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Start Your Day Right with “Wake-Up Yoga”

31 May 2013

Do you find yourself waking up begrudgingly after repeatedly pressing the snooze button? Well you can turn this around and make starting your day something you want to do; you may find you’re even excited about getting your day started! The first 5-minutes in the morning can provide a critical window of opportunity that might just change your whole day for the better.

When used wisely, those precious few minutes between being in lala-land and getting out of sack can greatly improve your mood, prompt your commitment to eat well, and increase your likelihood to exercise or work out that day; and all this can be accomplished while you’re still in bed! Now that’s a whole lot better than hitting that snooze button one more time, wouldn’t you agree?

Regardless of whether your exercise choice is yoga or not, scientific studies report that if you wake yourself up in a way that stimulates your body’s blood flow, balances your hormonal system and starts the process of detoxification, you’re more likely to continue those healthy habits throughout the day.

If you practice the following sequence, confident of its ability to do the above, you’re sure to shake off the usual sleepiness and generate more energy and alertness, all the while maintaining a calm, centered mind. This practice can make a big difference as to whether you decide to continue on with your morning (or daily) workout, or to skip it.

The key is to begin to move “mindfully” before the mind’s resistance gets involved, and before both eyes are completely open, you’ll already be well on your way to an endorphin-filled morning, kick-starting a more focused, fit, and self-confident day.

Now, isn’t that worth waking up for?

Try practicing the following sequence and judge for yourself…

Laying Goddess Pose

Immediately upon waking, roll over and lie on your back. Place the soles of the feet together and open your knees wide. Rest one hand on your lower abdomen and the other one over your chest as you begin to take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. When inhaling, expand your body so both hands rise. Retain the inhaled air for a few seconds, then relax and let your exhale happen naturally and your hands fall back down. At the end of your exhale, contract your diaphragm gently pressing the remaining air out of your lungs. Retain the exhale for a few seconds. Repeat this for 10 breaths.

Happy Baby

Next you begin to work the kinks out of your lower back by drawing your knees up and back beside your ribcage. Once your knees are in position, press your hips towards the mattress, so your butt doesn’t lift up, and then draw the knees down as far as they will comfortably go by pulling with your fingers around your big toes (you can also pull on the outer sides of the feet or behind your knees). Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Supported Shoulderstand

Take a pillow and bend your knees to lift your hips and place the pillow underneath. To effectively detox, your legs and hips must be elevated above the heart and your heart above your head. If more pillows are needed, keep them nearby. Lift your legs into the air, or rest them on your bed board or the wall for more support. Hold for 10 breaths or more.

Seated Eagle

Slowly roll over onto your right side, and gently press yourself up into a cross-legged easy pose. Wrap your right elbow over your left, bend your arms and touch left fingers to (or towards) your right palm. Lift up your elbows to shoulder height, while droping the shoulders. Maintain a long spine, for 3-4 breaths and then try rounding the spine, chin towards chest, to stretch and flex your upper back. Take 5-10 breaths while in this position, then uncross your arms, reverse and repeat with left elbow on top.

Seated Twist

Remain seated in the easy pose and relax returning to a “neutral” spine, then place your left hand onto your right knee. Reach your right arm high into the air while inhaling, and focus on keeping the spine extended, exhale and begin to turn your chest, right shoulder and head to the right. Slowly circle your right arm behind you with your fingertips down. During each inhale maintain the length of your torso, and while exhaling you’ll be able to gently “spiral” through the heart and neck as you stretch, flex, tone and spark your energy level.

Take 5-10 breaths, reverse and repeat.

Fists Forward Bend

Following your seated twist, swing your legs off the bed and slowly stand up with slightly bent (not locked) knees. Make fists and place them in the opposite elbows (bent elbows and closed fists trigger your body to automatically release tension in the back muscles). Fold over your bent legs, and totally relax your back, shoulders and head. Breathe deeply here, feeling any unwanted tension being released and draining into the floor. Note: This is a great pose to do at work, or anytime you’re feeling an energy crash and you need a boost! Remain in this pose for one minute, and then slowly roll to standing, reaching overhead for a full body, stretching inhalation or two. You should now be ready for your morning practice or workout, or to just go start your day.

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