For many, the belief is that yoga is a luxury only the time-rich can afford. After all, each class is typically an hour long, and require slowing down enough mentally — a patience not many can offer in a typically hectic day. The good news is that apparently, all you need for a refreshed mind and body — every single day — is 20 minutes (and your favourite yoga mat).
Led by Natasha, who has been practising yoga since 2010 and is now an instructor at Pure Yoga Suntec City, the videos below are a specially-formulated sequence that gives you all the relaxation and body strengthening you need to start the perfect day with. The balanced flow series is energetic and fluid, and will help you connect to your breath as you work through the dynamic sequence of stretching and lengthening poses — just what you need to stand tall for the rest of the day.
While Natasha recommends squeezing this sequence in first thing in the morning, it’s also just as effective if you choose to go through with it during a lunch break or when you unwind after work.
Lie on your back. Inhale and hug the right knee into the chest. As you exhale, use the left hand to draw the right knee to the left side of the room. Stretch your right hand out in line with the shoulder and look to the right, making sure the entire right side of your spine is lifted off the mat. Inhale, drawing right knee back to the centre, and exhale as you finally release the right leg down. Repeat on the left side.
Happy Baby Pose
As you exhale, bend your knees into your belly, keeping them wider than the hips. Inhale and grip the outside edge of your feet with your hands. Breathe towards the back of your spine and allow the shoulders, back and tailbone to rest heavily on the mat. Remain in the pose for 5 full breaths.
Transition: Hug knees to chest and roll up to a seated position.
Inhale, lift hands up and twist to the right as you exhale. Keep lengthening the spine on each inhale and twist deeper on each exhale. Repeat on the left side.
Transition: Walk hands forward to lengthen your spine and fold.
Bring the knees hip width apart, with the feet directly behind the knees, and palms directly under the shoulders. Look down and allow the back to be flat, pressing the palms to drop the shoulders slightly away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold for one to three breaths.
Curl your toes under, and tilt your pelvis back so that your tailbone sticks up, allowing this movement to ripple from the tailbone and down the spine to the neck. Look up gently toward the ceiling without straining your neck.
Release the tops of your feet to the floor, tipping your pelvis forward and tucking your tailbone in. Let this action move up your spine slowly, giving it a naturally round shape. Draw your navel towards your spine and drop your head.
Repeat the cat and cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to five to ten breaths. Come back to a neutral spine after your final exhale.
Transition: Step back to a plank, and shift hips back into the Downward Facing Dog pose. Bend knees and slowly walk the feet forward, coming into a halfway lift. Exhale, bend your knees and go into the Ragdoll pose.
Grab opposite ends of your elbow and gently sway side to side. Roll the entire body up to stand slowly, with the head coming up last.
Interlace fingers and push the ceiling away with your palms as you inhale. Exhale and lean to the right, shifting hips to the left. Repeat on the left side.
Interlace fingers behind your back, squeezing your palm and drawing the knuckles down. Draw your shoulders back and down the spine, opening up the chest as you gaze up.
Modified Forward Fold
Keep fingers interlaced and inhale back to the centre. Fold forward on the exhale, reaching your hands to the front of the room.
Modified Vinyasa Fold
Release your palms down to the mat and step back to a plank, lowering your body all the way. Inhale and roll your shoulders back to a Baby Cobra pose. As you exhale, shift your hips back through Child Pose to Downward Facing Dog. Take five breaths, and repeat this three times.
Transition: On the last round, lower knees down to Tabletop from Downward Facing Dog.
Extend right hand forward and left leg back. Inhale and exhale to round the spine while drawing your elbow to the knee. Repeat five times.
Step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand and lower your left knee down to the ground, releasing the top of your left foot. Both arms should be to the left of the right leg. Ensuring that the weight is distributed evenly across both hips, sink your weight down while keeping the chin lifted and the chest open. Come down to your forearms for a bigger stretch.
Drawing the right knee back in, set palms down and step into a Three Legged Dog. Step your right foot between hands — keeping the back toes tucked — and lower hips down while shifting right hip back, straightening the front leg. Keep your spine straight.
Step back into Downward Dog and repeat on the left.
Transition: From Downward Dog, lower knees mat-width distance apart and sit back into your heels for Child’s pose.
Resting your buttocks on your heels, exhale and bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs, allowing your forehead to rest on the floor Your chest should rest between or on top of your thighs, depending on your flexibility. Keep your arms long and extended for the pose, holding for up to a minute or longer.
From Child’s pose, walk hands slowly to the right, stretching the left side of your body and drawing your breath to the right hip. Take five breaths and repeat on the left side.
After rolling up into the tabletop pose, come into the Melting Heart pose by walking hands forward and releasing the forehead down to the mat. Keep hips stacked in line with your knees, and take 10 breaths.
Transition: Inhale, look forward and come down to your belly.
Place forearms on the mat, with shoulders stacked over the elbows. Widen the chest as you draw your shoulders back and down the spine, and take five breaths. If you want to go deeper, come into a Seal pose by straightening both arms. Come back to the Sphinx pose if you feel a pinching sensation in your lower back.
Transition: Come back down to lie on your belly, and lengthen arms out to the side in line with your shoulders.
Shoulder opening stretch
Look to the left and place your right ear and cheek on the mat. Bend your left elbow to the side of your ribs. Bend your left knee and roll to the right side of the room, placing your left foot outside the right thigh. Repeat on the other side, completing 10 breaths on each side.
Transition: Roll back to your chest, bending both elbows to push yourself up and back into a Child’s pose.
Lie back, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, with the heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Keeping your thighs and inner feet parallel, clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the top of your shoulders. Lift your buttocks until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you keep your knees directly over the heels, push them forward and away from he hips, lengthening the tailbone towards the back of the knees.
Come into the Supine Twist and Happy Baby pose again.
From the Happy Baby pose, bring the soles of your feet to touch. Release your ankles to the floor while keeping knees facing out to the side. Relax your breath and bring the arms out the sides of your body, with the palms facing the ceiling.
End the session with a well-deserved Savasana.