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10 Minutes of Yoga: The Magic 10

by jenny sansouci on February 1, 2013

A couple of months ago, my life felt very different. Specifically, when I was living in LA, I had a lot of unstructured time, and unstructured time, for me, meant lots of yoga. As long as I got a yoga class in, I really didn’t care what else got accomplished that day. Yoga became my biggest priority. I was even practicing headstand, handstand and forearm stand against my bedroom wall every night. If I didn’t get to a physical class for some reason, I did an online class. I felt great.

Then I came back to New York, and things got, as they tend to, well – busy. I started working, and apartment searching (which is a full time job itself in this city…don’t get me started), and after a little while I realized I was only managing to get to 2 classes a week. Each time I stepped onto my mat, instead of feeling like it was my trusty daily pal, I had to keep getting re-acquainted with it.  A stark difference from the month before, when I was waking up in LA with no alarm clock and walking over to Runyon Canyon for a 10:30am class in the park, strolling over to Golden Bridge, or driving down to Yoga Works in Santa Monica whenever I felt like it. (I know…damn. It really was kind of the best).

Anyway, I started thinking. How do people maintain a daily yoga practice when they have other things to do? It was super easy for me when it was the only thing on my to-do list, of course, but now it was becoming a challenge. I love being in New York and I love everything I’ve committed to here, but yoga is important to me, and I just haven’t been nurturing that beautiful practice I had built in California. I found myself venting about this to my friend Jen, and the first thing out of her mouth was “Oh, just do the Magic 10. It takes 10 minutes.”

10 minutes? Now, I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of gal. So doing just 10 minutes of yoga instead of a 60 or 90-minute class, to me, felt like an uncomfortable phenomenon. Very gray area-ish. Moderation…not my forte. But I realized, if I want to have a daily yoga practice, I have to make the time for it, instead of just whining about not having the time. If I can do even 10 minutes, my mat won’t feel so foreign to me every time I make it to a full class.

So what is the Magic 10? Well, it’s a short 10 posture sequence designed by Sharon Gannon, one of the founders of Jivamukti Yoga. It’s designed to keep your spine supple and help you maintain a daily practice. In this interview, I love that Sharon says “doing anything on purpose, for even one minute a day, can make a huge difference.”

So here’s the “Magic 10.”
You can do this as a stand alone practice, or as a warm up and add other postures, sun saluations, etc.

1. Downward dog—10 breaths
2. Standing forward bend—10 breaths
3. Squat—10 breaths (feet and knees wide apart and parallel, hands in prayer)
4. Teepee twist—5 breaths each side (seated on floor with knees bent, feet on floor, twist right for 5 breaths, then twist left for 5 breaths)
5. Seated spinal twist—5 breaths each side (similar to teepee twist but with legs crossed, twist right first, then left, picture here).
6. Table top—10 breaths
7. Handstand—25 breaths (practice against wall, hop up with straight leg, bent standing leg pushes off floor OR L shaped handstand at wall)
8. Standing posture alignment—5 breaths (stand in tadasana, clasp hands in a fist behind back and lift clasped hands away from body, as high as possible)
9. Standing side bends—1 breath each side 4X (reach arms overhead in fist, bend to the right stretching one side, then bend to the left)
10. Standing spinal roll—16 breaths (from standing in tadasana, roll down to a forward bend, 1 vertebrae at a time and then roll up to stand one vertebrae at a time)

I think my favorite thing about this sequence is that there’s a handstand in there. If you do this practice in the morning, flipping upside down can be a super cool way to start the day, get your blood flowing and flip your perspective. If you aren’t comfortable with handstand, you can do headstand or simply lay down and put your legs up the wall.

Now, being February 1st, I am committing to a daily practice for the month. It might look like just the Magic 10. That 10 minutes might serve as a warm up, and turn into 30 minutes of postures. Who knows. And in the best case, I’ll make it to a full 90 minute yoga class. But no matter what, I’m committing to at least 10 minutes. Who’s with me?? :)

If you have any type of daily practice that keeps you connected to your yoga even if it’s a short sequence or breathing exercise, please share in the comments. I would love to hear!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

paulilow February 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

How did you do it? It was worth it to do 10 minutes?

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Mairi February 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for sharing Jenny! I’ve been in a similar situation. As much as I wasn’t a fan of cutting my yoga in half, I tried to see it as the universe saying “hey, slow down for a little please!” I love the Magic 10 sequence, I’ll have to give it a try when I’m in a pinch :)

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brista February 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

I am going to try this, although maybe I’ll do something else instead of a handstand! :D

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Sharon February 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm

A few years ago I re-entered the work world after staying home with children for a few years. During my SAH period I was fortunate to have the time to go to yoga classes and spend 60 – 90 minutes. Upon going back to work that changed! I quickly realized I needed to some yoga, ANY amount – daily, to stay connected to my body, myself. Those 10 minutes are my saving grace!

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Wild bird seed February 8, 2013 at 1:46 am

I do breathing practice in every morning. It helps me to start my day tension free and active.

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Nanc March 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I can show you a 10 asana series that flows all standing poses together. Might be 15 minutes. With it, you can segment whatever you like. It’s great for those days or weeks when you barely find the time.

I used to practice 1 – 2 hours a day and then work got in the way. I found myself reserving conference rooms at lunch. It wasn’t that great of a location — you could actually feel the intensity of the previous meetings in there…..

Sometimes it is truly best to wait until you can practice in your own sovereign space.

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Yoga newbie March 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

This is something that I have been doing each day for over a year now. I too quickly realized that life was not going to allow me to do it for an hour each day. But, if I did it for 10 min. per day, that still added up to over and hour each week. I was amazed at the results that I got from that small amount of time both in weight loss and also in stress reduction. I didn’t use this specific program but I used a mat called the CopyCat Yoga mat that had 9 basic poses printed right on the mat with hand/foot placements so I was able to easily learn them. I held each pose for 30 sec. on both sides and added a sun salutation which was equal to 10 minutes of Yoga. I COULD find time for 10 minutes-no excuses. The mind/body connection is vital to good health. Thanks for letting people know that you can incorporate Yoga into a packed day!

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dawn marie versluys September 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thank soooo worth ten minutes even on top of my morning class.

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