You may be wondering how to develop a morning yoga practice if you aren’t a morning person. We’ve mentioned it in the past, and we will say it again—baby steps are the answer! Rather than setting your alarm clock 90 minutes earlier than usual, start by taking baby steps. Set yourself up for success by setting attainable goals. Perhaps a 5:30 am wake-up time will never fit your lifestyle, but a 6:30 am wake-up time may be palatable and sustainable. Even thirty minutes is enough time to set a daily intention, take a few deep breaths, stretch the body, raise the heart rate, and start each morning feeling peaceful and accomplished.
A few rounds of sun salutations, a series of core-strengthening exercises, and a number of warrior poses that fire up the leg muscles are a great way to stretch the body and break a sweat in a short period of time. Try each of the strengthening poses below, and once you are familiar with each of the poses and can hold each pose for five full breaths, repeat the sequence at a faster pace. Remember to practice the sequence on both sides of the body.
Down dogAlthough it’s often called a “resting pose”, the entire body remains active in downward facing dog—Fingers grip the mat, biceps roll forward, shoulder blades move down the back, quadriceps pull up and away from the knees, and the core is engaged.
3-legged dogFor the most effective hamstring stretch, flex your top foot, and make an effort to keep all five toes of your lifted leg pointing down toward the ground. If you find your toes pointing to the side, lower your raised leg, and focus on keeping both hips equidistant from the mat.
Core ExerciseThis effective exercise will strengthen the core without the need for a single sit-up or crunch. From 3-legged dog, bring the right knee to the right tricep, and round the upper back. Return to 3-legged dog. Repeat this exercise by bringing the knee to the nose, back up to 3-legged dog, and then across the body to the left tricep. Complete the core sequence by ending in 3-legged dog.
Warrior 1From 3-legged dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Rise up to Warrior 1. This fundamental yoga pose is accessible to yogis of all levels. Adjust the level of difficulty to suit your needs. Build up the strength to be able to hold this pose with a 90-degree angle in the front leg. And build up the flexibility so that both hip points are turned to face the front of the mat.
Warrior 2With the hips facing the side of the yoga mat (rather than the front), most students find the alignment of Warrior 2 to be a bit easier than Warrior 1. Remember to breathe deeply, keep the core engaged, and resist the urge to lean toward the front of the mat. Keep your shoulders stacked right over the hips.
Reverse WarriorContinue to strengthen your legs in a warrior pose, but add a side stretch to loosen up the intercostal muscles that run between the ribs.
Modified Side Angle PoseEnjoy the benefits of a feel-good side stretch in this modified version of side angle pose. While the full expression of the pose bring the fingertips to the floor, this less intense modification allows the forearm to rest on the front thigh.
Triangle PoseTriangle pose will feel like a welcome relief after holding so many poses that require a 90-degree angle in the front leg. Enjoy the stretch.
If you would like to practice with us and try our full 20-minute Good Morning Flow, CLICK HERE!