Five Morning Yoga Poses for a Calmer Day
You love the peacefulness of the first moments of your day: the phone is quiet, the air is cool, even in the summer and you feel like you have plenty of time to accomplish everything on your to-do list. But all too soon, you’re flying through your morning routine of making breakfast, getting ready and rushing to the car for the trip to work or school.
Yoga is a great way to take advantage of that “free” time. The stretching and relaxation can help you cope with the chaos that life can bring. And, morning exercise can boost your focus and metabolism. It’s also often easier to fit in some yoga time before ringing phones and emergency grocery runs eat up free time.
Summer is a great time to start a morning practice—it’s light when you get up and warmer temperatures make you feel less stiff and achy in the mornings. Taking your mat outside can also add to the benefits and the enjoyment of your practice.
When you begin your practice, you don’t have to set an intention. That’s great if it works for you, but this is a great time to let your mind empty and focus on each breath and each movement as you do it. Remember, too, that this is not the time to force your body into extreme poses if that’s not where it wants to go. You might want to start with three to five rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) to warm up all the major muscle groups, modifying as needed. Then try some of these poses:
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose) Benefits: This pose stretches your hip flexors and opens your chest, both of which help you feel released.
How to do it: Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Step or hop your legs three to four feet apart. Lift your arms actively to the ceiling. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees. Keeping your left foot on the ground, rotate your hips toward your right until your torso is parallel to the front of your mat. Remain in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then release and repeat on the other side.
Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) Benefits: Often, your back might feel tight first thing in the morning. This gentle stretch releases that tension without stressing your hamstrings.
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees. As you exhale, round your back, focusing on creating length in your lower spine. Allow your chin to round toward your chest. On an exhale, return to a neutral spine.
High Lunge Benefits: This pose provides a deep stretch in your hip flexors and the backs of your legs.
How to do it: Begin in Uttanasana (Forward bend). Step your left knee back until your right knee forms a 90 degree angle. Bring your torso over your right thigh and push your left heel toward the floor, thinking about the sensation of length in your calf. Remain in the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then return to Uttanasana and repeat on the other side.
Bharadvajasana I (Bharadvaja’s Twist) Benefits: This gentle twist is perfect for realigning your back after sleeping.
How to do it: Begin sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Lean your weight into your right hip and bend your legs. On an exhale, twist to your right, pushing your left hip into or close to the ground. Clasp the outside of your right knee with your right hand. You can look to the right or the left. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, lengthening your torso with each inhale and twisting more with each exhale. Release and repeat on the other side.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) Benefits: This pose stretches the inner thighs and hips, letting you start the day with a sense of physical freedom.
How to do it: Begin sitting in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Bend your legs in and let your knees open to the sides. You may want to do this pose on a folded blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Pull your heels as close to your hips as is comfortable, pressing the soles of your feet together. Remain in this pose for one to five minutes.
As you practice these poses, you can focus on enjoying the moment. Think about all the things that make this experience pleasant for you—it could be the breeze blowing over you on a hot day, or the joyful loosening of a tight muscle. Treat this time as your mini-getaway, then take a brief Savasana (Corpse Pose) and return to your day.
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Yoga to Open Your Hamstrings
Yoga Pose Library