YOGA IN THE SHOWER!
I’ve practiced yoga consistently and diligently for over a dozen years now but I’ve always had difficulty cultivating a home practice.
Until I retired last year, I commuted most week days on the train for over 2 hours each way. Translation? Making it to a yoga class required planning and determination.
Yet I still resisted doing my practice by myself at home.
I had plenty of excuses – my apartment is too small to find a comfortable space; I’m too tired mentally to construct my own practice by the time I get home; I like the energy of a group class; I have to make dinner.
You get the idea.
I started doing some simple stretching in the shower because it helped me to get moving in the morning and the heat of the shower relaxed and warmed up my muscles. I didn’t even realize I was doing a home practice until it became almost a daily ritual. Upon reflection, it makes total sense. The shower is both invigorating and relaxing – a perfect environment to practice yoga – and you don’t have to set up a mat.
Of course, it’s not advisable to do any inversions or arm balances in the shower, but I am able to fit in at least a good 10 minutes of standing poses using the wall and shower paraphernalia as props.
Here’s a sequence that I find perfect for my morning practice in the shower. You can pick and choose poses or do the whole sequence if you have time.
The important thing is to savor the movement and use the warm streaming water to get you into a meditative frame of mind. (Also, it’s safest to do this before soaping up, to keep the area as slip free as possible.)
- With the shower running, start standing facing away from the showerhead and allow the water to stream down your back. Take Tadasana (mountain pose) and get centered with your breath.
- Warm up with a standing Cat/Cow. Stand with feet at least inner hip-width apart, bend your knees generously, and place your hands on your thighs. Arms can be bent or straight depending on your proportions. Start moving your spine back and forth with your breath into a Cat position (back curled inward, head and tailbone down) and Cow (back extended and head and tailbone up). Do this at least 3 times.
- Find some clear wall space away from the showerhead. Take a standing downward facing dog (L-shaped Pose) against the shower wall. Move about one leg’s length away from the wall, feet hip-width apart, bend at your hips and place your hands on the wall shoulder-width apart, about hip level. Imagine you’re in down dog. Stretch your arms straight and extend your torso parallel to the floor. Push your hands into the wall and extend your side body. Hold for 5 breaths
- Move closer to the wall and take a standing dolphin pose. With bent elbows, place your forearms firmly on the wall (shoulder-width apart, elbows about hip height) and again bend at the hips so that your torso is extended and parallel to the floor.Push into your forearms, especially on the inner side, and again lengthen your side body. Hold for 5 breaths.
- Take what we used to call “shower hang” pose in the Anusara world. Stand facing the shower wall, about one foot away. Reach your arms straight overhead and place your fingertips on the wall keeping your hands shoulder-width apart. Walk the fingertips up the wall as much as possible and let your chest melt toward the wall. Hold and take 5 breaths. If you want a greater stretch, move your hands down to upper chest level, press the palms firmly into the wall and arch your upper back away from the wall, lifting your chest, as if in cobra pose against the wall.
- This next pose opens up your shoulders. Still facing the wall (try to find a wider wall), move right up against it. Take your right arm and extend it straight out to the right so that it’s shoulder level and parallel to the floor, palm pressing into the wall. Start to peel your left shoulder off the wall and walk as much of your body away from the wall as possible while keeping your right shoulder and arm against the wall. Take 3 breaths and repeat on the left side.
- Now that your shoulders are warmed up, take Cow-Faced (Gomukhasana) arms, letting the shower stream down your back. Take your left arm straight up by your ear and bend it at the elbow, using your right hand to draw the elbow back so that the arm tracks vertically and close to your ear, elbow pointing straight up, fingers working their way down your back. Now take your right arm out to the side, palm facing back and bend that arm behind your back, elbow facing down, moving your fingers as high up your back as they’ll go. Try to clasp your fingers. If you can’t reach, clasp a wash towel, or shower scrunchie, or loofah or whatever you have available to help you join the hands; hold that between your hands and pull your hands gently away from each other. Take 3 breaths and repeat on the second side.
- Time for a balancing pose to sharpen your focus! (I find that the tight quarters of the shower stall makes it easier to stay focused and balanced.) This time, facing the showerhead, take tree pose. Stand firmly into your right foot, lift and turn your left leg outward and place the left foot as high up as comfortable on the inside of your right leg (just avoid putting it on your knee). If you feel unsteady, press your bent knee into the shower wall to steady yourself and to help externally rotate that leg and level your pelvis. Hands can be in prayer position at your chest, extended upward, or on the wall for safety. Repeat on the other side after taking 3 breaths. If you have the range, you can repeat the pose taking half-lotus on the bent leg on each side, or just repeat the standard tree pose. For a different perspective, face away from the showerhead.
- To integrate the practice, stand in Tadasana for at least 5 breaths and let the shower run against your back. Breathe naturally and clear your thoughts. Imagine you’re in Savasana.
And that’s the whole sequence. Do as much or as little as you have time for.
Get creative and add other poses that help invigorate and settle you for the day ahead!
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