Do you find it hard to get up in the morning and start the day? Does it get even harder as the days turn colder? Yeah, we’ve been there too so we found something that helps: turn up the heat this winter with this simple morning yoga routine.
1.Warm Up the Spine
Starting it off with a simple, but effective warm-up as our body’s naturally pretty stiff when we wake up. Warming it up increases the blood flow into our muscles, lubricates our joints and elevates our heart rate and body temperature. Come into a table-top position where your hands are right under your shoulders, and your knees right under your hips. Activate your core muscles to elongate and protect your spine, trying to be as ‘flat as a table’ (hence the name for the pose). Use the following inhale to curve your spine into a U shape and gaze up towards the sky, and then use your exhale to curve the other way, make a dome with your upper spine and gaze towards your belly button (also known as cat and cow poses). Repeat this cycle 3-5 times and feel your spine muscles heating up and getting looser with each move you make.
2.Warm Up the Legs
From your table-top position, lift your hips up and stretch the legs getting into an inverted V shape with your body, feeling your heels reaching towards the floor. They don’t have to touch the floor, but you always want to feel them ‘reaching’ as that will create the active stretch we’re looking for. Bend one knee to stretch the opposite leg, and then repeat on the other side. Keep on alternating the bending and stretching, almost as if you were walking in place. Feel free to move your hips around and do any movements that feel good. The goal is to warm up the legs and prepare them for the day ahead.
3.Use The Force of Gravity
The inverted V shape you’re in is called a ‘Downward Facing Dog’ and it’s one of the best spine elongating poses; that’s why you’ll encounter it many times throughout all kinds of yoga classes whenever you attend them. Inhale and gaze forward, bend your knees and on the next exhale gently step in between the palms of you hands. Separate your feet to hip wide distance and let your upper body hang, allowing gravity to stretch out your spine and your legs. You can grab your elbows and gently sway side to side or simply let them fall towards the floor. Your legs can be straight or bent, depending on your level of flexibility. This should feel good, and you shouldn’t feel any pain. Bring your feet together again and inhale gazing forward with a straight spine, exhale into a deeper forward fold. Use the next couple of breath cycles to slowly roll yourself up to standing, taking as much time as you need.
Inhale your arms over your head and exhale all the way into your forward fold, maintaining a straight spine. Inhale and gaze forward, exhale and step back, keeping your palms where they are, coming into a plank pose. Stay here for 3-5 breath cycles, feeling your core fire up and get stronger. If getting into the half-push up (chaturanga) is in your practice, feel free to lower yourself on your last exhale, but if not, modify by placing the knees on the floor. Inhale by pushing your hips forward, opening your heart and gazing up, coming into a pose known as Upward Facing Dog. Exhale by pushing your hips up and getting back into that inverted V shape, or Downward Facing Dog. Stay here for 3-5 breaths (stay still or alternate between bending one knee and then the other), and on the last inhale gaze forward, bend your knees and exhale by stepping in between your palms. Inhale and gaze up, exhale into a deeper forward fold. Next inhale brings you all the way back to standing. This flow you just completed is called a Vinyasa Sun Salutation A. Its purpose is to warm up the body and get all the juices flowing. You can repeat it 3-5, or even more times, feeling yourself getting warmer and your poses getting deeper every time around.
Nothing better than an ab blaster to turn up the heat in these soon-to-be really cold mornings. Come to a plank position and first just hold the pose. You’ve been here before, so you know how it feels: use that to get better with every inhale and exhale. Lower one elbow to the floor, and then the other. Prop yourself back up to one palm and then the other. Repeat this combination 10-12 times and find a good tempo without losing your breath. When you’re done, come back to a plank, place one hand in center and slowly turn your body sideways, stacking your legs on top of one another and using your obliques to hold you in your side plank. Breathe here and really use that mind-to-muscle connection to activate your whole side body. After 5 breaths, come back to center and repeat on the other side.
Come into a seated position and bring your knees into your chest. Straighten your left leg and cross the right over it, keeping the knee bent and close to your body. Grab your right knee with your left hand and place your right palm behind your seat, using it as leverage to prop yourself up and keep your spine straight. Inhale here and exhale into a twist, gently turning your head towards the back. Stay for a couple pf breaths and slowly return to center, before repeating it all on the other side.
This simple flow will definitely warm you up and get you prepared for the day ahead, and as the days get colder, our bodies need more time to wake up and start functioning properly. Winter is coming, but with this routine, you’ll be ready for it.