If you're like me, your yoga practice and it's consistency move in waves. I practice yoga multiple times every week usually. That said, some weeks I make it to class and my mat five times, and on other weeks, it's closer to two. It is important to remember, on days when we don't create the time for a full hour-long practice, there are great benefits for fitting in even a single pose into your day, even for 1-minute or less.
So which poses will give you your best bang for your buck in terms of time investment and a return of benefits?
Here are the best five that will reset your being, body, and mood in a matter of moments if you're pressed for time:
1. Paschimotanasana 2. Seated Twist 3. Salabasana 4. Shoulderstand 5. Headstand (or handstand)
Poses in more detail & their benefits: 1. Paschimotanasana : The best of the best. This is the most grounding posture in all of yoga. It opens everything on the backside of your body, stimulates mulhdara charka, our energy center of groundedness, stability, and foundation. This energy center is similar to the foundation of your house. If it's not in balance, the rest of the house will not feel stable. 1-3 minutes holding and breathing in this powerful shape can also heal your spine, neck, hips, and legs. It's also an antidote to feelings of overhwhelm and anxiety, making it ideal for those who only have time for one particular pose in a given day. And it makes you look inwards.
2. Ardha Matsyendrana : Twisting is medicine for the inner organs and entire spine. This is especially great if you have time for one yoga pose because you've overindulged. The stimulation of fresh blood to the liver and organs make it particularly detoxifying. This posture is also grounding, rebalancing for the hips, and opening for the heart.
3. Salabasana : If you drive a car, text on a phone, or work at a computer, this is the best pose to find balance from the consistency of hunching forward that all three of the mentioned actions have. This shape brings a more confident posture to your shoulders, and the overall way we carry ourselves, opening our hearts in a proud, everyday shape, instead of a more closed and timid expression.
4. Shoulderstand : Putting your legs above your head, hips, and heart hold tremendous benefits physcially, mentally, and emotionally. Shoulderstand boosts cognitive functions such as memory. It is also an effective a mood booster and remedy for anxiety or depression, a stimulation of the circulatory system, and a flush to the thyroid, and immune system strengthener. It also promotes youthfulness, balances the body's hormone system, and is strengthening to the shoulder region. And I could keep going. If you're going to do one pose, inversions are golden in terms of maximizing benefits for a short time investment.
Shoulderstand in particular is unique in that it's cooling to the nervous system, which makes it even better in the evening before bed. It's also connected to visshudha chakra, the throat evenrgy center in the body. A balanced throat chakra makes us more confident to be honest, powerful in our words, and creative.
5. Headstand (or handstand) : The inversion benefits listed in Shoulderstand apply to these postures as well. These two poses are largely interchangeable in their benefits, although more shoulder and upper body strength come from handstand over time. Since I didn't get to all of them in detail for Shoulderstand, I'll add more benefits of inverting. Perhaps the most vain and important benefit, they reduce wrinkles in the face. These shapes are the yogic fountain of youth. These shapes are also a blessing on our organs. The kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs all receive considerable amounts of love from having the flow of gravity reversed on them and giving them a flush or sorts. On an energetic level, headstand and handstand open sahasrara chakra, at the crown of the head. This is our most spiritual energy center in the body. The place where we connect to the magic that connects us all.
Of course, our bodies love change. I recommend making it to your mat as often as feels ideal for you. That said, do not underestimate the power of taking a moment to find time for one of these postures with some wonderful, healthy, breaths to accompany them on days you cannot fit a full practice in. These five have the power to from a stressful day to a happy one. Give them a try, mix them up, and make them work for your body, mind, and heart.