Yoga is a slow and rewarding journey. The more time you spend practicising yoga, the greater the benefits, but most of us either don’t have the time, energy or the motivation to keep at a practice. When you are short of time you need to take advantage of every little window of time that presents itself. Going for a yoga class or to the gym is an activity you need to plan away from your everyday life. Try incorporating yoga asanas into activities that you perform everyday. Here are some simple yoga asanas and stretches that you can do while sitting on your computer, while watching TV and just before you go to sleep. Most people will perform these three activities daily. Do the given asanas everyday and soon they will become as routine as the activities themselves.
Asanas for the Couch Potato
For most of us, time in front of the TV is a relaxing activity done at the end of the day. Your brain is in gear but your body is inactive. The point of the following asanas is to convert the sitting in front of the telly into something active and beneficial for the body.
- Sukhasana: Sukhasana, or easy pose, is a comfortable seated position. This pose open the hips, helps strengthen the lower back and lengthens the spine. Sit cross-legged on the floor. Cross the shins, not only the ankles. Place your hands behind your hips, press the fingertips into the ground and extend the trunk up. Reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine. Open the chest and take your shoulders back. Bring your hands on your knees. Relax the face, jaw and belly. Breathe deeply through the nose down into the belly. Hold as long as you feel comfortable.
- Vajrasana: Vajrasana, or seated hero pose, is the one pose you can safely do after a meal; in fact, it actually aids digestion.
Bend your legs at the knees and bring them under you. Sit on your heels. Slowly move your feet apart so they are beside the hips. Sit between your feet. This is generally difficult for beginners and puts too much strain on your knees. Fold a blanket and sit on it to relieve the knee strain. Sit in this position for as long as possible. Slowly increase the duration everyday, till you can sit comfortably for half an hour in this position.
Enough has been written about taking stretching breaks while working on the computer. Stretching is excellent for you. When you have been sitting in a particular position for a long time, you stretch unconsciously. It feels good and you feel refreshed. Try to do these asanas everyday in addition to your desk workout.
- Bharadvajasana: Bharadvajasana, or torso twist (on chair), works wonders for the spine and the abdominal organs. It relieves a lower backache and is therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sit sideways on your chair with the chair back to your right. Bring your knees together and keep your heels directly below your knees. Sit erect and exhale. Twist toward the back of the chair. Hold onto the sides of the back of the chair and lift your elbows up and out to the sides, as if you were pulling the back of the chair apart. Pull your chest up. Exhale as you rotate, but do not hold your breath. Look over your right shoulder. Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other side.
- Palming: You can do this exercise to relax your eyes and reduce the strain felt after staring at a computer screen for long. Rub your palms together to generate heat. Cover your closed eyes with your hands so your palms are over your eyelids and are cupping your eyes comfortably. Your fingers should overlap on your forehead. Take in the complete darkness. After about 20 seconds, uncover your eyes.
For further stretches while sitting on your computer, go to Yoga Stretches
Before you go to Sleep
Learning the art of relaxation is essential to your well-being. Try doing this asana every night when you go to bed. It will drain the stress from your body and will help you sleep faster. This is the time to calm your mind and completely relax your body.
Savasana: Savasana, or the corpse, this asana will release stress and tension in the muscle groups, calm the nerves and is said to cure insomnia.
Lie on your back, feet slightly apart, arms at your sides with palms facing upwards. Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Imagine your body to be a heavy weight and feel it sink into the bed. Focus on specific parts of your body and consciously relax every part. Start with your feet, imagine the muscles and skin relaxing, letting go and slowly melting into the bed. From your feet, move on to your calves, thighs and so on up to your face and head. Then simply breathe and relax. Stay in the pose for at least five to 10 minutes. You may find yourself drifting off to sleep. Try to extend the time to about 15 minutes before changing your position in bed.
Do not overdo it. Listen to your body. Stop when you experience any pain. The first day, do the poses for a few seconds. Keep increasing the duration till you can sustain the pose without feeling any strain. Make it a point to do the asanas everyday and you’ll soon find yourself not slouching in front of the TV but sitting erect on the floor in Sukhasana. Do not do these asanas if you have a medical condition like weak knees or suffer from high blood pressure.