Yoga sequence for achy, knackered mums

The great thing about a home yoga practice is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be five minutes or forty five, strenuous or restorative, wildly creative or simple and repetitive - it all counts. It's all beneficial for your body and your mind. For a long time I procrastinated and didn't think I could do yoga at home because I didn't have a whole hour, or I was tired or hungry, or there was a corner of my room that suddenly needed hoovering. Now I am much better about "doing yoga" every day, but sometimes that yoga is ten restorative minutes (i.e. not moving and propped up with bolsters and blankets), or five minutes of meditation, and sometimes it's a full hour of strong movement which requires a nap to recover afterwards*. 

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For this short sequence you don't need anything at all, not even a yoga mat, though if you do that's great. You just need a soft place to sit/lie. If you have an injury go easy, and don't do anything that causes you pain or discomfort. These poses are safe to do if you're pregnant or you've just had a baby, but just take it easy and be even more mindful of moving slowly and carefully - sitting on a straight-backed chair rather than the floor can be more accessible if you're newly postnatal. And if you've experienced pubic symphysis disorder, keep your knees together (avoid sitting cross-legged, for example). 

*This is pretty rare these days tbh

Cat/cow

The world's go-to flow at the start of a yoga class - it's simple, it wakes up the spine and stretches the front body, it allows you to breathe slowly and time your breath with your movement. Bish bash bosh.

Come onto all fours, your hands roughly lined up with your shoulders and your knees with your hips. As you inhale, drop the belly and look gently upwards; as you exhale, round the spine and press down through the hands. Repeat as many times as you like.

Child's pose

Super calming on the nervous system, resting your head on the ground (or block or pillow) will quieten your mind and lengthen the muscles in your back. Your knees can be as wide as you need, or drawing gently together. Breathe in and out for five breaths, and for variation walk your hands out to the other side and rest there to open the side body (be sure to do the other side too). Hopefully you won't have Julia Donaldson's "Smartest Giant in Town" song playing on repeat in your head. Though if you didn't already, maybe you do now. Sorry.  

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Eagle arms (garudasana)

This one's great if you've done lots of feeding, carrying or stressing in the shoulder area. Come to sit either cross-legged or kneeling, whatever is most comfortable. Cross one arm over the other at the elbow; the back of your hands might meet or you may be able to cross your hands at the wrists too so the palms of your hands can connect. Raise your arms so your elbows until you feel a lovely stretch in between your shoulder blades. Breathe 10 breaths, and repeat on the other side.

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Half sun salutations

A simple flow of two in-out breaths and simple, glorious movement. (If you feel dizzy, take this extra slow or miss this one out). There's an older man who does this in my local park most mornings, I want to be like him when I'm grown up.

Stand tall with your shoulders softening down, away from your ears and your feet firmly planted on the ground, hip distance apart. Breathe in and reach up; breathe out and fold forward, breathe in and lift halfway with your fingers on your shins, and breathe out to fold forward again. Use an inhale to bring you back to standing.

Lunge against the wall

A variation on a crescent (high) lunge, this will feel great if you've been sitting down a lot. Stand with one foot forward, the other about a leg-length behind. Distance yourself from the wall so that you can press your hands against it whilst bending your front knee, making sure your knee is above your ankle and doesn't come in front of it. Come onto the ball of the back foot - if you can't feel a stretch through your front hip muscles and the back of the leg on the straight leg side, adjust your foot so it's a little further away. Press out through the heel for a few breaths, then swap sides. If it feels easy, take your hands away from the wall and stretch them upwards for a few breaths. If you feel wobbly, your horizontal stance might need to be a bit wider - i.e. take your left foot a bit further to the left and your right foot a bit further to the right.

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Seated side stretch (parvritta janu sirshana)

Sit with your legs wide apart (whatever feels "wide for you"), move your buttock flesh from under you so the bony bits of your sitting bones are connecting to the floor, and grow your spine upwards. Take your right arm alongside your right leg and stretch upwards with your left hand. Turn your chest slightly up towards the ceiling, breath in and out for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on the other side. 

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Lying down twist

Nearly done! Lie on your back and stretch your hands over your head; take your right wrist in your left hand and rest your arms behind your head. Move your head and torso over to the left until you feel a lovely stretch in your right side, then walk your feet over to the left too so you're in a banana-shape on the floor. Try not to think about the banana skin in the car that needs taking in to the bin. Repeat on the other side.

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Legs up the sofa 

In Sanskrit "legs up the wall pose" is viparita karani, but I'm not sure what sofa is in Sanskrit, so let's go with this. Sit sideways alongside the sofa to ensure you can shuffle your bum as near as possible, then, pressing down with your hands behind you, swing your legs up to the sofa so the back of your knees are supported. If you have an eye-bag or a bolster or heavy cushion to hug, this will make this even better - the weight will have a very relaxing effect on your nervous system. Stay here for as long as you can.