Some days, getting on your yoga mat is the last thing you feel like doing. Lacking motivation/energy is a huge reason most of us avoid our yoga practice when we're stressed or overwhelmed. Unfortunately, these are usually the times where we need our yoga practice the most. There has never been a time where I've forced myself to get on my mat and ended the sequence wishing I hadn't done it. Practicing yoga brings life and energy back into the body and calms the mind.
There are many schools of thought in yoga. One of the most (arguably one of the first) ancient yoga practices is Ashtanga Yoga, founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanaga (pronounced ash-tawn-gah) yoga is a bit different than your traditional vinyasa class because the series of postures is predetermined and practiced the same each time. While the Primary Series is most traditionally practiced, the sequence takes about an hour and a half. On a day where your energy is low and you're feeling less than motivated to practice, Pattabhi Jois recommends what he calls "The Daily Minimum". The Daily Minimum takes about 15 minutes and is a great practice for the days when you're experiencing resistance.
The Daily Minimum
- Three Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) A's
- Three Surya Namaskara B's
- Three Closing Postures
If you aren't sure where to begin, refer to this Primary Series chart to ensure you've got it down. Remember to move with the breath: the transition in and out of each pose in Surya Namaskar is done along with a proper inhale and exhale. For example: Inhale to raise your arms up, Exhale to fold forward. Inhale halfway up, Exhale back down into your fold. Follow this breath pattern throughout each salutation.
If Ashtanga yoga isn't your thing, have no fear. One of my favorite things about yoga is its flexibility (pun intended) and its ability to ebb and flow with your needs as they change. Even on days when you're feeling resistance, you can get on your mat and listen to your body even for just 10 minutes. You won't regret it and your mind + body will both benefit.
Personalizing Your Own Daily Minimum
Start with a couple basic Sun Salutations. A sun salutation uses 90% of the muscles in your body. A great warmup from head to toe.
Pick 2 or 3 of your favorite standing poses. Stay in each pose for 4-5 full, deep breaths.
Choose 2 seated hip opening postures. Stay in each pose for 4-5 full, deep breaths.
Briefly practice a seated meditation or a short savasana. Try to acknowledge your resistance and let it go.
Think of your Daily Minimum as a reset button. Bring your troubles to your mat and leave them there. Remember to express gratitude to yourself and remember that you are doing the best you can.