By Alia Al-Chalabi
I’m a big fan of productive procrastination. But as college continues, the actual value of taking a break has become a persistent part of my routine. The best way for me to take time to myself is yoga. As much as I want to, I don’t have time to go to a studio, but my room is a great alternative. Pick a yoga Spotify playlist, silence or your favorite tunes and then try a few of these poses from your yoga mat or dorm room floor.
Tadasana (mountain pose): This is a really complicated way of saying standing up straight with perfect posture and your hands in prayer position. This pose is done through just that, and with the accompaniment of your breath. It simply involves standing still with your toes spread out, focusing on nothing but your breath. You can just think about nothing for a minute, and it can quickly relax you.
Balasana (child’s pose): This is the most comforting position on this list. You basically curl up in fetal position with your arms out, but instead of laying on your side, you face down. Make sure to stay in the position and take a few deeps breaths. This is the best pose if you start to feel sick because it relieves sinus pressure.
Adho Mukha Svanasana/Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog/upward-facing dog): These basic poses are the perfect way to stretch out when you feel tense, and they compliment each other, so it’s easy to do them in succession. For downward-facing dog, put your hands and feet on the mat so your body makes a shape similar to a “V,” and then to transition into upward-facing dog, you sway your body forward and arch your back the opposite way to create an arch. All the tension from lugging your books around all day will disappear.
Virabhadrasana II (warrior II pose): This pose helps me focus all my concentration. I do it directly after up and down dog to maintain steady breathing. Stand up, put one leg forward and bend it at 90 degrees, with your other leg strong and straight behind you. Then, put your arms straight out by your side and twist toward the bent knee. Try to pick a finger to focus on and hold this pose for as many breaths as you can. Then switch sides and you’ll forget your school work even exists.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose): This one requires slightly more flexibility, but is a great way to twist out your back. Sit flat on your bottom and tuck one leg under your pelvis. Then swing your other leg backward and lift slightly off the ground using your arms that should be by your side, helping you push off the ground. After you hold this for a few breaths, don’t forget to stretch the other leg.
Backbends: There’s a lot of ways to stretch your back, and all of them are good, just depending on how often you practice. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) is awesome if you’re just starting out. All you need to is lie on your back with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your shoulders by your side, then lift up from head to feet making sure you put no pressure on your neck. This pose is super energizing at the end or beginning of the day. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can do wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) where both your hands and feet are on the ground and your stomach is extended as far as possible in the air. If you’ve never done this before, start on the ground then push up instead of trying to get into the pose from standing position.
Whatever yoga you want to practice, just be sure to listen to yourself and not do anything that hurts. Yoga is the best way to focus on meditation and mindfulness, and you can spend as much or as little time as you want. Namaste everyone.