Kylie in Utkatasana (chair posture) incidental yoga at the farmer's market

How to be a yoga ninja – incidental yoga that won’t turn heads!

A good friend and fellow yogi recently sent me a text from a children’s indoor play centre. He was doing a bit of, what he calls, ‘incidental yoga’. Subtle poses he can discreetly practise in public without feeling like everyone can notice. He was wondering if there was a resource for this type of yoga?

A bit of googling revealed quite a few blogs written on the subject. My personal favourite was a lighthearted blog written by Rudy Mettia on Huffpost. It seemed my friend wasn’t the only person incorporating ‘incidental yoga’ into his daily routine. However, none of the blogs I read touched on the idea of being a stealth yoga ninja and practising in public without people noticing… Until now!

This series of yoga asana are particularly good for parents in parks and indoor play centres. However, anyone waiting in line for shopping or queuing for their morning coffee would benefit. I recently gave a few of these poses a whirl at my local farmer’s market and barely drew a sideways glance. Have fun!

Tadasana – Mountain pose

The easiest of poses to perform unnoticed, tadasana is prefect for those times when you feel the rising frustration of waiting in line. Improve your patience by becoming the mighty mountain of tadasana – immovable and strong yet peaceful. Stand with your feet together and arms activated by your sides.

Press down evenly into all corners of the feet. Lift the kneecaps and engage the thighs, draw the pit of the belly up and feel a lift in the pelvic floor. Broaden the chest, keeping your ribs contained and lengthen through the crown of the head. Live precisely in this moment and breathe.

Uttanasana – Standing forward bend

This beautiful restorative asana calms the nervous system and the mind. Next time you need to ‘dig something out of your bag’ or ‘tie your shoelaces’, do it through Uttanasana. Ground down through the centre of your heels as you align your hips over your ankles.

Bend your knees as much as you need and activate your thigh muscles. Engage your core as you lengthen your spine and draw the crown of your head toward the floor. Soften your face and neck. Take your hands to the ground to deepen the pose. Lift your hips high and squeeze your thighs.

Surrender to your breath and feel the sense of calm wash over you. Casually ferret around in your bag or slowly tie your shoes to conceal this magical pose to unsuspecting passers by.

Utkatasana – Chair pose

One of the more expressive shapes in this series, Utkatasana is best pulled off in public by sneakily incorporating it when sitting down to an actual chair. This powerful posture requires a strong foundation to lengthen and open the spine and chest.

From tadasana, bend your knees and sweep your hands forward as you begin to engage your core and squat down toward your chair. Press into your heels, grounding the legs. From this strong base, lengthen the upper body and open the chest breathing in deeply the air that surrounds you.

Lift your gaze and hold for a few breaths before ever so casually taking your seat. You could also do this in reverse next time you need to stand up from your chair.

Garudasana – Eagle pose

Another expressive pose that may draw a few looks if not executed in the right context – waiting in line for the toilet! The only downside is that people may insist you jump the queue!

From tadasana – mountain pose, place your hands on your hips and raise your right knee toward your chest to balance on your left leg. Ground down through the left leg, activate your glutes and stabilise your left hip.

Keeping your balance wrap your right leg over your left thigh and hook your right foot around your left calf. You might need to bend deeply into your left leg as you do this. Take your arms out wide at shoulder height.

Take your right arm underneath your left crossing at the elbows, bend your elbows and bring your hands together with palms facing each other. Lift your arms up in front of your face and draw your shoulders away from your chest. Hold for a few steady breaths before repeating on the other side.

Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half lord of the fish pose

Another easy pose to conceal, this seated twist is perfect for realigning the spine, aiding digestion and casually checking the kids are ok on that play thing over there…

From a seated position, fold your right leg across the front of your body and place your foot to the outside of your thigh. Ground down evenly through your sitting bones. Raise your left arm and lengthen your spine as you inhale, as you exhale, engage the core and twist toward your right thigh, place your elbow on the outside of your thigh and gently deepen your twist.

Look to where you want to take your twist and use your breath to deepen the pose. Feel the detoxifying effects as your twist gently rinses out your organs. Slowly return to centre before repeating on the other side.

For an anatomical view of many of these poses, check out Bandha Yoga’s 3D pose viewer.

I hope these fun and simple asana help you become a stealth yoga ninja and give you the confidence to practise incidental yoga in public. Let me know how you go by leaving a comment or posting your pics to my Facebook page.