The circuit breaker measure for COVID-19 means most people are plonked in front of their computer screens for more time than they actually would be at work. And while sitting pretty does have its charms, it's neither great for your waistline nor your flexibility, and can lead to ache-causing muscle tension.
Yoga is a great home workout option because it's low-impact (to protect your joints and prevent your neighbours from calling the cops on you) and certain staple poses are easy for beginners to learn. While it's probably unrealistic to emerge from circuit breaker a guru, you can definitely become stronger and more supple.
When well-versed in these basics, you'll be able to do longer classes in the future, whether still at home or in the yoga studio.
Targets: Spine, chest, shoulders, back
This pose helps to release tension from the upper body and is especially great for people who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.
Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Keeping your hips above your knees and your shoulders above your wrists, tuck your chin into your chest and lift your spine towards the sky. Use your upper back muscles to push the floor away from you and lift your back up. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Spine, chest, shoulders, back
This pose works on opening the chest and shoulders. Usually done together with the cat pose to form a repeated cat-cow transition, which creates fluidity in the spine and releases tension in the neck and shoulders.
From the cat pose, return to a flat back. Keeping your hips above your knees and your shoulders above your wrists, drop your shoulders down towards the ground and reach your chin forward. As you start looking up, arch your back and lift your sit bone up. Keep reaching your heart and hips to the sky. Stay for a few breaths.
Targets: Ankles, quads
We often stretch the back of our ankles, but we seldom stretch the front. This is an easy way to do so.
Start by kneeling on the floor. Point your toes and slowly lower your hips down. You can keep your knees and heels apart if needed, but try to keep your toes together. Hold for a few breaths. We recommend doing this pose on a yoga mat or a soft rug if you are new to it.
Targets: Hips, inner thighs
Many people have little mobility in their hips when it comes to external rotation because walking and sitting keeps the hips facing forward. Try this pose for more range of motion.
Sit on the floor and place the soles of your feet against one another. Bring your feet closer to your body. Slowly swing your knees up and down to relax your hips. Try to bring your knees to the floor. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Hips, thighs, shoulders and ankles
This is a resting pose, usually employed between more challenging poses. It gives you a gentle stretch in various areas of the body, and is a great precursor to the forward fold.
Starting on all fours, touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. If you wish, lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back for some blessed tension relief.
Targets: Hamstrings, calves, back
After a long day of sitting or standing, this pose helps to stretch the back of your body.
Sit tall with your feet together in front of you. Raise your arms above your head, elongate your spine, and bend from the hips to reach for your feet or calves. Hold there or slowly start to reach your chest towards your toes, letting your belly soften towards your thighs. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Hamstrings, calves, back
This pose is a forward fold, but done with the assistance of gravity for added relaxation.
Stand straight with your feet together. Keeping your back straight, bend from your hips and reach your hands to the ground or to the back of your ankles. Try to bring your belly to your thighs. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Chest, shoulders
The puppy pose is excellent for loosening tight shoulders and chest muscles.
Start in an all fours position. Keeping your hips above your knees, walk your hands forward as far as you can. Your chest will naturally lower. Try to let your chest rest on the floor. If that is not possible, you can rest your chest on a pillow, yoga block or a thick book. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Ankes, calves, abdominals
After reducing your physical activity, you may notice that your balance and coordination are not quite what they were. This classic pose helps you work on the balance so essential to yoga, and life.
Begin from a standing position, with your weight distributed evenly across both feet and through your toes. Shift your weight to your left foot. Bend your right knee, then reach down and clasp your right inner ankle. Use your hand to draw your right foot alongside your inner left thigh. Do not rest your foot against your knee, only above or below it. Adjust your position so the center of your pelvis is directly over your left foot. Then, adjust your hips so your right hip and left hip are aligned and your body is not turned to one side. Then, press your palms together in prayer position at your chest, with your thumbs resting on your sternum. Fix your gaze gently on one, unmoving point in front of you. Press your right foot into your left thigh, while pressing your thigh equally against your foot. If your shoulders are more flexible, you can raise your palms while keeping them together, till they are above your head, for a great shoulder stretch. Hold for up to one minute, after which you can return to a standing position and repeat this pose on the other side.
Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves
Many people have a love-hate relationship with this pose, which strengthens your quads and is a big calorie-burner.
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Clasp your hands together in front of your heart. Keeping a natural arch in your spine, bend your knees and bring your hips down. Try to make your thighs parallel to the ground. Push your knees behind your toes and engage your glutes. Hold for a few breaths.
Targets: Glutes, quads, neck
This is another great headache-relief pose, with the benefit of tighening your tush.
From a lying position on the floor with your knees bent and your soles on the ground, bring your feet closer to your sit-bones. On your inhale, press equally into your shoulders and feet to raise your hips to the sky. This should lift your chest toward your chin. You can stay here or to take it further by interlocking your fingers on the ground under your body, and rolling your shoulders under and toward each other. If this pose places too much pressure on your neck, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders. Avoid this pose if you have neck injuries.
Targets: Abs, arms
This pose is the starting point of many other yoga poses, and is fantastic for core training.
Start in an all fours position with your fingers spread, arms perpendicular to the floor and shoulders directly over the wrists. Without letting your chest collapse, tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line. Take care not to let your hips sink and keep your thighs lifted.
Targets: Shoulders, back, hamstrings, calves
You always return to downward dog during yoga flows because it helps to stretch and strengthen the whole body while you catch your breath.
Start in a plank pose, with your palms and toes on the ground. Lift your hips up and let your heels fall towards the ground to create the downward dog shape. Try to create a straight line from your wrists to your hips. You can keep a soft bend in your knees if you have tight hamstrings or hyperextended knees. Keep your heels close to the ground to stretch the back of your legs. Do not overarch your back as you continue to lift your sit bones to the sky. This pose is great for relieving tension headaches because it allows your head to hang and shoulders to relax.
Targets: Waist, legs
This pose stretches the sides of your waist and helps you take deeper breaths than you normally would. It's also great for strengthening the legs and helping you bring awareness and muscle tone to almost the entire body (while taking awareness away from that nosy neighbour over the fence)
Start standing with your feet widely spread about, about one leg's-length apart. Open and stretch your arms to the sides at shoulder height.Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left toes in about 45 degrees. Engage your thighs and abdominals as your upper body hinges over your right leg. Place your right hand down on your ankle, shin or knee (in decreasing levels of difficulty) while keeping the entire pose flat, as if you are in between two narrow walls. Lift your left arm up to the ceiling. Turn your gaze up to the top hand and hold for 5-8 breaths. After returning to standing position, repeat on the opposite side.
After running through a gamut of yoga poses, it's time to relax with this one which is just lying flat on your back with your hands by your side. Gurus have called it the hardest pose because it's almost a form of meditation, where you consciously release tension from holding any muscles in place (including your face) while also staying present, aware and relaxed. For the casual practitioner though, the biggest challenge comes in not falling asleep.
If you don't want to think about what routines to design for yourself, you can consider going for free online classes offered by Yoga Studios in Singapore here: