No time to make it to the studio for a 90-minute yoga class? A little goes a long way, so even if you throw in five minutes every day, you're sure to notice a difference within a week. These five poses focus on the arms and upper back, and because you hold each one for one minute (twice as long as you normally would in class), taxing your muscles in such a way will make you feel that warm burn we all love that lets us know we're really working.
- From Downward Facing Dog, inhale to spread your fingers wide and exhale to lower your forearms to the mat. Check to make sure you're creating a straight line between your elbows and middle fingers.
- Press your shoulders back, and either gaze between the palms or relax your head between your arms, gazing at the navel. Hold for one minute (about 10 to 12 deep breaths).
- Begin in a Wide Squat. Place your palms firmly on the ground in front of you. Spread the fingers wide, pressing into your fingertips to release any pressure in your wrists.
- Straighten your legs slightly, and place your knees as high up onto your triceps as possible, toward your armpits.
- Shift weight forward into your hands, leaning the weight of your knees into the backs of your arms. Inhale and lift one foot off the ground and then the other, gazing at the ground slightly ahead of you. If you can bring your toes together, you'll feel more compact and it'll be easier to balance. Squeeze your knees together slightly and pull your belly button in toward your spine to give you a sense of lightness.
- Try to hold for the full minute, but if you can't, take breaks if you need to. Here are some helpful tips for Crow pose from Tara Stiles.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you. Place your palms behind your hips about six to eight inches away, with your fingers pointing toward your toes.
- As you inhale, press into your hands and feet firmly, lifting your hips into the air. Lift them as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Slowly release your head back, looking behind you and opening through your throat.
- Stay here for one minute, then exhale to lower your hips back to the floor.
- Come back into Down Dog, and step both feet together so your big toes are touching. Move your right hand six or so inches to the left so it's at the center of your mat.
- Inhale to roll over to your right side, and plant your right heel down so you are balancing on the outside edge of your right foot. Stack the left foot on top of the right with both feet flexed.
- Reach your left arm above you, and gaze up at your palm. Stay here for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the left side for another 30.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground, heels as close as possible to your tush.
- Bend your elbows, and place your palms flat on the ground above your shoulders, fingertips facing your feet.
- Inhale, press into your palms, and lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Try to walk your hands and feet a little closer together.
- After a full minute of deep breathing, lower the hips, head, and shoulders back to the ground. Hug your knees into your chest to release your lower back and relax in Happy Baby.