The Top 5 Daily Moments to Practice Incidental Yoga
Sure, you've got your main yoga practice down pat, but what about your incidental yoga practice? Getting in a bit of incidental yoga on the side is NOT the same thing as your main yoga practice (and if it is, boy do we need to talk). However, practicing incidental yoga is an opportunity to take a mundane task like standing in line at Whole Foods and breathe some life into it, so to speak.
Here are the top five mundane tasks we perform daily coupled with a yoga posture or meditation to make them more bearable.
5. Waiting on hold.
After six hours on hold with your health insurance company, and before your head explodes, separate your feet hips distance apart, fold at the hips and do a forward bend. Place your iPhone between your feet (on speaker, of course) and clasp your elbows with your hands and take a few deep breath in Uttanasana (forward fold) while waiting to be transferred, yet again. You'll get a great hamstring and low back stretch and it's damn near impossible to be angry while in this gentle inversion that's great for calming an agitated mind.
4. Stuck in traffic.
Iʼll admit it, I've got a problem: I can get hostage-taking mad when I'm stuck in traffic. I have a fast car and like Sammy Hagar. I canʼt drive 55 mph. Itʼs not that I have road rage, I just know where Iʼm going and I like to get there quick. Can I get an amen? If traffic is as mundane for you as it is for me, lets transform it into a meditation opportunity called the Counting Meditation. Here's how it's done:
Before blowing a gasket, take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. After 10 deep breaths, on your next inhale through the nose silently think the number 50, on the exhale through the nose, think 49. Inhale 48, exhale 47 and so on to zero. Inhale on the even numbers, exhale on the odd ones. You get the point. Before you know it, the mind calms and your nerves soothe and you've reached your destination safe and sound.
3. Returning emails.
Your inbox is so full you might even reach that impossible-to-reach Gmail limit. You have a thousand emails to return, and only 15 minutes to get it done. Great. Go to a wall and sit down with your right hip flush against the baseboard, swing your legs up the wall toward the ceiling and lie on your back with your bottom against the baseboard. Break out your tablet and go to work with your legs elevated higher then your heart. Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) is a great inversion to take the pressure off your legs and back. This wall inversion is great for swollen legs, ankles, varicose veins, spider veins or just flat-out-tired, worn-out legs. Fifteen minutes hanging on the wall and taking the gravity off your legs will do wonders for your mental and physical recovery and is something that will put a spring back in your step.
2. Standing in line.
Whether it's at the DMV or Starbucks, waiting in line sucks. Okay. Waiting in line at the DMV is especially bad. Sure, your license has been expired for three months, but you're willing to risk it just to avoid the DMV. Well, when you finally find yourself in DMV hell, there's only one thing left to do: hip stretch!
Standing Pigeon is a great hip opener that can be done anywhere. With your feet together, use both hands and draw the right knee into the chest, holding that, bend your left knee about 20 degrees while keeping the left foot flat on the floor. Bend your right knee and cross your right ankle above the left knee where the thigh muscle begins, thus making a figure four with your legs. Holding your right dorsal flexed right foot in place with your left hand, then support your upper body by placing your right hand on your right knee as you start to bend your left knee toward a 50-degree squat or until you feel an amazing stretch in your rights hip and flank. Hold the posture for 45 seconds or more and then repeat on the left side. This pose will stretch the hips and release back tension all while making you feel very relaxed for your next driver's license photo. And we all know how key that is.
1. Sitting for too long.
This applies everywhere: in the office, on planes, trains and automobiles, at restaurants. The verdict is in, people: sitting is literally killing us. It adversely affects the neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings and everything else. Luckily, I have just the antidote: the Puppy Dog Posture.
The Puppy Dog is the baby down dog of the yoga world and it is easy to do anywhere. If you've ever witnessed a cop arrest someone (yes, even on TV) youʼve seen a variation of the Puppy Dog pose. Depending on your height, stand about two to four feet away from a wall and face it. Lean forward and place your flat palms agains the wall slightly higher than your head. Then, start to lean into the wall bringing your forehead toward the wall until you find the perfect stretch in the shoulders and upper back. If you want a deeper stretch, draw your hips back and crawl your hands higher up the wall and sink your chest toward the wall as well as your forehead. Pressing back though your heel will also give you a sweet hamstring stretch. Hold this pose for 10 to 15 breaths and remember that you have the right to remain free and at ease and anything you do for yourself can and will be held in your favor.
Of course, keep in mind that as you practice your new incidental yoga poses, people may give you the once over. But hey, as yogis, we don't much care, do we?