How to sneak yoga into your daily routine

"I don't have time."

That's the universal American excuse for why we don't take care of our body, mind and spirit. 

If you just had more time, you could be as successful/beautiful/healthy/happy/wealthy as _______. Reality check: _______ has 24 hours in a day. Just like you. The fact is, we all have 24 hours. We just have different priorities.

Yoga is a priority to me. I try to make it to the studio for class 4-5 times each week for a 75- to 90-minute class. As much as I'd love to stand on a soapbox and preach the transformative powers of yoga and why everyone should practice, I know it's not a priority for everyone. And it shouldn't be. We are all different (thank goodness!) and not everyone loves yoga like I do. I get it.

If you're interested in yoga, but not interested enough to set aside dedicated time with your mat, there are some simple, seamless ways to slip yoga into your day. I do these myself.

You might feel a little silly at first, but your family will get used to it. Sometimes my husband giggles at me if I'm in a particularly strange pose, but for the most part he's become accustomed to seeing a plow pose in the living room while he's watching baseball.

I have to point out that one of the main points of yoga is to center your mind and focus. That means quieting your mind and focusing all your energy on your practice. Multi-tasking and yoga is kind of contradictory and you certainly won't reap all the benefits of a true yoga practice.

That being said, I believe some yoga is better than no yoga (noga?). It will help you be more mindful throughout the day and if nothing else, you'll get some good stretching in that will help you loosen up and relieve stress. And we could all use some stress relief, amiright? 

Just doing a little tree pose while I wait for the water to boil. OK, so maybe this is posed. But it illustrates the point. :)

Just doing a little tree pose while I wait for the water to boil. OK, so maybe this is posed. But it illustrates the point. :)

1. First thing in the morning

If you get up just 10 minutes earlier, you can slip in some yoga. That's one less push of the snooze button or one morning trip to Starbucks. You can sacrifice a snooze or a latte a couple of times a week, right? Here's a nice, quick morning yoga sequence. (You can even do it in your jammies!)

2. While brushing your teeth

Or doing your hair or makeup. Work on your balance by holding tree pose or loosen your shoulders by doing some simple shoulder rolls. I also like to stretch my feet while brushing my teeth. We put so much stress on our feet every day and they really love getting some TLC. (Caution: Do not practice your pranayama while brushing your teeth. You'll end up with toothpaste all over the mirror.) 

3. In your desk 

Desk workouts seem to be a thing now. At least, that's what Pinterest tells me. If you have a job that requires sitting at a desk all day, like I do, it's nice to give your body some counter stretches so you don't tighten up like a rosebud. Here are some simple desk stretches to try from Yoga Journal.

4. While cooking

Waiting for your pasta water to come to a boil? Or perhaps you're just watching/stirring your simmering food? You probably can't leave the kitchen, but it's the perfect opportunity to slip in some quick yoga. Try doing sun salutations on your kitchen floor while the you wait on that pasta water, or hold some nice long half moons in between each stir of the simmering food.

5. While watching TV

Watching TV can be relaxing, sure. Watching TV while practicing yoga? Even more relaxing. You can't move around a lot if you're seriously into an episode of "Scandal," but you can hold some nice deep stretches. My favorite TV-watching yoga pose is half pigeon, but I also like garland pose, chair pose and hero pose.

6. In the bath

I love taking baths. Some relaxing music, candles and almost-scorching-hot water is my recipe for relaxation. As such, it's the perfect time for some relaxing yoga, like pranayama breathing exercises. My favorite nighttime pranayama exercise is the surya bhedana pranayama (single nostril breath), as it makes me feel seriously cleansed and able to breath easily and freely. Legs-up-the-wall (Viparita Karani) is also a great pose before bedtime to relax your body, and can be done in the tub if you have a tile wall to use. Happy baby.

7. Right before bed

How many nights do you spend hours lying in bed, physically tired but mentally unable to sleep? If you spend just a few more minutes practicing yoga and a few less minutes stressing, you'll likely be able to sleep better. There are dozens of bedtime yoga sequences on the Internet, but I really like this one from on YouTube because you can do all the poses right in your bed!

There you go. Seven opportunities throughout your day to slip in a little yoga. Whether you're a yoga studio junkie or are new to yoga, I believe we can all benefit from integrating yoga into our daily routines because it can help us relax stress, improve balance and posture and sleep more restfully.