Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Getting Back Into It Practice

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

Ugh. I spent the last 3 weeks of school doing almost zero physical activity. Well, almost zero enjoyable physical activity. Among the more sedentary tasks of project writing (oh, rubrics, how I love you when it’s time to grade! but designing you on the front end kind of sucks sour monkey balls) and grading, I got to stay late wrangling students on… I’ve lost count of how many occasions. And pack up my classroom. And clean out my car — so that I could fit the items I was taking out of my classroom into it.

Which left me with very little time and energy for an asana practice — and when I did (only on the weekends), it was always a gentle, restorative, and/or yin sequence. Probably just what I needed at the time, but it does mean that my strength, stamina, and cardiovascular capacity have waned. I wanted to get those qualities back, at least to the point where I’d known them before, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo it or hurt myself in the process.

So I thought about an asana sequence where it would be relatively easy to add on. This would let me start out with a Day 1 sequence that I knew I could safely manage — even if I was actually underestimating and underworking — and build up gradually from there. Thought I’d share here so people could use the sequence — or the idea of such a sequence, even if the particular poses I chose aren’t right for you — as they see fit.

Surya Namaskar sculpture at IGIA T3
[Surya Namaskar sculpture at IGIA T3 -- By Wiki-uk (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Disclaimer: This is coming from someone with a regular asana practice who took a 3 week hiatus due to being busy. If you’re new to yoga, if you took a substantially longer break, and/or if you were ill or injured during that time — it may be a good idea to treat those as complicating factors and to adjust accordingly.

Warm UpIf this section is the only one you can do, it’s still a great place to start. Build from there.

  • Child’s pose, 3 breaths.
  • Kneeling vinyasa (child’s pose –> kneeling plank –> lower down –> lift to cobra –> lower down –> all fours –> child’s pose), 3 repetitions, maybe more if 3 doesn’t do it for your spine.
  • Twisted child’s pose — I like 3 breaths on each side but doing each side twice.
  • Child’s pose for a breath or two.
  • Down dog, 3 breaths.

“Stretchy” Sun SalutesI include these this way because for me, they’re still primarily about bringing my body through its full range of motion rather than building up a whole lot of strength. But that’s going to be different for different people.

  • Sun Salutation C, starting with 1 round, working up toward 3 rounds (where a “round” involves both sides).

“Strengthening” Sun SalutesWith whatever modifications work for you.

  • Sun Salutation A, starting with 1 round, working up toward 5 rounds.
  • Sun Salutation B, starting with 1 round, working up toward 5 rounds.

Core WorkFront and back.

  • Forearm plank: 3 repetitions of 5 breaths each (or less if you want, but I knew I could comfortably manage this), building to 3 repetitions of 12 breaths each (a convenient marker for me because my 12 breaths is roughly equivalent to 1 minute). Rest in child’s pose between repetitions.
  • Bridge and/or wheel and/or the backbend sequence of your choice: 3 repetitions of 5 breaths each (or less if you want), building to 3 repetitions of 12 breaths each. Rest in constructive rest between repetitions. (Also, just for clarity, my back will probably always want bridge pose on at least the first repetition. So 3 rounds of wheel is not something I’m working toward here.)

Floor WorkGiven that I generally end the core sequence in constructive rest, I’m perfectly happy for my floor work to be all supine. This is the winding down part of the practice, not the strength- or stamina-building part.

  • Legs up the wall — except I do mine with a block (okay, a book) in the middle of the room — held for about a minute, maybe more.
  • Lying spinal twist, legs any style, for a minute or so on each side.
  • Happy baby — though I am a fan of straightening my legs for at least part of the time — for one to two minutes.
  • Savasana.

While I’ve been building on this sequence for most of the days I’ve been practicing recently, this hasn’t been the sum total of my practices. I’ve added gentle practices where my body has wanted them or where I’ve been pressed for yoga-convenient time. And I’ve gone to class when I wanted, just for the sake of variety.

Because yes, for the length of practice that it is, it’s rather a lot of repetitions of a few poses (or, in the case of sun salutations, sequences). Over the long run, I’d get pretty bored if this was all I did. But for right now, it’s a good tool to help remind me that strength doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

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