When you’re confined to a small space, you don’t have to give up on your yoga practice! These eight standing poses can be your go-to postures when space is limited, and there’s no yoga mat in sight.
Most of you know that I’ve spent a lot of time in the children’s hospital this past year. I never brought my yoga mat into the hospital, but I always managed to stand up and stretch regularly. (You can get really stiff sitting/standing/hovering at a bedside.) I’m a major germaphobe, so I never wanted my hands to touch the dirty hospital floor. Instead of touching the floor, I managed to get creative and effectively stretch each body part in a standing position with very limited space. It’s this experience of no-mat yoga that inspired these poses below. This is a set of poses that can be done while on vacation in a tiny hotel room or even in the airport. I hope you give them a try and add them to your regular practice. Enjoy!
Separate your feet hip-width’s distance apart, bend your knees, and bring your chest to your thighs. Fold forward, grab opposite elbows, and settle into this pose for two to three minutes. While this pose may resemble Uttanasana, which is an active stretch of the hamstrings, the goal in this yin pose is to dangle the upper body for a longer period of time to help release the lower back. Remember to relax your head and neck, unclench your jaw, and release any tension that you might be holding in your face.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
From Dangle pose, bend your knees and lower your hips into Garland Pose. Rotate your feet outwards by 45 degrees, and bring the palms of your hands together. Press your inner thighs back in space with your triceps as you keep your chest lifted. Hold this pose for five breaths before slowing rising to a standing position.
Flying Pigeon Prep (Eka Pada Galavasana Prep)
Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, and flex your right foot to activate the your leg muscles and protect the knee. Begin to sink your hips down into a squat, and extend your arms in front of you to help you balance. You should feel a stretch in your outer right hip as you sink further into the pose. Hold this hip-opening pose for five breaths before rising back up and repeating on the opposite leg.
Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)
Stretch your entire front body while strengthening your legs and ankles in this standing balance pose. Focus on a stationary point a few feet in front of you to help find your balance, and kick your foot firmly into your hand to create the tension required to lift the leg higher and hold this posture. Maintain your balance for five breaths, and then practice on the opposite side.
Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana)
Choose either of these standing backbends to stretch the chest and reverse the hunching that many of us do throughout the day. In the supported version of this pose, the hands are on the lower back, and in the deeper variation, the hands are actively reaching overhead. Remember to keep your biceps alongside your ears in the deeper version of this pose to avoid neck strain. Both versions of the backbend will stretch the chest and lengthen the spine to relieve tension.
Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Yoga twists are thought to massage the internal organs, tone the belly and flush toxins from the body. With the possibility of such amazing benefits, we had to include one strengthening twist in the sequence. Press your palms firmly together to gain leverage for a deeper twist. Lift and lengthen your spine with each inhalation and twist deeper with each exhalation. Both knees should be aligned with one another, and your weight should be over your heels, rather than the balls of your feet. Hold this pose for five breaths before twisting to the opposite side.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
This standing balance pose will stretch the upper back and shoulders while challenging your balance and stretching the hips, thighs and ankles. If you have a knee injury or would like a modification, just cross your thighs without adding the element of hooking the raised foot behind the standing-leg calf. Quick tip: Remember that your arms and legs are folded in opposite directions! If your right leg is crossed over your left leg, your left arm is crossed over your right arm. Hold this pose for five breaths and then practice balancing on the other leg.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana C)
In this variation of a wide-legged forward fold, not only will you stretch your hamstrings, but you will also get a great stretch across your shoulders and chest. Keep your feet parallel as you hinge from the hips, and allow your clasped hands to fall forward for the deepest shoulder and chest stretch. Hold for five breaths before releasing the pose.