You have every intention of getting to class then BAM, life gets in the way. How on earth do we find time for yoga when we have to do normal things like go to work, feed the cat and pretend to function like an adult?

Here’s the secret: you don’t have to be in a yoga class or even on a yoga mat to do yoga. In fact, yoga becomes all the more powerful when you blend it into your everyday routine. Little bites of yoga throughout the day relieve stress, keep tension at bay and help you stay mindful.

Start doing more yoga everyday by creating your own yoga habits. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change*, Charles Duhigg explains how we can turn behaviours into habits by creating cues and doing things at the same time and place each day. Once you’ve turned a behaviour into a habit you don’t have to work so hard to remember to do it. A child’s pose before bed will become as second nature as cleaning your teeth. Before you know it you’ve added 365 more child’s poses into your practice each year. Your legs, hips and back will be happy about this trust me.

Here are 6 yoga habit ideas to try out. Pick one or two to start off with, then add in another once they’ve stuck. Attempting too many new habits at the same time doesn’t tend to work.

1) Wake up hug

No better way to start the day than giving yourself a hug. Try a duvet version of pavana muktasana: draw the knees into the chest on an inhale and hug the arms around the knees. Stay for a few deep breaths, feeling the belly gently push against the thighs on the inhale.

Excellent pose for the lower back and for digestion – also known as wind-relieving pose 😉 For a variation you could try hugging one leg in at a time.

Don’t try this pose after abdominal surgery or with a hernia (doubt you’d want to anyway).

2) Shower shoulders

The shoulders are a common place to hold tension. Once you’re under the water, stand tall and slowly roll the shoulders in circles to ease out the shoulder joints. Take a few rotations forward and a few backwards, noticing how the shoulders feel. Does one side feel different to the other?

After a few circles in both directions, keep the spine tall and draw the chest open, as though the shoulder blades were slotting back towards the spine – a reminder for the rest of the day not to hunch. Hunching the shoulders puts strain on muscles and creates tension. It also usually means that the rest of the spine is rounded which can impact breathing and digestion, leaving you feeling sluggish as well as giving you back ache.

If you spot yourself hunching at the any point in the day, give the shoulders a few rolls to remind yourself to sit up. Sitting up straight also engages the core muscles (hello abs).

3) Calm commute

A train journey is the perfect time to tune into the breath. Leave the chaos behind by closing your eyes and turning your focus to the breath.

Notice what the breath is doing – is it shallow or uneven, slow or fast? Breathe steadily through the nose, noticing where you feel the breath move in the body.

Gently start to lengthen and deepen the breath – feeling the rise and fall at the belly. The belly rises on the inhale and then relaxes back towards the spine on the exhale. This deep, diaphragmatic breathing is ultra calming and creates a relaxation response in the body – i.e. stress hormones drop and happy hormones go up.

Stuck in traffic? If you’re in a stressful jam you could take a moment to practise the Ujjayi breath (eyes open and on the road please). This breathing technique slows the breath and allows you to tune into the sound of the breath as it rolls in and out.

4) Happy feet

Small movements while sitting can improve circulation in the feet and legs. Practise this one at your desk, or anywhere else you sit for extended periods.

Extend one leg away and point and flex the foot a few times before repeating with the other leg. Next, ground both feet to the floor so that the heels are directly under the knees. Slowly lift the heels off the floor coming onto the toes and then back down. Repeat for a few rounds. Finally, work the toes by lifting them up off the ground with the rest of the foot on the floor and then curling them under, repeating this for a few rounds.

These movements will help strengthen and stabilise the feet, ankles and lower legs – great for balance and improving your standing postures.

5) Stand like a mountain

Any time you find yourself standing in a queue or waiting for something, give yourself a minute to practise tadasana – the mountain pose. Often overlooked, this pose is the foundation of so many of our standing postures. Integrating it into your daily life will improve posture, meaning better energy, less back pain, better digestion and a stronger core.

Start by feeling the feet connected to the ground. You can have them together or slightly apart – whatever feels more comfortable. If they’re apart, draw an imaginary line right down the centre of both feet and make the lines parallel so that the toes aren’t turning in or out.

Lightly engages the legs, feeling a lift just above the knee caps. Stand tall with shoulders relaxed and rolled back towards the spine so the chest is open. Lengthen the tail bone towards the ground and bring the chin parallel to the floor. Take slow breaths through the nose. You can even close the eyes for a moment if you like.

6) Bed time balasana

Child’s pose or balasana is a wonderful pose to do before bed to release the back. You could try it on your bedroom floor or on your bed. Bring the knees a little wider apart than the hips and sit back on the heels. Slowly walk the hands forward and rest your head on your hands or on the floor/bed. It’s also nice to turn a pillow or two long ways, placed between the knees and lay the torso and head on top. Raising the upper body on pillows is a little kinder on the knees and can also be useful if the back or hips are tight. If it feels good you can rest here for a few minutes, breathing steadily through the nose.

Now you’ve got some ideas, you can come up with your own yoga rituals – how about a down dog whenever you’re waiting for the kettle to boil? A cat-cow sequence when the adverts come on tv?

Put your own sneaky yoga habit ideas in the comments below. C’mon, don’t be shy…


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