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15 – All the benefits of yoga in 15′ a day

24 November, 2011

Mike Geary, who with his website The truth about abs, is now earning the modest sum of one million dollar a month, said ”Sell the customers what they want, but give them what they NEED” .
So let me state that even if it’s true you can have great benefits practicing yoga only fifteen minutes a day, the more valuable part of this article it is not in the application of my self developed routine, but in understanding some principles I’ll try to explain.

My first approach with yoga came at the age of 17, out of personal curiosity. I attended a course for three months, I like it, but when my subscription to the Gym expired, I didn’t get enough motivations to keep going. At the time I had two prejudices, the lasted for almost twenty years: yoga is a girlie thing and who believe in his philosophy are just alternatives confused about life.

Luckily I grew up and travelling in South East Asia, in Thailand more than in India, I realized the crap I had in my mind. It was especially after attending a course in Agama Yoga in Ko Phangan, that yoga become an essential part of my life.

Surely, unfortunately in the West yoga is still mainly a female thing, and to adapt to our mentality it is almost always reduced to a mere physical exercise, or overloaded of a religiosity whose assumptions I don’t largely share and that anyway has really nothing to do with the essence of yoga.

Yoga in his essence is a psycho-physical science for the growth and health of human being. Yoga has a millenary origin, but it didn’t stay same through all this years, and became outdated, instead it has evolved and today it is the best system, at least among the many I have tried, to reach a balance and health of body, mind and spirit. The word yoga in Sanscrit mean “union”, a union of all the components of human being and a union of mankind with all the world.

A divine union, but not in the meaning of blind adhesion of philosophical or religious dogma, but intended as capacity to transcend human limitations. You don’t have to be induist, or vegetarian, or crazy, nor idolatry a guru or being extra flexible to practise yoga. Personally I believe you appreciate it better without all this appendix, as I can appreciate Gospel music even if I sing atrociously and I am not a black catholic. Anyway this are choices that belong to personal freedom.

The fact of being flexible also, if it surely help and impress who is looking, on the other hand is fishy. Yoga is not competition and the measure to understand if you are progressing in your personal practice is not the ability to sit down in a fancy lotus pose without effort, but a better consciousness and the capacity to live in the present moment.

I have the gift of being extremely flexible by nature, and even without specific training (I never danced, only two years of martial arts helped me), still now, forty years old, I am able to stretch and contort in a way most of the people will never be. And this, and my proved learned skills, helped me for sure to land teachings jobs in Nicaragua and Colombia, even without looking for it and without any formal accreditation.

I can even say next January I will leave Cali, without unfortunately became a decent salsa dancer, but with the certainty given to me from the reviews of my students, that I am now a good teacher, at least at basic level. But the fact of being so flexible, for long time as been a hindrance, lead me to believe I could never be a good teacher: many yoga poses are easy and natural to me, what can I know of the difficulties of a normal person?

And like any yoga practitioner knows well, asanas, the physical part, is only the first stage, the elementary level, in yoga practice. Yoga is pranayama, control of your breathing, it is dharana or concentration, it is a series of purification practices, all to prepare to meditation. There is no yoga without intention of the mind, you will hear from a good teacher.

While talking about teachers, I strongly advise against start practicing yoga on your own. Even if it is not necessary that your yoga teacher is a guru to entrust your entire life, the energy of a collective class and have someone who aid in your first steps is absolutely fundamental.

Videos, books, websites, are all very useful supports and to deepen your knowledge once you are able to walk alone. And once you’ll reach that level, the real practice become a personal practice, because you will be ready to do the most important thing at the foundation of every good practice: listen to your body. So this routine it is not intended for an absolute beginner.

Myself, despite all my passion and what I wrote so far, I am an incurable slouch, one that even with so much free time at disposal, has always problem to find a way to practice with someone, and left alone I am happy to practice for only fifteen minutes a day, without be distracted by thousand of less important, less funny and less useful things.

The only recommendation for practice yoga is not doing on a full stomach. Personally I found the best time being first thing in the morning, before breakfast. Even if you really have only 15′, don’t limit just to asanas, physical exercise, do at least one exercise of breathing, one purification technique and some meditation.

This is my magic routine: since I am slouch, I often begin while still in bed, until I have to do Nauli Krya, but I recommend to get your ass off bed since you start.

1) Neck rotation clockwise first, then anti clockwise. Movements as ample and slow as possible. Five repetitions.
2) 100 cycles breath of fire
3) 1 complete anuloma viloma, or alternate nostril
4) 30” lione pose
5) Uddhiyana banda sitting in cat-cow or even at the loo, like in this video.
6) Two cycles of Anuloma Viloma
7) Nauli Krya or Uddhiyana Bandha
8 ) Sun salutation B Ashtanga style

If you have more time, I suggest to increase repetitions for every exercise, beginning to five repetitions of Nauli Krya and Sun salutation. For the latter in particular I developed a variation in which I keep every posture for five breath and doing Mula Bandha while in downward dog, which is very effective to stretch better my stiff body after sleeping.

The most important thing, let me stress on it, is to listen your body. Each of us has different needs, chronic pains to deal with, and even if you don’t know all exercise, just listening to your body you will naturally find the better way for you to stretch or relax the part of the body that need work.

If you caught the spirit of the routine you will soon find your, with different exercises. All great yoga masters agree for instance in say that the “King of asanas” is Sirsanana or head stand, while the Queen is Sarvangasana or shoulder stand. Both are among my favourite postures and I practice them often, but not usually when I do my morning routine, because I think it’s better do them with more body and mind preparation to enjoy their full effects.

Fifteen minutes are a range of time that even a slouch like me, or who wake up very early to go to work and have limited minutes can’t find an excuse for not giving a try. And since appetite come while eating, after 15′ it’s more probable you’ll find yourself on a roll and with wish to keep going instead that tired or bored, so 15′ will easily turn into 30′, and if you wish and have time you can do one full hour. I don’t suggest to do more than that if you are practicing first thing in the morning, because recent studies has proved you should have breakfast within an hour of your awake. Now, let’s go practice!

Cloudio is very flexible..don't try this at home!

Tools & tricks
Agama yoga The best yoga school I have been in. I spent five intense months, but their full program is forty-eight long!

Yoga journal The most popular magazine of yoga

The secrets of yoga Good website

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4 Comments
  1. Really great Cloudio,
    I miss Yoga a lot since I develop a lowe back pain a month ago.
    Daily short routines are great… they became a “ritual” that gives amazing benefits.
    One of the best ways to start the day, even if early mornings are the stiffest moments!!!

  2. VERY loweR backs smell too…. ()()

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