As a yoga teacher I am often telling my students that you can build a yoga practice on five minutes a day. With just five minutes of yoga a day, a few salutations in the morning or a couple of basic stretches you can start to gain the benefits, the physical ease and peace of mind that yoga can give. From my experience that will feel so good that soon your practice will grow of itself to ten, then fifteen, then twenty minutes a day and hey presto you have yourself a yoga practice. As easy as that. The key is just to start small and without any sense of expectation and to just let it happen. But if five minutes a day is a challenge, and I recognize it can be, start smaller -- start with a few scattered moments and see how it goes from there. Here’s how you can squeeze those moments in on a typical working day.
Yoga moment 1: While driving turn down the radio and focus on the breath. Just watch the inhalation and the exhalation for a few seconds. Nothing more. Afterwards turn the radio up and sing.
Yoga moment 2: While in the bathroom washing your hands watch the sensation of the hands. Be in the absolute moment and feel the water washing over the hands. Practice perfect awareness for just for a second then dry your hands and go back to work.
Yoga moments 3 and 4: Hold the back of your office chair and twist slowly to the right. Lift out of the abdomen and make sure the twist is coming from the base of the spine. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Yoga moment 5: Watch the reactions of your mind to a negative situation. Don’t get caught up in the emotions, just step back and watch the mind as it casts about looking for fuel for the fire. Watch how the emotional flames will die if you do not give them energy.
Yoga moment 6: At the end of the day place your buttocks against the wall and forward bend. Just hang. This can be done in high heels and abiya – no problem. Just rest there letting all the bad energy drain out. Stand up slowly, sigh, and go home feeling refreshed.
Yoga moment 7: While being with your children, friends or partner give them 100% of your attention. Be with them and listen to them totally. Don’t think of anything else. Try it for five full minutes.
Yoga moment 8: Enjoy your household chores. Appreciate them as acts of giving and pay attention to the details of completing them.
Yoga moment 9: Take a bath and relax. Feel the body grow heavy in the bath and watch the breath as it softens.
Yoga moment 10: Watch as you start to fall asleep. Watch and try to identify that very last moment between sleep and wakefulness.
These exercises are not just random practices but represent the very core of yoga, which more then anything else is about being in the moment and using the breath as a tool for calming and easing the mind. Like the five minute practice they may grow of themselves if you just let them be and allow them to take effect. If you start with yoga moments you may find that you wake up wanting yoga stretches and the process will continue. Just remember to take it as it comes and to take a yoga moment of acceptance if it comes slower then you wish. Good luck. Namaste.
(Previously publishhed in Women Today, Doha, Qatar)