Starting the day with yoga paves the way for an energised, grounded day ahead of you!
At an absolute minimum I like to spend 1 minute in the morning doing deep, yogic breathing to open up my lungs, stretch my neck and get my blood oxygen pumping.
As much as possible I follow this breathing warm-up with some poses to stretch my body and increase blood-flow to all my limbs. You can spend as little as 10 minutes doing these exercises, or hold the poses for longer to achieve even better results. During each pose I focus on my breathing – in and out slowly and evenly through the nose.
Here are some typical poses I do, although I do change it up from time to time and add in more poses if I have a bigger block of time.
HALF MOON POSE
Half moon pose stretches and opens the sides of the body and improves core strength and balance.
Start with your feet together and arms stretched above your head with palms together or fingers interlaced and pointing upwards. Inhale as you stretch upward and engage your core while keeping your feet flat on the floor, then exhale as you bend to one side. Hold the position for several breaths then repeat on the other side.
Wind-removing pose massages your intestines and stomach, aiding digestion and nutrient absorption while also stimulating your bowels to prevent constipation.
Lay on your back on the floor and bring one knee up toward your chest. Keep your shoulders and buttocks firmly on the floor and use your arms to pull your knee down against your stomach, which constricts the intestines temporarily on that side. Hold the position for several breaths then lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat with the other leg and finally do both legs together.
FIXED FIRM POSE
Fixed firm pose relieves lower back pain, improves circulation to the knees and hips, tones your thighs and calf muscles and strengthens your back, ankles and knees while lengthening your abdominal muscles.
Start seated on the floor between your feet with your legs folded under and your ankles against the side of your buttocks and hips. This pose works best if you can keep your knees together, but if this is painful you can separate them slightly. Lower your body backwards first to your elbows and then to the floor. Fold your arms above your head with your chin tucked into your neck and your eyes looking down your middle. With your shoulders and buttocks pressed firmly into the floor, stretch your back upward, imagining it curving like a bridge. Hold for several breaths and release.
Camel pose is a deep back-bend that strengthens your spine, opens your chest, shoulders and quadriceps and boosts your energy.
Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Inhale to engage your core and open your chest, then exhale slowly as you lower each hand to the soles of your feet. Push your chest and stomach forward while you hold onto your feet and hold for a few breaths. To come out of the pose, bring each hand back to your hips and bring your body back up from your core then chest and finally neck and head.
This forward-bend is a relaxing pose that increases blood circulation to your brain, aids digestion and tones your abdomen, thighs and triceps.
Sit on your heels with your legs tucked underneath you and your arms stretched above your head with your palms together. Inhale to engage your core and stretch upward, then exhale slowly as you bend forward and lower your hands to the floor in front of you. Keep your buttocks on your heels, your chin forward and neck open, focusing your eyes on the floor in front of you. Hold for several breaths then come up slowly in reverse.
SPINE TWISTING POSE
Spine-twisting pose improves elasticity and flexibility of your whole spine from top to bottom and improves circulation to the spinal nerves. It also aids digestion and relieves constipation, firms your buttocks, abdomen and thighs.
Sit with your feet and knees in front of you, then lower your left knee to the floor placing your left heel against your right buttock. Place your right foot on the outside of your left knee in front of you. Inhale to engage your core and stretch upward, then twist to the right touching the tips of your left fingers to the floor with your palm facing outward and your left elbow against the outside of your right knee. Reach your right arm around behind you and hold onto your upper left thigh. Hold this pose for a few slow breaths, continually stretching upward and twisting and keeping both buttocks on the floor. Return to the starting position and switch sides.