Avoiding the Studio? This 20-Minute At-Home Yoga Flow Is the Next Best Thing

As governments around the world continue to issue stricter COVID-19 guidelines, either your yoga studio has shut down temporarily or you're practicing social distancing to stay safe. Whatever the case, odds are you're spending more time at home and being less active than usual.

Even with the kids around, you can still make time for a yoga break to recenter yourself.
Image Credit: chee gin tan/E+/GettyImages

Cabin fever coupled with coronavirus concerns may have you tied up in a ball of nervous knots. "Being cooped up creates an anxious energy and an urge to act as we feel like we have lost the freedom and control over our lives," says Brendon Abram, author of Teaching Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and founder of Get Yoga in Ontario, Canada.

Now more than ever is the time to find activities to keep you calm and centered. And an at-home yoga practice can help you do just that. It's true — doing yoga and breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety (and depression) and boost positive feelings in the short- and long-term, according to a November 2019 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.

"An active style of yoga that focuses on harnessing inner strength and expending excess energy can be exactly what we need to find equanimity in our current — and this is really important to remember — temporary circumstances," Abram says.

Get tips on how to stay healthy, safe and sane during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

20-Minute At-Home Yoga Flow

Prepare to feel calm and capable. This 20-minute flow sequence designed by Abram will help you release restless energy and reconnect to your zen.

Move 1: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-with apart. As you inhale, pull your navel in towards the spine and up toward the ribcage.
  2. Lift the heart and allow the shoulders to roll back and down. Imagine the inhalation carries fresh new energy to every part of your body. As you exhale, release energy through the base of your body into the ground below.
  3. Complete 8 rounds of breath, cycling energy through your body as you breathe.

Tip

Focus on creating inhalations that are as long and deep as comfortably possible, and exhalations that are as slow, steady and even as comfortably possible. If your attention wavers from your breath, patiently, but persistently, bring it back.

Move 2: Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

  1. Inhale, sweeping the arms out and up, and lengthen your entire body from the soles of your feet to the tips of your fingers.
  2. Gathering your energy, exhale and bend the knees as much as needed to keep the spine long while you hinge forward from the waist.
  3. Release your breath and energy as you bend forward.
  4. Reach your palms toward the floor on either side of your feet. Let your head hang.

Move 3: Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)

  1. From Forward Fold, inhale as you lift and lengthen your upper body, so that it's parallel with the floor (your upper body and legs should form a 90-degree angle).
  2. Maintain a straight spine and neutral neck and lift your ribcage. Allow your hands to rest lightly on the floor or somewhere along the length of your shins.

Move 4: Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

  1. From Half Lift, exhale as you fold forward, softening the knees.
  2. Place your hands on the mat and slide the right foot back until your knee grazes the ground and you feel a nice stretch in the right hip and thigh.
  3. Keep your hips low and level with each other and both sets of toes pointing straight forward. Press the right foot into the floor to keep that leg long and strong.

Move 5: High Lunge (Ashta Chandrasana)

  1. From Low Lunge, sweep your hands above your head as you inhale to lift your right knee off the floor into a high lunge. Your left knee should form a right angle.
  2. Roll your shoulders back and down to open the heart. Take a few breaths, using each exhalation to sink further into the pose.

Move 6: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

  1. From High Lunge, turn your right toes out, so they point to the side of the mat, and lower your right heel to the floor.
  2. Keep your stance long and ensure that your left knee is bent above, or slightly behind, the left ankle.
  3. Bring your arms to shoulder level, stretching them out, so they're parallel to the floor (the left hand should point to the front of the mat while the right points to the rear). Gaze out over your front left fingers.
  4. Open your hips and torso to the right side of the mat. Inhale, then lengthen through the left leg and lift your heart as you sweep your hands overhead.
  5. Exhale, releasing your arms back to shoulder height.
  6. Repeat this breathing pattern twice.

Move 6: Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

  1. From Warrior II, inhale, keeping your left knee bent, and slide your right fingers down your right leg as you extend the left fingers up and back towards the rear of the mat.
  2. Come into a slight backbend, tilt your head slightly and bring your gaze to your left hand.
  3. Keep your shoulders relaxed, lift your chest and lengthen through the waist.

Move 7: Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

  1. From Reverse Warrior, exhale and lower your left arm so your forearm rests on your left thigh.
  2. Reach your right fingers toward the ceiling as you extend your right arm overhead. Your right biceps should be over your right ear.
  3. Keeping your chest, hips and legs in one straight line, turn your head to look up at the ceiling.
  4. Inhale back to reverse warrior, then repeat two more times.

Move 8: Extended Triangle (Trikonasana)

  1. From Side Angle Pose, inhale and lengthen and straighten your left leg, sending your left fingers to the floor outside of your left foot and your right fingers toward the ceiling.
  2. Stack your shoulders, so the right is directly above the left.
  3. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the right, so your gaze lands on your right thumb.

Move 9: Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

  1. From Extended Triangle pose, exhale, bringing both hands down onto the front of the mat.
  2. Place your hands on the mat and slide the right foot back until your knee grazes the ground and you feel a nice stretch in the right hip and thigh.
  3. Keep your hips low and level with each other and both sets of toes pointing straight forward. Press the right foot into the floor to keep that leg long and strong.

Move 10: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

  1. From Low Lunge, inhale and step your left foot back — hip-width apart from your right foot — and place both hands on the mat.
  2. Keep your spine and arms long as you extend the tailbone back and up, lifting the sitting bones toward the ceiling.
  3. Push your thighs back and stretch your heels down toward the floor.
  4. Soften through your head and neck and breathe for eight breaths.

Perform Moves 1 through 10 again, this time on your opposite leg. Repeat the entire sequence once more on each side before moving onto Move 11.

Move 11: Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

  1. Start in Downward Facing Dog, balancing on your hands and feet with hips in the air.
  2. Slowly bend your left knee and bring the leg forward onto the mat, gently placing the knee behind your left wrist.
  3. Slide your right hip back as far as you can and untuck your toes, pressing into the top of your right foot.
  4. Make sure your left knee is positioned outside of your hip. Keep your hips square to the front. Ideally, your left shin should be parallel to the top edge of your mat.
  5. Walk your hands forward, fold your arms and rest your head in them.
  6. Hold this pose for 10 breaths, then repeat on the opposite leg.

Move 12: Child's Pose (Balasana)

  1. From Pigeon, press back into Downward Facing Dog, then lower your knees to the ground and sit back on your heels.
  2. With an exhale, bend forward and rest your torso between your thighs. Relax your tailbone toward your feet.
  3. Reach your arms far forward. Spread your fingers and press your palms into the floor. Rest your forehead on the floor.
  4. Hold the pose and take slow, deep breaths, 5 to 10 times.

Move 13: Half Seated Forward Fold (Ardha Paschimottanasana)

  1. From Child's pose come to a seated position. Extend and lengthen your right leg out to your side.
  2. Place the sole of your left foot on the inside of the right leg as high up the leg as comfortable. Allow the left knee to lower toward the floor.
  3. Inhale and lift your heart to lengthen your spine. Exhale and hinge forward from the waist as you lower the front of your torso toward the floor.
  4. Stay here for 8 rounds of breath.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Move 14: Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)

  1. From the Half Seated Forward Fold pose, bring the soles of your feet together and draw your heels in close to the base of your body, allowing your knees to lower toward the floor.
  2. Inhale and lift the heart to lengthen your spine. As you exhale, keep the spine long and hinge into a forward bend.
  3. Hold for 8 rounds of breath.

Move 15: Knees to Chest (Apanasana)

  1. Lie on your back with your legs together.
  2. Bend your right leg with an exhale, interlace your fingers around your shin and hug your knee into your chest. Inhale deeply.
  3. Lift your head with an exhale and touch your forehead or chin to your knee. Hold for a few seconds.
  4. Lower your head to the floor with an inhale. Continue hugging your knee and take 5 slow, deep breaths.
  5. Release, then switch sides.

Move 16: Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

  1. Lying on your back, place your feet flat on the floor and draw your heels as close to the base of your body as possible.
  2. On an exhalation, lower both knees to the left.
  3. Gaze toward the right and hold the pose for 8 slow, deep breaths.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Move 17: Corpse Pose (Savasana)

  1. Lie on your back and bring your feet wide, letting them flop out to the sides.
  2. Bring your arms several inches away from your torso, palms up.
  3. Make any minor adjustments needed so that you're completely comfortable.
  4. Close your eyes. Find stillness.
  5. Complete 8 rounds of 4:7:8 ratio breath. (Inhale for a count of 4, suspend for a count of 7 and exhale for a count of 8). After 8 rounds, release control of the breath and spend 3 to 4 minutes breathing naturally.
  6. Stay present and focus on your breath without trying to control it.

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