I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project blog, and her book, The Happiness Project. She writes beautifully and does a lot of interesting research.
(My latest find, thanks to Gretchen, was a link to Paul Bloom’s article First Person Plural in the November 2008 Atlantic Monthly, a fascinating look at our multiple selves.)
Among her Secrets of Adulthood, there are two that particularly relate to Five-Minute Yoga:
“What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE,” and
“By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.”
In that spirit, I’d like to throw out a Five-Minute Yoga challenge.
After all, no matter how busy you might be, there are five minutes somewhere in your day that you can devote to doing just one pose or preparation. And depending on the pose, it can have huge benefits.
Lately I’ve been realizing how many poses benefit from regular practice of garland pose (Malasana). It’s a gateway: practice it often enough and poses as disparate as Marichyasana I and Eka Hasta Bhujasana will become much more manageable, even if the only time you practice them is in class.
So here’s the challenge. Spend five minutes a day, every day this week, practicing some variation of Malasana, and see how you feel at the end of it.
You might choose to work with squatting, with your back supported by a wall and your heels on a foam block. Or hold on to the kitchen sink or counter and come into squat. If you’re working more deeply with the pose, try stretching your arms forward onto a wood brick, and, when you’ve reached your maximum, rest your head on the brick.
Whatever variation gives you a reasonable amount of sensation, without causing pain – other than yes, that burning sensation in the front shins – is the perfect place to be.
I’ll be teaching variations of Malasana in class all this week, so if you have any questions or difficulties, there will be plenty of opportunities to work out a solution. If you’d like to start now, but are worried about compressing your knees, spend your five minutes in happy baby pose until we find you a good Malasana variation.
Five minutes is a long time to hold Malasana, particularly at the beginning. Instead, set a timer for one minute, hold the pose until the timer goes off, then stand up, release whatever needs releasing for a minute, and return to the pose. If a minute is too long to hold, try 30 seconds, or go to an easier variation.
It doesn’t really matter if you don’t make all seven days. Three and above is a definite win, five and above is a triumph. Of course, if you have time, you can practice other poses. But if five minutes a day is all you have, experiment with spending it in Malasana.
Below I’ve posted a great way to work with Malasana using a strap on the rope wall – something you can easily duplicate at home with a door that closes toward you.
I hope you’ll join me in making this Malasana week. Let me know it goes.
If this was your kind of post, then check out the Five-Minute Yoga Challenge category to see 40 more.
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I garden in Malasana as well!
I was in a workshop with the extraordinarily flexible Taoist yogi Paulie Zink and asked him how long his daily practice was. His answer, no practice. Yoga happens all through out the day. Malasana during meal times for example. His asanas were integrated into his daily routine, not as a separate practice.
Gardening in Malasana is such a good idea – and gardening provides so many opportunities for squatting.
I like your story of the flexible Taoist yogi, and I agree, it’s good to have a day that naturally leads your body through a practice.
I do have some trouble imagining what day would require a headstand, shoulder stand or full back bend, and if I didn’t practice them, I’d miss them. So I guess I’ll continue doing a separate practice, with as much incidental yoga thrown in as I can manage.
Malasana is a great gardening pose. Whilst weeding, contemplating rows of peas or even a moments respite from turning soil…
And no better time of the year than now to be in the garden. . . .