Rise and Shine…

Not a morning person? Energizing poses give your day a bright start.

If you wake up slowly and groggily in the morning, a short yoga practice can jump-start your day. “I tell my students that yoga is a natural stimulant,” says Lisa Black (owner of Shakti East and Shakti West in WA). “Yoga gets you going to a place where you feel really alive and awake, in a natural way.”

Indeed, a short yoga practice first thing in the morning can reverse the effects of lying supine for hours by awakening the spine, activating the breath, increasing circulation, and flushing the body with oxygen.

To get the full invigorating benefits of a morning practice, try to wake up at sunrise, which, according to Ayurveda, will give you optimal energy. Ayurvedic traditions also advise drinking a glass of water with lemon in the morning to activate your digestion. After practicing, sit for a few moments of meditation, and you’ll begin your day feeling calm and grounded.

Beyond its stimulating physical benefits, a morning yoga practice can set your mood for the day. Instead of dragging yourself up, you can go forth feeling happy and ready to face what comes.

Get Energized with these five simple poses:

Urdhva Hastasana (upward salute). Standing with your feet together, feel the ground strong beneath you and reach your arms up to the sky. Keep your shoulders relaxed , gaze up at your hands if you neck feels okay with it. Breathe deeply. *This pose stretches the front body*

Uttanasana (standing forward bend). From the raised arms position dive forward into a forward bend. You may keep your legs straight and hang forward by holding your elbows or you can take your hands to the floor. Move around if you need, bending one knee at a time or anything else that feels good. Breathe deeply. *Forward bending brings blood to the brain*

Adho Mukha Svansana (downward facing dog). From your forward fold, step back into a plank position then lift your hips toward the sky creating an upside down “V”. Reach your heels toward the floor, lengthening the backs of your legs and keep your hands firmly planted on the floor. Move around as your body needs. You may want to bend one knee at a time and stretch the opposite leg. Also, practice bending both knees, letting your heels come off the ground, and straighten your spine. Expand your ribs out to the side with your deep breaths! *Downward dog enlivens your limbs and spine*

Adho Mukha Svanasana, variation (Three-legged Dog Pose with hip open). From your downward dog, lift your left leg to the sky, bend the left knee and let the foot drop over to your right side. This will open your hips and also stretch the right leg. Repeat on the other side. Still breathing deeply! *Three-legged Dog stretches the hips*

Anjaneyasana (low lunge). From your Three-legged Down Dog, bring the foot that is in the air all the way through to a runners lunge. Drop the back knee and sit forward in the hip. This is a great hip stretch. Make sure your foot that is in front is planted flat on the floor (do not let the heel pop up), if you heel comes up walk the foot farther out so that your knee is stacked directly over your heel. Repeat on the other side. Breathing deeply! *Low lunge opens the heart*

*Repeat this sequence 3 times. If time allows, follow with several Sun Salutations.

Breathing deeply brings in the optimal amount of oxygen to wake up your muscles and organs in the morning. According to Ayurvedic tradition, it also awakens prana (life force) which makes you energetic!

And of course, if you need a little extra push to practice in the morning, find a local early morning class! If you’re in the Birmingham area, check out my 6am class at Bailey Dance.

Peace,

Reference: Yoga Journal 2010

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