No time for yoga? Now you do! Although yoga is best practised in a quiet environment, focusing on your breath and without the distractions of the outside world around you, that's not to say you can't do some postures every day, easily incorporating them into your life.
There are a whole load of postures that are great to do when watching TV, working on your laptop or reading a book and you may not even notice you're in them (some you will)! Every time you sit down on that sofa is a stretching opportunity (just cross your legs and open your hips rather than having your feet on the floor or legs crossed), giving your muscles, that have more than likely been cooped up behind a desk all day, the chance to experience freedom!
In a more Yin yoga style, try to hold the postures if you can for up to 3-5 minutes - but you can stay longer if comfortable or become engrossed in a film. Just be aware you might be slightly stiff coming out and remember if you do one side to do the other one too!
Here are 10 of my favourite stretches, covering the whole body that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
Start to open your hips with sukhasana or crossed legs. You can either sit cross-legged on the sofa when watching TV or sit on the floor with your back resting against the wall. If you want to get a deeper stretch then start gradually coming forwards whilst keeping your spine straight.
One of my favourite hip openers, Cow face is a great posture to just hang out in. To get into the posture sit cross-legged and then draw one foot under the opposite thigh and the other foot over towards the opposite hip. If your hips are too tight you can sit on a cushion. To intensify the stretch and decompress the lower spine you can come forward in this posture.
Another hip opener, with strong external rotation of the front hip. If you have knee problems, in particular the inner meniscus, give this one a miss. Come into this pose from downward dog, bringing your right knee to your right wrist, your left leg out straight behind you. Flex the right foot to protect the knee. You're aiming to get the shin bone parallel with the front of the mat/rug/floor as your hips open but just reduce the angle to where is comfortable. Centre yourself so the weight is even. Tuck the back toes under and slide the back knee away. You can then either stay on your hands or start lowering down to the floor bringing your arms forward.
A deep hip opener through strong external rotation this is great preparation for lotus. Again in this posture be aware of your knees and if you have any pain stop. Start by sitting cross legged and then move your feet forward until your shins are parallel. Bring your upper knee onto the lower ankle and your upper ankle onto the lower knee, making sure they are all in one line (squared/stacked). You can intensify the posture by coming forward or by leaning to the side that the ankle is on top.
This again is a great stretch to hold for a while, lengthening your hamstrings. Ideally you need a strap for this (otherwise you can just place one leg up against the wall at a 90 degree angle and have one down on the floor using a doorway). Take the strap from around the top of the foot to behind the head and rest your head on either a pillow or a block. Make sure your leg is completely straight and don't go to your maximum straight away. As the leg starts to give you more space you can tighten up the strap gradually. And just hang out here whilst reading or watching television.
This pose, which stretches the inside of your thighs (adductors) is a really lovely one to just chill out in. Come up to a wall making sure your butt is pressed against it. Open your legs not quite to the maximum and just lie and relax into the posture - read a book or just chill out and close your eyes. When coming out, bring one leg up at a time using your hands.
A deep groin opener/adductor stretch. Admittedly this isn't the most comfortable of postures if you're tight in this area, but it's very beneficial. It can also help relieve cramps (menstrual and food related). One of the key things with this posture is to make sure you're on a padded surface otherwise your knees are going to be in pain. To get into the posture, start in child's pose and slide both hands forward, separating the knees but remaining sitting on the heels (this is known as tadpole). To deepen the stretch then bring the feet out in line with the knees. Try to keep the hips in one line with the knees - they have a tendency to come forwards, taking the stretch away from the adductors.
Criss-cross shoulder stretch
Probably not one you can hold for too long (or I can't anyway) this is an intense stretch for your deltoids. Come onto your front and bring one arm on top of the other, arms spread out to the side, palms down. You obviously can't read in this one but you can watch something on your laptop straight ahead of you. Don't end up crooking your neck trying to watch television though!
Again one for watching something from a laptop on the floor, this opens up your pectorials, an area that gets especially tight from sitting at desks and looking at our phones. Lie on the floor on your front and spread your arms in a T-shape out the side, palms flat to the ground. Twisting your body round come over onto the right hand shoulder, bringing the left hand in-front of you for support. Try to bring the right leg over and behind you to increase the stretch.
Virasana or saddle
This posture stretches the hip flexors and quadriceps. To get into this posture start simply sitting on your heels. If your quadriceps are tight this might be as far as you can go. If there is pain in the knees then do not do. You can then open up the space between your heels slightly to allow your glutes to come to the ground.
If you have any others ones you love - let me know - I'm always on the look out for more!