It’s not always easy to get to yoga class. Whether it’s a late night at work or something else, we get it; sometimes that hour of downward dogging just doesn’t happen.
There’s no reason not to strike a few poses throughout the day, though. In fact, you can reap most of the same benefits of a class by spending a few minutes throughout the day doing a backbend, warrior pose or opening up your hips.
Here are 8 yoga poses to do every day — yes, even at the office. If your co-workers give you weird looks, well, so what?!
Cat-cow is the perfect way to wake up the entire spine after it’s been resting for a solid seven to eight hours (we hope). Start on your hands and knees in a neutral pose. From there, arch your spine up and look down at your thighs. Take a breath, bring your spine back to neutral and then look up while dropping your belly. Repeat this four times.
Downward dog stretches out the back, legs and arms. It’s a bit more intense than cat-cow, but it’s another great way to wake up. Start on all four with a flat, neutral spine. From there, tuck your toes, lift your hips, bring your ears between your arms and look down at your thighs. Bring your heels toward the ground, and pedal your feet to wake up your hamstrings and calves. Hold this for three breaths before coming back down to your hands and knees.
When you’ve been sitting all morning, a standing forward fold is a great (and not all that noticeable) way too stretch your legs and back. Start by standing upright and dropping your shoulders. Slowly start to hinge forward, but don’t worry about touching your toes. If that’s not happening, bend your knees. If your fingertips easily brush the floor, trying bending one knee and then the other to open up each hamstring separately. Come up slowly, one vertebrae at a time, making sure to bring your head and neck up last. If you’re feeling really ambitious, go for a second round.
Seated forward folds are great for digestion, so taking this pose after lunch is a wise choice. Start seated upright with your legs in front of you. From there, crawl your palms down your legs and toward your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, let your palms rest on your shins or bend your knees. Hold this pose for three breaths before walking your palms back to an upright, seated position.
If you fall victim to the 4 p.m. slump, instead of reaching for sugar or caffeine, try taking Warrior 2. Warrior 2 is a strong, energizing pose that will get you through your final few hours of work. Start in a low lunge position, with one foot forward and the other behind, with your back toes tucked. Plant your back heel on the ground and cartwheel your arms up, bending your front knee and extending your arms. Make sure your front heel is lined up with center of your back foot and take your gaze forward. Hold this for three breaths before cartwheeling your arms back down to a low lunge position.
Because we hold a lot of tension in our hips, they’re pretty tight by the end of the day. Opening them is relaxing for the body and helps it wind down, so take pigeon pose. Start in downward dog, lift one leg up for a three legged dog, bend your knee, and bring your shin parallel to the front of your mat while squaring off your hips. If this isn’t easy for you — and it isn’t easy for most people, considering most of us have tight hips — trying bringing a blanket underneath your hip and crawl forward until your forehead is resting on the mat. Hold for five breaths before bringing your leg back to a three-legged dog, and eventually back to downward dog.
Child’s pose is the ultimate relaxation pose and perfect for getting you ready for a night of restful sleep. From downward dog, gently bring your knees to the ground and to either edge of your mat (this helps with opening up the lower back), and take five deep, restorative breaths with your forehead resting on your mat.