We all envy morning people, those lucky individuals who can open their eyes when their alarm goes off and happily jump out of bed and start their day. For the rest of us, mornings are often our least favorite part of the day. We drag ourselves out of bed after hitting snooze twice, grab a cup of coffee, and make our way to work in a semi-awake daze. Learn how to take back your mornings with simple stretches that help wake up your senses. These five beginner yoga poses will help you get your mind and body going and get you ready to face the day. Disclaimer: if you’ve never done yoga poses, consult with your physician before practicing these yoga stretches.
This pose is just as easy and calming as the name makes it sound. Child’s pose allows you to consciously regulate your breathing while simultaneously resting and relaxing your lower back muscles.
Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees about hip-width apart and your big toes together. Sit on your heels and exhale as you lower your torso down over your thighs. Your heart should be resting on the top of your thighs. Bring your forehead to the floor in front of your knees if you can and extend your arms forward with palms facing the ground. Relax and lower your shoulders to the floor. Let go of the tension in your arms, shoulders, neck, and back. Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
Cat-cow pose might have a funny name, but it’s a great way to stretch your back and neck after a night of tossing and turning in bed. This pose is actually a combination of the cat pose and the cow pose.
To start the cat-cow pose, place your hands and knees on the ground with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees and shins hip-width apart. Keep your hands open and press your fingertips to the mat to take some weight off of your wrists. Go into cow post by dropping your belly towards to floor as you inhale. Lift your head and chest towards the ceiling as you lower your stomach. From there, you will flow into the cat pose by pulling your core inward and rounding your back as you exhale. Cat pose looks just like a cat stretching its back. Lower your head so that the crown is facing the floor, but don’t bring your chin to your chest. Inhale as you switch back to cow pose. Repeat this process about 5-10 times in rhythmic breath.
Seated twist pose helps stretch out your hips, knees, chest, and spine. Wake up your body with deep breaths as you twist out tension from the previous day.
Sit with your legs crossed on the ground with each foot underneath the opposite knee. Align your neck, spine, and head forward. Place your right hand on your left knee. Gently twist to the left and place your left hand behind you. As you inhale, imagine your spine lengthening and sitting up straighter, with every exhale, try to twist a tiny bit more until you’re looking over your shoulder. If this hurts your neck, don’t twist your neck. Hold the about 30 seconds before coming back to center. Repeat the process on the right side with your right hand behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Twist your torso to the right as you exhale and hold the pose (but not your breath) for 30 seconds. Repeat the pose on each side twice more.
This pose will improve your balance and coordination as you steady your body and mind. Let your mind remain calm as you focus on holding your balance.
To start tree pose, stand with your arms at your side, feet forward, your big toes touching, and heels slightly apart. Focus on distributing your body weight evenly across both feet. Now, adjust your weight to your left foot as you bend your right knee. Grab your right ankle with your hand and bring your foot to rest on the inside of your left thigh. If you cannot bring your knee all the way above your left knee, leave it below on your shin. Adjust your hips so both are aligned forward. Once you’ve found your balance, raise both arms over your head straight up. Do not lock your standing leg knee. Gaze straight ahead on a steady object to maintain your balance. Lower your left leg back to the floor. Adjust your body weight to your right foot and repeat the process with your left foot on your right thigh. Hold each side for 30 seconds. If you have trouble balancing, you can do this pose with your back against a wall.
Standing forward fold
Forward fold is a great way to stretch out your calves, hamstrings, thighs, and back. The pose should be comfortable as it gently stretches your body, so don’t force yourself past your limit for a deeper stretch.
Start in the same position as tree pose with your feet forward and hands by your sides. Slowly bend your body at the hips forward. Lower your head so that the crown is facing the floor. Make sure you do not lock your knees as you bend forward. Keep your back flat and slightly lift and stretch further down as you inhale and exhale. If your back feels especially tight, you can bend your knees to prevent arching your back and keep the fold from your hips. If it’s difficult for you to stay balanced in this position, spread your feet so they are hip-distance apart. Release the pose by placing your hands on your hips, keep your back flat, and slowly raise up as you inhale. Repeat the pose five times.
Take an extra 15 minutes each morning to stretch out your body and get your blood pumping with these poses. You’ll leave the house ready to face the world each morning.