While an hour-long yoga class to start your morning sounds amazing, in reality, that may not fit your schedule. A quick, energizing morning yoga practice can be an effective natural supplement to set you up for a productive day.
Your productive morning starts the night before, so before you go to bed, take a few minutes to prepare your yoga space, lay out your clothes the night before, set your alarm, and commit to just five to ten minutes of yoga when you wake up. Besides, how bad can morning yoga be if you’re starting in child’s pose? Before you know it, you’ll feel taller, more awake, and ready to tackle your day.
Stretch, move and elongate your spine with these five morning yoga poses.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Photo 1, credit: Matthew Henry / Burst.com
More than a resting posture, Balasana gently lengthens the spine and stretches the hips, quadriceps and ankles.
Begin on your hands and knees, bring the toes together, and separate the knees wider than your hips. Sit back on the heels, extend the arms, and place the palms on the mat while actively reaching the fingers towards the front of the mat. Lift your elbows and arms from the mat for an active stretch and then, gently place your forehead on the mat. Inhale through your nose, exhale completely through the mouth making an H-A, “Ha” sound. Take five more breaths inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Gently walk your hands back toward your body and lift yourself back onto your hands and knees.
Photos 2 and 3, credit: Sk Studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Wakes up and warms up your spine.
Begin in the tabletop position with your hands shoulder-distance apart and your shoulders over your wrists. Make sure your knees are hip-width apart with the hips and knees aligned, and the spine and neck in a neutral position. Inhale, and then drop the belly button, allowing the tailbone and crown of the head to reach for the sky. This is your Cow position. Take an extra breath here and feel the stretch in your spine.
Next, exhale while moving into Cat. Tuck the tailbone and press the spine towards the sky, rounding the shoulders and allowing the head to drop while drawing the belly in. Take an extra breath in Cat and transition back to Cow. Spend the next few breaths moving between the two positions, inhale to Cow and exhale to Cat.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Photo 4, credit: AndIP / Pixabay.com
Strengthens arms, lengthens the spine, stretches hamstrings and calves and brings blood flow to the brain.
From the tabletop position you started in for Cow-Cat, exhale, tuck the toes and lift your “sit bones” (also known as your tailbone) to the sky. Keeping the knees bent, with palms open, press into the fingers and extend through the arms. Relax the shoulders away from the ears, and allow the neck to relax. On the next exhale, gently extend the legs pushing the heels towards the ground. You may want to peddle the heels toward the mat, bending one leg at a time, to get a nice stretch in the hamstrings. Depending on your hamstring flexibility, your knees may also stay bent with the heels lifted as needed. Hold for five deep breaths.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Photo 5, credit: Meredith McCurdy
Stretches the lower body and opens the chest.
From down dog, exhale and gently bring your right foot between the hands. Make sure your knee is lined up over the ankle. Then, place the left knee on the mat and uncurl the toes. Inhale and raise your arms above your head, and exhale. Engage the core as you move into “cactus arms,” lowering the elbows to shoulder height, rolling the shoulders back and opening the chest and neck while gazing upward in a gentle backbend. Hold for five breaths. Inhale, reach the arms up and exhale placing your hands on the mat. Step back into down dog for two breaths, and then repeat on the left side.
Easy Twist (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
Photo 6, credit: Matthew Henry / Burst.com
A spinal rotation pose that’s detoxifying and improves digestion.
From down dog, exhale and bring the right foot between the hands. Make sure the knee is over the ankle and then extend the left leg behind you. To work on building strength, keep your left leg elevated off the ground, but for an easier stretch, place your knee on the ground. Inhale, straighten your back, shoulders back and hands in prayer. Slightly lean forward and place left elbow on the outer of your right thigh and twist to the right. Gaze up over your the right shoulder. Hold for five breaths. Exhale, release the right hand down to the mat, step back into down dog for five breaths, and then repeat on the left side.
And that’s all it takes to set yourself up for a productive day. Add these yoga poses to your morning routine and you’ll be feeling more awake and energized in no time.
About Meredith McCurdy
Following a gap-year travel adventure in 2016, Meredith McCurdy is a freelance sports and entertainment marketer, yoga instructor and global wanderer. Previously, McCurdy managed Visa’s FIFA, entertainment and culinary partnerships. Prior to that, she was a sponsorship consultant at IMG (now Endeavor) and GMR Marketing. McCurdy earned an MBA from the University of Oregon, building on her previous experience in active lifestyle marketing. She is now exploring the social responsibility and social enterprise sectors.