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Two women in a side stretch doing yoga outside.

Stress levels are at an all-time high for many of us right now. And we can all probably agree that finding ways to proactively support our well-being is more ideal than letting our stress go unchecked and having it negatively impact our health. Yoga is one of the more popular ways many find relief.

“Yoga supports people by giving them the tools to deal with any situation in life,” says Tory Schaefer, national director of yoga at Life Time. “We typically think of yoga as a physical exercise and way to stretch the body, which is a great side benefit, but really, it’s about our breath and how we connect to ourselves.”

We asked Schaefer to put together a few yoga routines that could fit easily fit into your day, no matter where you are or how much time you have. These three 5-to-10 minute routines are designed to not only stretch and strengthen your muscles, but also relax your body and mind.

1. Wake Up Flow

A woman sitting on a bench doing a wake up flow.

Core Warm-Up

  • Exhale, squeezing as much air out as possible while letting your belly muscles draw up and in.
  • Release your belly and draw air back in.
  • Exhale completely again, but this time, keep your belly muscles pulled up and in as tight as you can.
  • Take a shallow breath — with your belly locked, you’ll have to breathe in through your upper chest and side ribs. Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Take two to three natural breaths to reset.
  • Repeat this sequence two more times.

Spine Warm-Up

  • Sit at the edge of a chair or mattress and grasp the edge.
  • Find your natural breath, breathing in and out through your nose.
  • Inhale: Pull your fingers into the edge your grasping, using them to help pull your shoulders down and back as you lift your chin up toward the ceiling and arch through your spine.
  • Exhale: Push your palms into the top of the surface, using them to help spread the muscles behind your shoulder blades as you tuck your chin into your sternum and round your spine.
  • Repeat this inhale and exhale sequence three times.
  • Inhale back into a comfortable seating position.
  • Exhale while twisting to the right, bringing your left hand to the outside of your right thigh.
  • Gaze over your right shoulder and hold for three breaths, allowing your spine to twist a little deeper on each exhale.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Feet and Calf Warm-Up + Spine Curls

  • Sit at the edge of a chair or mattress and grasp the edge.
  • Inhale: Press your heels into the floor and draw your toes up toward the ceiling. At the same time, pull your fingers into the edge your grasping, using them to help pull your shoulders down and back as you lift your chin up toward the ceiling and arch through your spine.
  • Exhale: Press your toes into the floor and lift your heels up. At the same time, push your palms into the top of the surface, using them to help spread the muscles behind your shoulder blades as you tuck your chin into your sternum and round your spine.
  • Repeat three to five times.

2. Spine and Back Flow

Woman doing a spine and back flow.
  • Start standing. Inhale, reaching your arms up over your head.
  • Exhale, hinging at your hips and folding over your thighs.
  • Inhale, straightening your right leg and bringing a gentle bend to your left knee. Exhale, drawing your nose to your right (straight) knee. Notice the sensation in your right glute.
  • Inhale, switching legs, so your left leg is straight and there’s a gentle bend in your right knee. Exhale, drawing your nose to your left (straight) knee.
  • Inhale, lengthening your torso so it’s up halfway, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Feel your belly muscles firm. Exhale, planting your hands on the ground. Step your feet back and bring your body into a plank.
  • Inhale, holding the plank and firming up the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Exhale, keeping your arms straight. Slowly lower just your knees down to the ground. Feel your lower abdominal muscles work.
  • Inhale, shifting your weight forward into your arms. Exhale with your knees still on the ground, slowly bending your elbows and lowering your torso all the way to the ground.
  • Inhale, lifting just your chin — feel your cervical spine. Exhale, lowering your forehead down.
  • Inhale, lifting your chin and shoulders, bringing sensation to your mid-back. Exhale, lowering your chest and chin back down.
  • Inhale, straightening your arms to create a backbend that feels right for your body, Exhale, pressing back onto your hands and knees.
  • Inhale, lifting your tailbone and chin while dropping your belly — this is cow pose. Exhale, tucking your chin and tailbone while drawing your belly up and in — this is cat pose.
  • Inhale, cow. Exhale, cat.
  • Inhale, cow. Exhale, pressing your hands into the ground, tucking your toes and lifting your hips up to the sky — this is downward dog.
  • Inhale, engaging your arm muscles. Exhale, drawing your belly muscles in, and step both feet up to your hands.
  • Inhale, lifting your torso up halfway, and draw your shoulder blades toward one another.
  • Exhale, folding over your thighs, and relaxing your neck and jaw.
  • Inhale, standing up and reaching your arms over your head.
  • Repeat three to five times.

3. Final Wind-Down Sequence

A woman doing the final wind-down sequence.
  • Start standing. Exhale, folding your body over your thighs.
  • Inhale, lengthening your spine. Exhale, stepping your left foot back into a lunge. Drop your the left knee to the ground.
  • Inhale, placing your hands onto your hips. Exhale.
  • Over your next five breaths, slowly inch your hips forward and down to increase the sensation in your left hip flexor.
  • Inhale, creating space in your hips by lifting out of the compression you just created. Exhale, bringing both of your hands to the inside of your right foot.
  • Inhale, creating space in your pelvis by walking your right foot out toward the right side, away from the mid-line of your body. Exhale, sink and settle in, and experience that sensation for 3 to 5 minutes. Focus on your natural breath while in the pose. A couple minutes in, you may find that you can move to your elbows and sink the weight of your body forward more.
  • Come out of the pose using as little muscle engagement as possible. Move slowly and remember to breathe. Move your body into a place of neutrality, such as lying on your belly or back, or in a simple seat. Stay in this position for 1 minute.
  • Make your way into a forward fold. Inhale, lengthening your spine. Exhale, stepping your right foot back into a lunge and drop your right knee to the ground.
  • Inhale, placing your hands onto your hips. Exhale.
  • Over your next five breaths, slowly inch your hips forward and down to increase the sensation in your right hip flexor.
  • Inhale, creating space in your hips by lifting out of the compression you just created. Exhale, bringing both of your hands to the inside of your left foot.
  • Inhale, creating space in your pelvis by walking your left foot out toward the left side, away from the mid-line of your body. Exhale, sink and settle in, and experience that sensation for 3 to 5 minutes. Focus on your natural breath while in the pose.
  • Make your way onto your back. Hug your knees into your chest and slow your breath down — 4 to 5 seconds in, 4 to 5 seconds out with as smooth of an exhale as possible.
  • Inhale, opening your arms to a “T” shape. Exhale, dropping your knees over to the right for a twist. Hold for 10 breaths.
  • Inhale, bringing your knees back into your chest. Exhale, dropping your knees over to the left for a twist. Hold for 10 breaths.
  • Inhale, bringing your knees back into your chest. Exhale, squeezing your forehead to your knees.
  • Inhale, hold, and take in another couple of sips of breath on your inhale. Exhale, letting everything fall to the floor. Close your eyes and rest for a couple of minutes.

Bonus! Three-Part Breathwork: Dirga Pranayama

A woman doing three-part breathwork.
  • Close or keep open your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose, noticing your belly move until you feel the pressure reach your lower back. Exhale, keeping your mouth closed, squeezing out all of the air you inhaled — the pit of you abdomen should feel hollowed out.
  • Inhale until you again feel pressure in your belly, but this time also your ribs. Exhale the air all the way out with a closed mouth.
  • Inhale to fill with air through your belly and ribs all the way up to your chest. Once you get to your chest, take one more sip in, then exhale with a closed mouth as slowly and smoothly as possible.

Keep the conversation going.

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The Life Time Training Team

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