It’s been a long day and you deserve 15 minutes of complete “Me Time” to enable you to let go of anything that came up and is ‘sticking’ to your mind or body.
Grab 2 or 3 blocks or pillows, take a seat on your mat and try this 15-minute yoga sequence to unwind your day and prepare your body and mind for a relaxing evening.
Make a list of all the things that you need to empty off of your plate for the evening; anything that upset you, in any way, or is nagging at the edges of your to-do list and keeping you from relaxing.
Slide that list under your mat knowing it’s there for you to come back to — if and when you choose.
Come to a comfortable seat on your mat and close your eyes to breathe deeply for a few minutes. Try to focus only on your breath and on sitting up tall. If the thoughts from your day or your list start creeping back in, breath louder or rock slightly from side to side to bring yourself back into THIS moment.
When you’re ready, lift your arms up and over your head and gently stretch over to one side and then the other. Repeat this a few times, gently going deeper with each rep — perhaps even bringing the right hand to the mat as you arch toward the right and vice versa.
Bring your feet together loosely, and let your knees fall out to the sides on blocks or pillows. Allow your upper body to fold over your legs so that your head hangs heavy or rests on another prop.
Stay here for 10-30 breaths, letting every last thought drip out of your head into a puddle between your legs. Let them all go.
Uncurl back up to a seated position and take a baby twist to the left and right with your hands at heart center.
Next, stretch your right leg out on the mat drawing your left heel in to your right inner thigh so that you are in a seated Tree Pose. Turn to face your right knee, engage that thigh and flex that foot. Let your fingers tip-toe down toward your shin or foot and reach your chest plate toward your ankle to feel a hamstring stretch.
Try to keep your spine as lengthened as your body will allow (trying not to round the back body) to entice a deeper leg stretch. Repeat on the left side.
Make your way to a table top position on your hands and knees, and practice a few rounds of arching and rocking in all directions to open your spine, shoulders and hips.
Listen to each joint articulation as you move slowly through the different shapes without pausing. Try to align your breath with the movement in a natural pattern. Allow your body to move in the direction that sings to you without questioning it.
With your hands on blocks, step your right foot to the top of your mat with the ankle slightly ahead of the knee. Lean your weight forward into your hips and hands so that you are in a low lunge with your back knee on the mat.
You should be able to see your front toes and keep your front heel flat on the floor to know that your knee is safe. Relax the weight of your head and rest here for 20 breaths. This is a fiery pose so don’t be alarmed if it feels challenging or brings up frustrations, heat or impatience in your mind or body. Try to breathe through it all.
Just stay there until you complete your 20 breaths and allow all of it to be left behind on your mat. If the emotion or sensation becomes too intense, simply straighten out your back and stretch up to the sky for a few breaths maintaining the lunge.
When complete, gently slide your weight back and stretch out in Downward Facing Dog before repeating on the second side.
From seated bring your hands to hold behind your thighs and with bent knees lift your shin bones up until they are parallel with your mat so that you are balancing on your sit bones. Hold here for 5 breaths or straighten out the legs.
Either way, make sure your belly is pulled in to support your low back, your feet are active to hold some of the weight of your legs, and your chest is pressing up to the sky to lengthen your spine.
Rest, and then repeat twice more.
Bring your upper body down to a reclined position and bend your knees, with both feet on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and flex the foot deeply (keep it flexed throughout to protect your knee and ankle ligaments). Lift the left foot off the floor and as you draw your left thigh into your chest, simultaneously press your right thigh away from you to access that hip deeply.
Allow your head and shoulders to rest on your pillow or the ground and perhaps even rock side-to-side to juice up the pose and soften all the muscles in your back. Repeat on the second side.
From Reclined Pigeon, press both feet onto the floor and lift your hips up to hold Bridge pose (pictured) squeezing both your shoulders and your thighs into the midline.
After 5 breaths you can chose to:
a) Slide a pillow under your sacrum (and bum) to support your back while your legs float straight up to the ceiling or bend into your chest.
b) Take Shoulderstand using your hands on your middle or upper back to help lift you into the inversion, or
c) Use your Forearm Headstand by rocking up to seated from Bridge and placing your forearms at the top of your mat with your fingers interlaced. Keep the weight in your forearms as you bring your knees into your chest and gradually extend your feet up to the ceiling with active toes and thighs.
Hold your chosen inversion for 5-10 breaths to reset your cardiovascular system, bring fresh blood to your brain and change your overall perspective about the day behind you, and the evening ahead of you.
Find Child’s Pose and turn your attention inward for an entire minute (15 breaths) or more.
At this point, begin to rock your forehead on the mat to release your neck, simultaneously igniting the pressure point between your eyebrows that opens the mind, releases sinus pressure and calms the body.
Rock your hips side to side to gently massage them and stretch the lumbar region of your spine. Walk your hands to the right for 3 breaths and then to the left.
When you’re ready, uncurl gently to a seated position.
Seal Your Practice
Extend your arms up and over your head bringing the palms together and pressing your thumb to meet your two middle fingers in Apana, our mudra for invoking a better future.
Exhale to slide that mudra to your knees and rest there until you are ready to venture off into your evening.