Nateshvar (Ken Scott) is one of the hottest yoga instructors in the United States, with a client list that includes Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson. He regularly works at film locations, where the strain of 16-hour days can burn out even the most committed pros. And while Nateshvar cautions that you aren't going to conquer the world with the following 20-minute yoga break, you will lessen "energy strain" and increase flexibility, physical and mental stamina, and focus. Sad to say, four things another mocha java and jelly doughnut won't do for you.
Take off your shoes and sit cross-legged on the floor. Keep your back straight but relaxed. Maintaining your posture, inhale deeply through your nose, raising your shoulders to your ears to deepen your inhalation. Hold it momentarily, then forcefully exhale through your mouth with a "HA!" Repeat 10 times.
"Deep, rhythmic breathing exercises are a good way to aggressively challenge your body to relax," says Nateshvar. Cap the warm-up with a neck roll, rotating your head clockwise three times and then counterclockwise three times.
The Chest Opener
Stand up and raise your arms directly overhead. Keep them straight as you let them slowly drop behind your back. Interlace your fingers, squeeze your shoulders together, and hold for two deep breaths. Repeat two to five times.
"The Chest Opener releases tension and helps you breathe better. If I had just a few minutes to spare, this is the exercise I'd do."
This is ideal for alleviating lower back stress. Sit with your knees drawn toward your chest, feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands around your knees. Touch your chin to your chest and gently rock back and forth on your "rounded" spine.
After a few minutes, try a side-to-side twist. Lie flat on your back, arms out to your side at 90-degree angles to your body, and your legs straight. On the inhale, bring both knees to your chest. On the exhale, roll your legs over to the left, keeping your right shoulder on the floor as much as possible and your knees bent. Turn your head to the right (away from the direction in which you're rolling). Hold the pose for at least two breathing cycles, then roll back to the center and over to the right.
Add on: while on your back, press your hands together in a prayer position and press against the bridge of your nose with both thumbs. Hold for one minute, breathing lightly.
While in the Easy posture, try massaging some of the tension out of your feet. Then go to a hands-and-knees-on-floor position. Rest your forearms on the floor in front of your knees and interlock your fingers to form a cap for your head to rest on. Lower your head into your hands, massage your temples with your thumbs in a circular pattern, and breathe deeply.
Lie on your back and slowly inhale. Using your diaphragm, pull air into the bottom of your lungs. Continue inhaling to open and expand your rib cage upward and out. Inhale all the way up under your shoulders, to fill your lungs completely. Then exhale slowly from the top to the bottom of your lungs. Try for an even, comfortable 10 seconds of inhalation and 10 seconds of exhalation. Repeat three times.
Coordinates: Nateshvar (Ken Scott), NYC, 212-833-5999; LA, 310-521-4163
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.