I don’t know about you but these dark mornings are not my favourite time of the year! All I want to do is to hibernate in bed with the duvet pulled up over my head when I know I have to get up and start the day.
My preference has always been for yoga in the morning as I know it helps me to stretch and to wake up, but even that is feeling a bit of a challenge some mornings this month. For that reason I decided to bite the bullet and not only create some energizing yoga sequences but also to run a class weekly at 8am on a Tuesday….. I must be mad! However, if the thought of a class sends you burrowing deeper into your duvet, here are some poses that I really recommend to wake you up and get you going in the mornings.
Many of us sleep in a rounded or fetal position with our spine and hips rounded. It’s a nurturing position that is calming and introspective and which allows us to relax deeply as we sleep. As a contrast to this, backbends stretch and extend the spine and hips, opening the heart and creating space and energy in your body. They are great for warming up all the muscles and joints of the body. These are also really good for squeezing and compressing the thyroid and the thymus in the throat, as well as helping to ensure that the lymph nodes are draining and operating as well as they can. Given everything that is going on with Covid, I always think that doing poses like these that stimulate the thymus or help to drain the lymphatic system can only be good as the more we can do to support our immunity the better!
I hope you enjoy these poses and find that you feel awake and ready for the day ahead!
Just one note though, if you have any shoulder issues I’d skip this sequence and I’ll post another one later this week focusing more on sitting and incorporating twists to wring out the digestive system and help improve circulation and detoxification.
Hold each pose for 5 - 10 breaths before moving on to the next one to give yourself time to wake up and for your body to warm.
If you want you can run through the sequence again or if you can take more time in some poses; just listen to your body and do what feels right for you.
Start in child’s pose with your knees wide and your arms extended along your legs with the palms facing up. Take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose.
Spread your fingers wide and press firmly and evenly through your hands, press down with both hands into the mat. This will help to protect your wrists by keeping them stable.
Then push through your hands tuck your toes under so your heels come off the floor.
Lift your knees off the mat and shift your pelvis up toward the ceiling and then back toward the wall behind you, keeping your knees bent. Instead of just lifting up, try to lift up and then back. Imagine pressing the floor down and away from your pelvis.
Now try to straighten your elbows. If you have tight shoulders this can feel difficult so don’t push yourself; only straighten as far as feels comfortable.
Rotate your arms away from your ears so your elbow creases face towards your thumbs. Feel the broadness of your upper back.
With your arms awake and aligned, shift your chest toward your legs. Feel your armpit area lengthen and your chest open. As you continue to reach your arms, your pelvis will lift further up and shift back, and your spine will lengthen, unravel, and decompress.
Release the tension in your neck; let your head hang naturally between your arms.
Try to keep your knees slightly bent, to begin with as this will allow you to release tension in your back before you try to straighten your legs and don’t worry if your heels don’t sit flat on the floor, that will come over time.
Bring yourself down onto your hands and knees with your wrists positioned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
Begin to move your spine in a rhythmic motion: With every inhalation, lift your tailbone towards the sky, drop your stomach towards the floor and then lift your chest up into cow pose.
As you exhale, push the ground away through your hands as you drop your chin towards your chest, round your back and tuck your tailbone in towards your chin into cat pose.
Repeat this 5 times.
Table Top, variation
From table-top, pull your stomach in towards your spine. Extend your right leg and left arm. Bend your right leg so that it is at a 90 degree angle and push your foot up towards the ceiling.
Reach your left arm forward and then up towards the ceiling to create a backbend. Try gazing up.
If you have the flexibility and want to go deeper, take hold of your foot with your left hand. Kick your foot into your hand as you begin to twist and open your chest into a backbend. Again, try gazing up. This pose creates heat, challenges your balance, and gently warms up your spine.
This is a good counter for the previous pose.
Lower your left arm and place your left hand on the floor.
Round your spine as you draw your right knee to your chest. Keep your pelvis low and round your upper spine toward the sky. Hug your right thigh to your chest and your right knee to your nose. Keep pressing the floor with your hands.
Return the knee to the floor and straighten your back.
Repeat the table top variation and then this pose with the left leg and right arm.
Push yourself onto your knees with your toes untucked. Make sure all 10 toes are pressing evenly into the floor.
Have your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees and feet hip distance apart.
Ensure your pelvis is neutral and stacked under your heart and above your knees.
Bring your hands to your lower back with your fingers pointing down to the floor. The tips of your fingers should be just touching the tops of your buttocks.
Lift your chest to the sky, rolling your shoulders back towards each other in the middle of your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
If you want to take it deeper, drop your hands down to your feet and left your chest upwards as you gently allow your head to drop back and hang free.
Keep pressing down with your feet and lower legs and keep lifting up with your thoracic spine and chest.
To rise, lead with your chest and start to come up. Your head should be the last part of the body to rise.
End by pushing back into childs pose and taking 5 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
All imagery used in this blog is courtesy of Yogidia (www.yogidia.com).
If you enjoyed following this morning flow, book to join us in our Tuesday zoom class to wake you up and redefine your concentration ready for the day ahead.