Yoga offers many poses but when practiced regularly together, the combination offers full body benefits. So even if you don’t have time to do an entire yoga class, view suggestions below for the top 10 yoga poses that can be completed in as little as 20 minutes. These have been selected in an effort to touch on all the major muscle groups and effectively massage the digestive and respiratory systems. It’s important to note that the order of the following poses isn’t important. Poses 1-4 can be practiced before or after the Sun Salutation. A Sun Salutation, however, typically follows the same basic sequence and is used to evoke our energy centers and warm the body.
Take up to 20 minutes for poses 1-4, build up energy “highs”, attempt to close eyes and focus on the warmth you are creating in your body.
1.) Spinal Flex Pose – sit with legs crossed, legs apart or soles together in an easy seated pose. Gently relax arms onto lap and touch shins or feet with hands. Inhale, lift chest forward and up. Then begin to round shoulders and drop chin forward on the exhale. Start slowly and begin to increase pace and breath.
2.) Moving Cat Cow – begin on all four’s with a neutral spine; shoulders stacked over wrists, hips stacked over knees. Inhale and create space in the spine and look gently forward, keep shoulders down and away from ear lobes. Exhale and gently round the middle of the spine tucking the chin gently. Begin slowly and then create a rhythm to gently flow by matching movement to the breath.
3.) Chair Flow – begin in Mountain pose, standing with feet hip width apart. Inhale bringing arms overhead and exhale as you sit down, as if onto a chair. Repeat and match the inhale to the upward movement and exhale to the sitting movement. Create a flow between body and breath.
4.) Downward Facing Dog – Relax in Childs pose and extend arms overhead creating space from tailbone to fingertips. Gently plant your fingers and toes into mat, lift hips high to the sky and gently bow the head between the arms. A critical shift occurs as you bow so that eyes are looking towards the big toes. Take any pressure off the neck by relaxing head down. Breathe deeply for 3-4 breaths and bend knees to rest in Childs pose once more. Repeat. Build stamina in order to hold Downward facing dog for several deep breaths. Hold for up to 1 minute at a time.
5-10.) A Sun Salutation series practiced in the morning increases energy and helps you to “face the day!” If there is one series of poses you can do during the day, a Sun Salutation series is it; including the last five of the top ten yoga poses which are: 5.) Upward Salute, 6.) Forward Bend, 7.) Lunge, 8.) Plank pose, 9.) Upward Facing Dog pose and 10.) Mountain pose. Read step by step directions on how to do a Sun Salutation.
Begin in Standing Mountain Pose.
1-2: Upward Salute (backbend optional) – inhale
3: Forward Bend – exhale
4-5: Lunge to Plank – inhale
6-7: Upward Facing Dog – exhale
8: Downward Facing Dog – inhale
9-10: Forward Lunge into Forward Bend – exhale
11-1: Upward Salute (backbend optional) – inhale
Repeat on opposite side. One Sun Salutation is complete when both sides are complete. Start with one to two salutations and build up to 108 during the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter equinox’s.
Photo source: RadianceYoga.net