I don't always have a ton of time to fit in a full hour of yoga every day or even a half-hour - but lately, I've been committing to doing just 10-15 minutes a day in the morning before the kids wake up. I've been feeling great results - in general, I feel more energetic and peaceful.
If I have time throughout the day, I try to do additional 10-15 minute sessions when my baby naps and sometimes after the kids go to bed. It's a reasonable goal to fit into my busy schedule and still reap some great benefits from yoga every day.
These quick sessions, along with a 30-minute stroller walk with the dog each day are my entire workout plan right now, so I try to make sure I'm building strength in my yoga sessions and walking at a fast pace for my daily walks.
For each 10-15 minute yoga session, I focus on one area: lower body, core or upper body. That way, in my limited time I can still "burn out" one major body part in one session. For me, this feels more effective.
I also repeat my stretching / restorative poses as a strategy for maximum increase in flexibility in just a short session. My philosophy about yoga is that it's better to practice daily, even if it's for just a short while than it is to go once a week to an hour-long class.
Not only are these quickie sessions great for a quick workout and stretch, but I also love the peace and quiet of taking a little time just for myself in the morning to meditate and do something for me. Doing yoga first thing in the morning helps me to hold onto that quiet and peaceful feeling throughout my crazy day.
Today, I did lower body, and here's my 15-minute lower body sequence. This sequence includes a really challenging twisted chair pose and a deep stretch in seated pigeon which will really challenge and stretch out your entire lower body.
Twisted Chair Pose
To do twisted chair pose, begin in chair pose and then bring your hands to heart center in prayer, then gently twist the spine to rest your left elbow outside the right quadricep, twisting your torso to face to the right while your knees and hips stay squared off to the front of the mat. You have the option to open and extend your arms here if you like, similar to triangle pose. For a real challenge here, try lifting the left heel to balance on the left toe, or lift the left foot entirely off the ground. I can only lift to the toe right now, this is tough! I will be sore tonight for sure.
Seated Pigeon Pose
This sequence also includes a challenging stretch which I refer to as seated pigeon and quadricep stretch. To do this stretch, begin in your standard pigeon pose with either elbows or forehead on the earth. Press your hands into the earth to help bring your torso upright to a seated position without moving your legs out of the pose. Then, gently bend the back, extended leg and see if you can grab your foot with the hand on the same side while using the opposite hand for support if needed. If you can, try a gentle backbend while holding this stretch.
Note: I held each pose for 10 breaths for more of a hatha yoga session. A vinyasa session would have required more poses and taken more time to plan, which I don't have right now! If you prefer vinyasa style, you can adapt this sequence by moving through the poses more quickly, and repeating it two to three times.
15-Minute Lower-Body Yoga Burn
1. Mountain Pose
2. Circle arms up and arch back, gaze towards the sky
3. Swan dive down, forward fold
4. Chair pose
5. Forward fold
6. Twisted chair pose, lift one foot to toe
7. Forward fold
8. Twisted chair pose, lift one foot to toe (opposite site)
9. Forward fold
10. Down dog
11. Pigeon pose
12. Seated pigeon pose with backbend and quadricep stretch
13. Down dog
12. Pigeon pose (opposite side)
13. Seated pigeon pose with backbend and quadricep stretch
14. Corpse pose
14. Seated meditation
This sequence can easily be made into a 20 or even 30-minute sequence by holding the poses for longer than 10 breaths. I will post more 15-minute sessions as I make them up!