01 Oct 6 morning yoga poses guaranteed to transform your day
Morning Yoga poses
Not a morning person? If you’re tempted to hit the Snooze button, try to resist the urge with this short sequence of 6 morning yoga poses designed to bolster both body and mind and provide an energy boost to give your alarm clock a run for its money.
On colder autumnal mornings like these, we need to take extra care to keep our muscles and connective tissues moving and working, especially if we are going on to do other forms of activity such as running, cycling, or team sports. The following sequence starts with a twist to stimulate digestion and peristalsis, perfect for first thing in the morning. A gentle cat stretch to release the spine after sleep, some hamstring stretches – so effective when done mindfully, something for the shoulders and then a twist, a balance, and an extension all in one – meet reverse Trikonasana!
1: To stimulate digestion try this twist…
Step by Step
1. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.
2. Exhale and twist toward from the belly to your right hand side. With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh together.
3. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
Therapeutic Applications: Sciatica.
Benefits: Stimulates the liver and kidneys, stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck, energises the spine and stimulates digestion.
2: To release the spine try this…
Step by Step
1. Start on your hands and knees with the spine flat. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips.
2. As you exhale, roll your spine slowly upwards towards the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position and tuck the chin in towards the chest. As you in inhale, roll the chest back down towards the floor and open the chest.
3. Do 12 inhalations and 12 exhalations.
– Stretches the back torso and neck.
– Provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
3: Tight Hamstrings, try this…
Here is my favourite hamstring opener. What I like about this stretch is that it is very simple and it focuses directly on the hamstrings.
Step by Step
1. Lie on your back with your knees drawn into your chest.
2. Place a strap around the heel of your right foot, holding the two sides of the strap with each of your hands. Keep the arms long.
3. Slowly, without forcing or straining, start to extend your right leg toward the ceiling. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go straight; just keep gently pressing into your heel and drawing the ends of the strap toward yourself with the exhalation. Give yourself enough length on the strap so that it remains taut but your shoulders and back of your head remain comfortable rather than hunching up towards your foot.
4. Do this stretch every evening for a couple of minutes on each side.
5. Practice 12 cycles of breath (1 cycle = 1 inhalation + 1 exhalation) on either leg.
4: Adho Mukha Svanasana = downward facing dog
Step by Step
1. Come onto all fours, hands, feet and knees shoulder-width apart. Fingers spread and pointing forwards.
2. Turn your toes under your feet and lift your knees back away from the floor. Lift the hips toward the ceiling.
3. Stay on the toes at first, keeping the knees slightly bent. Now engage the thigh muscles above the knees, press through the arms and attempt to straighten the legs.
4. Take the posture into the legs and sink the heels towards the floor. Relax shoulders.
5. Hold the posture for two minutes, working the heels onto or down towards the floor. Breathe evenly.
– Aim to straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them.
– Make sure sides of feet are parallel.
– Soften the shoulders and open and keep the head relaxed.
– Releases tight shoulders, and works tight leg muscles.
5: Parsvottanasana forward extension…
Step by Step
1. Stand with feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Rest your hands on your hips. Turn your left foot in and your right foot out at 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs.
2. Make sure that the right knee is in line with the centre of the chest.
3. Extend the torso forward from the groins over the right leg. Stop when the torso is parallel to the floor. Press your fingertips to the floor on either side of the right foot. If it isn’t possible, you can use blocks underneath the hands. Press the thighs back and lengthen the torso forward, lifting through the top of the sternum.
4. If you would like to add a stretch for the shoulders, you can interlace the fingers and draw the arms upwards towards the ceiling.
5. Hold your position for 15 to 30 seconds on either side, then come up with an inhalation by pressing actively through the back heel. Repeat on the left side.
– Targets hamstrings, shoulders and spine.
– Flat feet.
– Works the spine, hips, and hamstrings and strengthens the legs.
6: Reverse Trikonasana – revolving three angle or triangle posture…
Step by Step
1. Feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel.
2. With an exhalation, turn your torso to the right and square your hip points as much as possible with the front edge of your sticky mat.
3. With an exhalation, turn your torso further to the right and extend forward over the front leg. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot.
4. Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute on either side.
Anatomical Focus: Ankles, legs, hips, groins, lower back, abdomen, shoulders and spine.
Therapeutic Applications: Digestive problems, Asthma, lower backache and Sciatica.
Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the legs, stretches the hips and spine, opens the chest to improve breathing, relieves mild back pain, stimulates the abdominal organs and improves sense of balance.
Let us know how you get on with this practice? Tweet us a picture or tell me more @chrisjamesyoga