Wake Up: Morning Yoga Sequence
Before you roll out of bed in the morning to check your email, catch up on Twitter, and stumble to the coffee pot, consider trying this new morning yoga routine. Each posture is designed to wake up the body and energize the mind. The best part? It only takes five minutes. Feel better all day long by trying these easy to do moves:
1. Standing side stretch
Stand tall and reach your hands overhead to lengthen your spine. Stretch your right-side body by tilting to the left on an inhale, then exhale back to center. Stretch your left-side body by tilting to the right on an inhale, then exhale to center. Complete 10 cycles of breath.
Benefits: Waking up your side body with these simple stretches invites breath into your lungs and fresh oxygen to your bloodstream.
2. Standing forward fold/bend
Hinge at your hips and fold your torso forward. Let your head hang heavy to relieve any neck stiffness that built up overnight. After a few breath cycles, invite motion into the posture by inhaling to a flat back, then exhaling to a forward bend. Complete five cycles of breath.
Benefits: Folding forward relieves tension and stress stored in the spinal column. Positioning your head below your heart and heart below your the hips forces the blood in your body to change directions which soothes nerves and energizes the mind by bringing fresh blood to the head.
3. Downward-facing dog
From a forward fold, place your hands on the mat and step your feet back to create an inverted ‘V’ with your body. Spread your fingers wide and press the Earth away with your palms, then send your heels to the mat to stretch the backs of legs. Push your shoulders back towards your thighs and send your tailbone up and back. Hold this pose for several breaths.
Benefits: Downward facing dog is notorious in the yoga community for energizing the body and mind, relieving stiffness and soreness, and boosting circulation. It’s no wonder yogis always say, “A down-dog a day keeps the doctor away.”
4. Cow/cat tilts
Come to table-top position with your knees positioned under your hips and wrists positioned under your shoulders. Cow: Take a deep breath in and drop your belly while lifting your tailbone and crown of head high. Cat: On an exhale, pull your belly to your spine and arch your back like an angry cat. Complete five cycles.
Benefits: Cow and cat tilts are a gentle way to wake up the spine and loosen muscles to increase flexibility in that area. Cow stretches your neck and the front of your torso, while the curve of the cat helps to relieve stress by lengthening the spine and improving circulation to the discs between the vertebrae. Your abdominal organs will also be massaged, stimulating the digestive system in your body.
5. Thread the needle
From table-top, take your right arm up and out to the right, then slide it to the left with palm facing up (threading the ‘needle’ behind your left wrist). Lower onto your right shoulder, then use the strength of your left arm for leverage to deepen the twist. Hold for several breaths and repeat with the left arm.
Benefits: ‘Threading the needle’ will gently stretch your shoulders and twist your spine. This pose can easily be taken deeper, intensifying the spinal twist for those with flexibility here.
End your morning yoga in a classic child’s pose, and have a great day!