Fitness Magazine

Ways to Take a Yoga Break

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Beth

Ways to Take a Yoga Break

Rishi's Posture

“Let us suppose, for instance, that a letter has to be posted in a mailbox a hundred yards away. If the mouth of the mailbox is all we see in the mind’s eye, then the hundred strides we take toward it are wasted. But if we are on the Way and filled with the sense of all that this implies, then even this short walk, providing we maintain the right attitude and posture, can serve to renew us from the well of inner essence.” —Karlfried Graf von Durckheim  
I was reminded of this quote a few weeks ago during my weekly volunteer seva (selfless service). I record an hour-long program titled “For Your Health” at CRIS Radio, the talking newsstand for the blind and print challenged. It’s pretty neat. I’m given a pile of health-related articles, which I sort into categories: international, national, and local health news, living a healthy lifestyle, updates on a variety of health conditions, etc. Then I hit record and read.
One “how-to” article I read that day included a list of ways to keep healthy during the winter. It listed the usual: limiting sugar, drinking more water, getting enough rest, and, of course, exercise. I know all these things but it’s always good to have reminders and advice along the way for those times when we find ourselves super busy or in a temporary slump. Reading that article served as the reminder I needed as I slog my way through the annual post-holiday, gray sky, seasonal affective disorderly mid-winter blahs (yes, I know the technical term is seasonal affective disorder but it feels downright disorderly to me).
I’ve been applying that reminder along with Karlfried’s quote to adjust my yoga practice to better fit my current schedule, address my winter restlessness, and keep me aware and mindful. Rather than doing a long practice, I’ve been working to “maintain the right attitude and posture” as I take regular yoga mini-breaks. I’ve structured each break to take between 2 to 5 minutes, and depending on how many breaks I take I can end up with 30 – 45+ minutes of practice interspersed throughout the day. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.
When I wake up, I stretch in bed. There is so much you can do! (See Yoga You Can Do in Bed). I like to flow between Supine Mountain, Knee to Chest, and a luxurious Supine Spinal Twist. I often follow this by sitting silently for a moment or two of meditation—my choice is Ajapa Japa Stage 1, Part 1 (Kriya Yoga: A Contemporary View).
While waiting for meals to warm up on the stove or in the microwave, I may do a balance pose like Tree, a modified Downward Facing Dog to Upward Facing Dog flow with my hands on the counter, or take a slow mindful walk around the kitchen island. 
Standing in line at the grocery store on senior discount day can take a while. So that’s a perfect opportunity for me to do a breath practice (see Breath Practices for Balance) 
During my mid-afternoon energy crash, I do the Breath of Joy, which I wrote about in my last post (see Energy Up!) 
Remember that slow mindful walk around the kitchen island? That works on walks to get my mail, to get to my car, on the way to classes, and up and down any flight of stairs that presents itself during the day. 
At bedtime I’ll do a couple of things to help me drift off. From Crocodile pose (Makarasana), I roll over onto my back and do a short body scan, moving awareness through my body part by part (see Working with the Witness). Most times I get halfway through, and the next thing I know, it’s morning!
My absolute favorite yoga break is the Half Sun Salutation. It’s easily modified for a chair version. Depending upon how long I choose to hold each pose or how many repetitions I do, this break can easily take between 2–5 minutes.

Half Sun Salutation with Rishi's Posture

  1. Mountain Pose: Stand straight with your feet hips width apart. Relax your arms by your sides.
  2. Upward Salute: Inhale and raise both arms overhead. 
  3. Half Moon Pose: Exhale and bend to the right. Inhale to center. Exhale and bend to the left. Inhale to standing. 
  4. Standing Back Arch: Place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing down. Inhale, bend your knees, lift your chest, and arch back. Hold for a few breaths. Come up on an exhalation. 
  5. Forward Fold: Inhale and raise both arms overhead. Soften your knees, exhale, and come into your Forward Fold, placing your hands on thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, or the floor. 
  6. Standing Twist (Rishi’s Posture): Hold your Forward Fold and breathe slowly. Put your left hand on your left foot, knee, or thigh. Inhale and lift your right arm out to the side and overhead as you twist your upper body to the right. Exhale and lower your right arm. Repeat on the left side. 
  7. Upward Salute: From your Forward Fold, inhale and reach your arms forward, and with a straight or rounded back (I’m a straight back person) return to Upward Salute with both arms overhead.
  8. Mountain Pose: Exhale and lower your arms to your sides. Rest for a few breaths. 
Taking yoga breaks spreads the benefits of yoga throughout the day. If you’d like a few more ideas see Ram’s post (Yoga, Your Companion Through the Day. My practice may well change when spring arrives and I can feel the sun on my shoulders, but for now I’m taking it one day at a time and yoga breaks are working for me.
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