Some mornings, dragging yourself out of bed is a chore. Yoga can help make the process a little more tolerable. Whether you need a short routine to just get the kinks out or an extended flow to help energize you, morning yoga can meet your needs.
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A morning practice can clear your mind, help you set a positive tone for the day and even negate your need for coffee. You'll move a little easier and feel a little more spiritually nourished all day long.
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A Mellow Wake-Up Call
To ease yourself out of bed, roll off the mattress onto a yoga mat. These poses are gentle enough that you could even stay in bed if you're not quite ready to face the floor. Breathe deeply in each pose for five to 10 breaths.
Child's Pose: From all-fours, lean your buttocks back over your hips. Reach your arms forward on the mat and rest your forehead on the floor.
Cobra: Stretch forward to lay on your belly. Place your hands under your shoulders and lift your face, chest and fronts of the shoulders. Feel your lower back engage to lift you up, rather than your arms.
Cat-Cow: Rise to your hands and knees. Inhale and arch the spine like a Halloween cat, then exhale and drop the belly to sag toward the floor. Alternate between the two for the duration of the breaths.
Wind-Relieving Pose: Roll onto your back and hug your knees into your chest. Use your hands to squeeze gently outside your shins.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose: Extend both legs out on the floor as you lay on your back. Use a strap around the sole of your foot or hold onto your right big toe with your right hand. Extend the right leg as far up toward the ceiling as you can. Bend the left knee and plant the foot in the floor if you feel discomfort in your back. Repeat with the left leg.
After a night's sleep, stiffness in the joints may be quite apparent. A morning yoga practice can loosen up these tight spots and get you ready to move.
Ease into the practice with Child's pose and Cat-Cow undulations, then:
Do five to 10 Sun Salutations. Stand tall at the front of your mat with your arms reaching overhead. Fold foward to touch your toes. Bring your hands halfway up your shins as you lengthen your back. Plant your hands on the floor, step back to the top of a push-up with your hands under your shoulders. Lower down to the floor. Perform a Cobra and then move your hips to the sky in the triangular shape of Downward-Facing Dog. Step back forward, rise and repeat.
Visit three key standing poses on each side: Warrior I, Warrior II and Triangle pose. For Warrior I, lunge your right foot forward and bend your right knee. Root your left foot into the floor, legs about 3 feet apart. Raise your arms overhead and take five to 10 breaths. For Warrior II, keep the Warrior I stance, but widen your legs slightly. Shift your hips toward the side of the mat as you reach your arms to the front and back of the room. Turn your head to look over the right hand. For Triangle, extend your right leg and tilt from your hip to touch your shin or the floor. The left arm reaches straight up to the ceiling.
Sit down on your mat to do a few seated and reclined postures. Breathe 10 counts in Seated Forward Fold. Lie down on your back, bend your knees, plant your feet and lift your hips to get into Bridge pose for five to 10 breaths. Hug your knees into your chest and allow them to fall over to one side for a spine twist; repeat in the other direction. Hold each twist for three to five breaths.
Stretch out long on your mat and spend at least 5 minutes in quiet reflection, or Savanasa. This sets the tone for your day, don't skip it!
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