Waking up after a long nights sleep, we will often feel stiff and sore. What better way to ease out these kinks than practicing some yoga poses that will ease us into the day, gradually wake up mind and body and smooth out any kinks from a night lying down.
In fact incorporating yoga into our morning routines can lead to a happier and more productive day.
Here are 9 yoga poses that are perfect for adding to your morning session.
Cat Pose – Marjaryasana
Description: Start on your hands and knees, hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Keep your fingers facing forward and hands, shoulder width apart. While exhaling, round your spine upwards towards the ceiling and drop your head, tightening your abdominals in towards your spine. Inhale and uncurl your spine, remaining on your hands and knees.
Benefits: Stretches out your abdominals, spine, neck and chest.
Common postural errors: Arching the lower back. Tips:Draw your shoulders away from your neck to keep the curve at the centre/top of your back.
Cow Pose – Bitilasana
Description: After exiting Cat Pose, on your next inhalation arch your spine, lifting your chest and sit bones towards the ceiling , keeping your head straight and gazing forward. Exhale and return to a neutral position.
Repeat the Cat into Cow poses 10-20 times.
Benefits: Stretches out your abdominals, spine, neck and chest.
Common postural errors: Jutting your rib cage out. Tips: Focus on raising hi bones and keep your gaze forward, neck lengthened.
Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
Description: From a prone position, place your palms under your shoulders and legs flat to the floor. On inhalation slowly raise your chest up, bending backwards as much as possible and hold for 10-15 seconds. On exhalation bring your body back down to the prone position. Repeat 5 times, taking a 15 second break between each hold.
Benefits: Strengthen the spine, stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, firms the buttocks, and relieves stress and fatigue.
Common postural errors: Overarching the neck and lower back. Tips: Keep your gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Description: Start by lying in a prone position on the floor. Bend your elbows and place your hands directly beneath the, flat to the floor on either side of you. Separate your legs slightly, extending your toes backwards so the tops of your feet press against the floor. Inhale and push against the floor with your hands and tops of your feet, lifting your torso and hips from the floor. Contract your thighs and tailbone toward your pubis. Continue lifting until your arms are fully extended, creating an arch in your back. Push your shoulders down and lengthen your neck, gazing slightly upwards. Hold for 15-30 seconds and exhale as you lower your self back to a prone position.
Benefits: The Upward Facing Dog Pose improves your posture and strengthens your spine, arms and wrist.
Common postural errors: Raising the shoulders or dropping the thighs to the floor. Tips: Make sure your arms and legs are fully elongated to create the full extension, and drop your shoulders while lengthening your neck upwards.
Upward Salute – Urdhva Hastasana
Description: Begin in the Mountain Pose (above), inhale and swap your arms out in front of you to the height of your shoulders. Slowly raise them past your ears up towards the ceiling, palms pressed together. Spread your shoulder blades and tilt your chin backwards so you gaze at your palms, stretched towards the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, exhale and bring your hands back down to your sides, dropping your head back down to its normal level and returning to the mountain pose.
Benefits: The Upward Salute stretches and firms the back and shoulders, and aids digestion.
Common postural errors: Jutting out your rib cage. Tips: Move your armpits down when lifting your hands towards the ceiling, rather than lifting with your chest.
Standing Forward Bend – Uttanasana
Description: From the Mountain Pose, exhale and bend forward from your hips, sweeping your arms to the sides, with your palms facing the floor. While lowering your torso, keep your back flat and tuck in your abdominal muscles to lengthen your spine. Keep folding your torso forwards until they are parallel to your legs (Or as close as you can get). Grasp the back of your ankles and contract your thighs to keep your knees as straight as possible.
With each exhalation, draw your sit bones upwards, elongating your spine and lengthening the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute before moving onto Standing Half Forward Bend.
Benefits: Stretches the spine, hips, calves and hamstrings while strengthening thighs and improving posture.
Common postural errors: Rolling the spine. Tips: If you find this difficult, then bend your knees as you bring your torso forward, and then straighten on each exhale afterwards.
3.) Awkward Pose – Utkatasana
Description: Begin in the Mountain Pose, raise your hands forwards and over your head, keeping your hands shoulder width apart or clasped, depending on your preference. Exhale and bend your knees and your upper body forward so that it is at a 45 degree angle in relation to the floor. Maintain a straight back and relax your calf muscles, allowing the weight of your upper body to sink into your pelvis instead, transferring the weight onto your heels. Inhale and straighten you knees while lifting strongly through your arms. Exhale, returning your arms to your side and returning to mountain pose.
Benefits: The Awkward Pose strengthens the lower back and quadriceps, stretching the shoulders, arms and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Having an arched back. Tips: Try to keep your back as straight as possible by performing the lowering motion with your thighs, knees and hips.
Low Lunge Pose – Anjeneyasana
Description: Step your right foot forwards, aligning your right knee over your heel. Then lower your left knee to the floor, making sure you keep your right knee steady and in the same place. Slide your left foot back along the floor until you can feel a comfortable stretch in your thigh and groin, resting the top of your left foot against the floor. Lift your torso upright while inhaling, sweeping your arms up by your sides until they point at the ceiling. Push your tailbone down toward the floor and lift your pubis up. Tilt your head and gaze upward while reaching toward the ceiling, and hold for 1 minute before moving into the plank pose.
Benefits: The low lunge pose tones hips, arms and shoulders while stretching knees tendons and ligaments.
Common postural errors: The knee leans to one side rather than being straight. Tips: If your lowered knee is uncomfortable, place a folded blanket underneath it.
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Description: From Upward Facing Dog, kneel on your hands and knees with your knees directly below your hips. Stretch your hands out slightly in front of your shoulders with your fingertips facing forward and hands should-width apart. Exhale and press against the floor keeping your elbows straight. Lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling and your knees away from the floor, lengthening your hips away from your ribs and elongating your spine. Press your heels against the floor, contract your thighs and try straightening your knees. Turn your thighs slightly inward and broaden your chest and shoulders. You should position your head in between your arms. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Benefits: The Downward Facing Dog Pose strengthens your arms and legs, while stretching shoulders, calves and hamstrings.
Common postural errors: Sinking shoulders down into spine. Tips: Focus on contracting your thighs and lengthening spine to stop shoulders from sinking.