THAT"—revealing one's true nature, soothing anxieties and alleviating fears. Practice this meditation for 5 minutes to revive your spirit and retrain your brain: Close your eyes, inhale and say so, exhale and say hum.
Rest. Close your eyes and stop holding onto drama, attachments and grudges. These qualities cause unnecessary tension and contraction, ultimately closing you off to new experiences. Knowing how and WHEN to let go keeps you open to life's infinite possibilities.
No more excuses! Yoga does not need you to touch your toes, it does not require you to invest your life’s savings in the trendiest yoga mat, and you do not have to block three hours out of your already busy schedule.
Rediscover that RIGHT NOW you have the time, you have the freedom, and you already have all you’ll ever need for a happy and peaceful existence. Namaste!
Image credit: Johnny Galvan/ Yogi: Judy Rukat