It might be that the people who could benefit most from a consistent yoga practice are precisely the people who feel too rushed to ever have time for it. But if carving out time is the only thing stopping you from cultivating a strong yoga practice, think again. Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene wants you to know that you can practice yoga in as little as 10 minutes, and if you use the best yoga poses for a 10-minute practice, the benefits can be immense.
Between getting to work on time and managing your own emotions and stress, carving out the emotional energy to practice yoga can seem intimidating. And, it’s easy to think that yoga is something you can only practice with a certain body type or physical abilities. But if you’ve got even a little time and an openness to the ways that yoga can help your body through stress and trauma, Mishler says that you’re already well on your way.
“Give thanks for this short time with yourself,” Mishler tells Bustle, even if you only have five minutes. Because your practice will start, always, with your breath. And since breathing is something you’re doing constantly anyway, it’s something you can use to transition into your practice, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
If you’ve got 10 minutes of time to yourself, Mishler suggests enjoying four rounds of sun salutations. By guiding each successive movement of your sun salutations with an inhale or an exhale, all through your nose to reduce the likelihood of hyperventilation, you’ll be using those 10 minutes to “tune into your breath” and bring yourself into your body, Mishler says.
And if you’ve got a little more time, closer to 20 minutes for your yoga practice, then Mishler suggests taking some time to sit quietly first. “Start on the ground and tune in with a little quiet sit,” she tells Bustle. “Bring your awareness to your breath. Then start moving in a way that feels good on the floor. From there, work your way to standing and begin your flow.”
But if you haven’t got 20 minutes, or even 10, there’s no need to panic. You can still build a beautiful practice for yourself. “If you only have 5 minutes for your practice,” Mishler says, “I suggest finding some spinal flexion in cat-cow and syncing that up with your breath.” Offering the cat-cow pose as something that can bring you in closer touch with your entire body, Mishler suggests that you “create a few audible breaths” as you reach your spine toward the ground and then toward the sky.
And lest you think that only a few minutes can’t possibly do anything to boost your mood or impact your body, science suggests otherwise. According to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, just three, 15-minute yoga sessions surrounding participants’ gynecologic surgeries significantly reduced pain and distress associated with the surgery.
And Mishler says that even though it’s easy to strive for someone else’s version of perfection, getting onto your mat is the most important thing you can do in your practice. “Remember, a little goes a long way!” she tells Bustle. “You don’t need the perfect set up, the perfect energy, outfit, or timeframe. The hardest part is showing up. If you can get to your mat, the rest will unfold.”
So no matter how much time you’ve got, remember that the point is to show up for yourself, and no one else. “The breath always comes first,” Mishler tells Bustle. “Remember this and you will be equipped to restore balance.” Because restoring that balance, or even perhaps creating it for the first time, is what you get on the mat for.