Do you start your mornings feeling stiff and sluggish? Do you always feel sleep-deprived? Do you need a coffee (or three) before you can think clearly? Here are a few simple yoga tips that — in 10 minutes or less — can change the way you start your day. The following exercises will awaken the body and the mind, but are also a gentle way to ease into the morning rush. They’re quick, simple, and you can include the kids to get them energized and ready to tackle their own days.
Stand with the feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides. Inhale, and sweep the arms out to the side of the body, bringing them together above the head. Exhale and bring the hands down in front of the body (keeping the palms together). Allow your eye gaze to follow the movement of the hands. Imagine filling the entire torso with the breath as you inhale, and imagine growing taller as you exhale. Repeat 10-20 times.
Deep breathing helps energizes the body, and wake up the brain. Combined with this gentle movement of the arms, the upper body is in a much better position to start the day. (And hey, at least you’re upright!)
The sun salutation is a series of postures that warms up all of the major muscles groups, increases blood flow to the muscles, and connects the mind to the body and the breath. (There are many different variations of sun salutations, so this may be different than one you’ve practiced before). Aim to do a couple at first, and then work up to 5-10 rounds of sun salutations.
1. Standing upright, with feet together. Hands are together in front of the chest in prayer position.
2. Inhale, stretch the arms up and over the head. Arch the back slightly and bring the hips gently forward.
3. Exhale and hinge forward from the hips. Place hands on either side of the feet, the fingertips in line with the toes (bending knees if necessary). Bring the forehead towards the legs.
4. Inhale, step the right foot back as far as possible and place the right knee on the floor. Hands are on either side of the left foot. (Make sure the left knee does not go forward past the left ankle)
5. Retain the breath, and step both feet back so the entire body is in a plank or push-up position.
6. Exhale, drop the knees to the floor, and lower chest down to the ground between the hands. Place chin or forehead on the floor.
7. Inhale, and slide the body forwards, bringing the chest up into Cobra position (or Upward Dog if comfortable). Keep elbows tucked in, shoulders down.
8. Exhale, tuck the toes under, and lift the hips up and back into downward dog. Press the heels gently towards the floor. (bend knees if you have tight hamstrings or sensitivity in the low back)
9. Inhale and step the right foot forward between the hands into a low lunge. Drop the left knee to the floor and look forwards.
10. Exhale into standing forward bend, with the feet together and fingertips on either side of the feet. Draw the forehead towards the legs.
11. Inhale, and hinge upwards from the hips, lengthening the spine. Bring arms straight up over the head and arch back slightly.
12. Exhale to stand upright, with hands in front of the chest in prayer position.
(Repeat on left side to complete one round of the sun salutation.)
An intention can be as simple as “I will slow down today,” “I will be more patient,” or “I will make healthy food choices.” By creating an intention, you have a solid idea to connect with throughout your day. This is a good way to focus our energies, and keep our minds on track.
So the next time you’re tempted to press snooze or pull the covers up a little tighter, why not try a little breathing, moving and intention-setting to get your day started in a positive way?
Do you have any morning tips that work for you?