According to the ancient yogis, the early hours of the morning are a sacred time of day. In those hours, the earth’s energy is full of possibility for the coming day. An early morning yoga practice is said to help harness that energy.
In practical terms, practicing yoga first thing in the morning is a great way to begin your day. Meditation and breath work can provide you with focus for the day, whereas yoga postures can energize you and lead to overall health and fitness.
Benefits: Stretches abs and back; keeps spine flexible
Helps: Stiff back, breath-movement coordination
- Begin on all fours, shoulders directly over your wrists and hips directly over your knees.
- As you inhale, tilt your sit bones up toward the ceiling, reach your chest through your upper arms, and arch your back into cow pose (bitilasana).
- As you exhale, tuck your chin in toward your chest, point your tailbone down between your knees, and round your back into cat pose (marjaryasana).
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 six times, increasing your range of motion with each repetition.
Benefits: Stronger hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon
Helps: Elongated shoulders and shoulder blade area
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.
Warrior One Pose
Benefits: knee muscles strengthen
- Start in Mountain pose and step our left foot 3-4 feet in front of you.
- Move forward to your back leg becomes straight and front leg is bent
- Make sure your head, shoulders, hips and knees are pointed forward
- Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, palms facing each other and fingers pointed to the sky.
- Relax your shoulders down away from your ears
- Point the top of your head to the sky and gaze softly straight ahead
- Hold for about 15 seconds to 1 minute.
- To come out of the pose exhale as you lower your arms to your sides then return to mountain pose.
Warrior Two Pose
Benefits: Strengthens legs; stretches groins, chest, shoulders
Helps: Endurance, weariness, self-confidence, a scattered mind, imbalanced spirit
- Stand tall with your feet together and arms by your sides in mountain pose (tadasana).
- Step your legs about 4 feet apart and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. Then turn your left foot and leg out 90 degrees to the left, lining the heel of your left foot up with the arch of your right foot.
- Inhale, and as you exhale bend your left knee, forming a right angle with your left thigh and shin. Stack your knee directly above your ankle in line with your second toe. (Hint: Lining your front knee up with your second toe and bringing your thigh parallel to the floor protects your knee and strengthens the muscles around it.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears and turn your head to gaze out over your left hand. Reach through your arms, feeling a line of energy from the tips of your right fingers through the tips of your left. Relax your jaw. Hold for 3 to 10 slow, deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, turn your head back to face forward, straighten your left leg, and rotate it back, bringing your feet to parallel.
- Turn your right leg out 90 degrees to switch sides and repeat.
Extended Side Angle Pose
Benefits: Strengthens your thighs, hips, knees, and ankles.
Helps: Increases endurance and stamina.
- Begin on your mat in Downward Facing Dog pose. Step your right foot forward between your hands, and rise up into Warrior 1.
- Now open your hips, arms, and chest into Warrior 2 pose.
- Place your right hand on the ground behind your right foot (on the little toe side). If your hips are tight, place your hand on a block. Extend your left arm straight up, turning your palm down so your thumb is pointing behind you. This will help intensify the stretch in your chest and shoulder.
- Stay here for five breaths, then come back to Down Dog. Then try this pose on the left side.
Benefits: Develops awareness, balance, concentration, and poise
Helps: Strengthens entire leg, ankles and feet
- Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) for as long as it takes to gain a sense of balance and grounding through the legs. Find a place to focus your gaze upon, without straining the eyes. Keep your focus and breath steady as you continue.
- Shift your weight onto the left leg. Slowly bend your right leg, and place the soul of the foot onto the inner side of the standing leg. You can place the foot on the inside of the ankle, calf or thigh. The important aspect of this pose is balance not where your foot rests. To reach the inner thigh, guide your foot upward with your hand. Press the foot into the thigh to keep from slipping.
- Press through the foot of the standing leg, and as you breath to lengthen your torso up. Bring your hands together in front of your chest into Namaste (universal prayer position). Allow the breath to flow naturally. If you feel stable, slowly raise your hands into the air above your head and lengthen the spine upward.
- Concentration is key; hold for as long as you feel comfortable. When you are ready to release, bring your foot back down to the ground in a smooth flowing movement. Alternate sides and repeat. Notice if are more or less stable on this side.
Benefits: creates maximum compression on spine, improves flexibility of neck.
- Sit up on the knees with the heels of the feet pressed against the buttocks and the calves of the legs flat on the floor.
- Reaching backward, grasp the left ankle with the left hand and right ankle with the right hand.
- Inhale through the nostrils and lift the buttocks off the legs arching the back and thrusting the abdomen forward and tilt the head as far back as possible.
- Either hold the posture for the duration of the inhale breath or breath gently through the nostrils while holding the posture.
- Exhale and return to the kneeling position.
Benefits: Stretches outer hips; keeps spine flexible
Helps: Adaptation to change, back pain, range of motion in the shoulders, stiffness in the hips, constipation, diarrhea, gas
- Sit with your knees bent and shins stacked in front of you in square pose (agnistambhasana): top of right foot on left knee, right knee on left foot.
- Using your hands, move your right leg and place the sole of your right foot on the floor next to your left knee, right toes facing straight ahead. Move your left foot back, bringing the left heel next to your right hip.
- Inhale and extend your left arm up. Bend it and place your elbow and upper arm on the right side of your right knee. Place right hand behind you, fingertips pointing back.
- Exhale as you press your left elbow and upper arm into your right knee and twist your torso toward the wall behind you. Place your left hand on the outside of your right hip.
- Inhale and lengthen the front of your spine. Then as you exhale, twist a little deeper.
- To come out of the twist, exhale as you turn your torso back to face forward.
- Switch sides and repeat.