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The Busy Dad’s Guide To Making Yoga Worthwhile

Heck no, it doesn’t require two hours and a totally quiet house. Here’s how to get your vinyasa on in 15 minutes or less, screaming kids optional.

Probably the biggest knock on yoga is how slowly it moves and how long yoga poses seem to take. Breathe in and out for two minutes?! Two minutes of anything without interruption is just not on the menu for most parents. Fortunately, however, the practice of yoga was developed based on the concept of flow—and if your flow is a little faster these days, yoga can adapt.

The following routine takes about 15 minutes, but you can hold each position for more or less time, depending upon your schedule. Either way, you’ll reap the two major psychological benefits of yoga—a clearer mind, and a sense of inner calm—and a smattering of the physical benefits of yoga, such as better posture, greater balance, more strength, and increased flexibility.

Here are the details:

A Basic Pose, For A Busy Dad

Give your entire body a strength and balance test with the Tree Pose. Start by standing with your feet together, arms by your sides. Shift your weight to your right foot. Bend your left knee to the side, raising your left foot until it touches the inside of your right thigh. Press it against your thigh, keeping your lower back straight, not arched. Bend your elbows and bring your arms to your chest, palms pressed together. Hold, if you can, for 30 seconds. Switch sides, and repeat until nap-time is over.

A Song Of Dogs And Cobras

Begin in a seated position, knees bent, legs crossed in front of you, hands pressed together prayer-like into your chest. Lower your head. (Picture the classic Buddha pose). Take one minute to think of a positive word (strong, happy, blessed, no-dirty-dishes-in-the-sink) and focus on it as your mantra for the session. Next, warm up with the classic yoga move Cat/Cow. Get onto all fours, then arch your back as you lift your head and butt toward the ceiling. Inhale deeply. As you exhale, round your back and drop your head and butt so you are looking at the floor, pulling your belly button toward your spine. Repeat 10 times.

Now move on to Downward-Facing Dog: Position yourself in an inverted V—butt toward the ceiling, arms stretched in front of you, legs straight, heels planted on floor. Extend your hips as high toward the ceiling as you can as you breathe in and out.

Relax. Repeat five times.

Next, walk your hands forward until you are in a very wide V, then lower your body to the floor so you are lying on your stomach, arms bent by your shoulders, palms pressed into the floor. Inhale as you push up with your hands, stretching your upper torso, neck, and head toward the ceiling while leaving your legs extended on the floor. Welcome to the Cobra.

Exhale and release. Do this five times.

Now, mix it up a bit. On the sixth inhale, raise your hips off the floor along with your chest, so that you are on all fours. Push through your heels and raise your hips even higher, back to the inverted V of Downward Dog. Breathe in and out. Return to your knees, and then return to Cobra. Repeat this Dog-Cobra sequence three times.

Mixing It Up With A Few Lunges

Lunges are a central part of yoga routines. They act as muscle strengtheners (legs, back, and glutes), ligament stretchers (hips), and balance stabilizers (abs). Here are a few variations worth incorporating into your home yoga regimen:

Start with a High Lunge: Take a big step forward with your right foot; bend right knee until it is over your foot. Straighten your back (left) leg. Stretch both arms over your head. Breathe in and out for 30 seconds. Push off the floor with your left foot and step it forward so it is parallel with your right. Repeat on opposite side. Do this three times.

Next, move into an Extended Side Angle Lunge, which works your abdominal muscles while deepening the stretch. From your original right-leg lunge position, reach your left hand down until it comes in contact with the floor. Twist your torso to the right, stretching your right arm toward the ceiling. When you feel like you have your balance, turn your head skyward to the right side as well. Hold for 30 seconds; breathe in and out. Repeat on the left side. Do two sets.