There are so many wonderful benefits to moving your body in the morning and taking time to get centered before you start your day. Incorporating a morning yoga practice into your day can really set you up for success in many ways. Morning yoga routines can take on many forms, from moving and stretching to simply breathing and finding stillness. Let’s explore five reasons why practicing yoga in the morning is good for you and then take a look at some simple stretches to get you started.
1) Morning yoga improves focus.
Taking time to breathe and get focused before your day is my #1 reason to practice yoga in the morning. We live in a fast-paced society where being busy is a badge of honor. If you have children or a demanding job, you know that the hustle and bustle of the day can begin immediately upon waking and you’re thrust into the chaos. Yoga helps still and calm the mind by synchronizing your breath with movement. Practicing morning yoga will help you have better focus and get full control of your day. Tip: Try not to look at any devices until after you’ve finished your morning yoga session.
2) Morning yoga will increase your flexibility.
Doing simple stretches in the morning will not only feel good but will also help you gain flexibility and range of motion in your neck, back, hips, and other joints. Morning yoga will also help elongate muscles, release stress, and improve your overall range of motion. If you wake up stiff or sore in the morning, this will really shift the way you feel throughout the day. If you’re currently working with your AlignLife Chiropractor, you will find an extra benefit to doing yoga in the morning as you will arrive at your appointment more pliable which can lead to greater results. For more information on how yoga is an excellent complement to your chiropractic care, click here.
3) Morning yoga will boost your energy
Exercise and movement release those feel-good endorphins, so it’s no surprise that incorporating yoga into your morning routine will give you a boost of energy that you can’t get from a cup of coffee. Moving your body involves—by default—cell movement and cell oxygenation. When your cells refresh the oxygen that runs through and between them, your whole body reinvigorates, too. By bringing your head, arms, and legs where they don’t normally spend the rest of the day, you will find this to be an energetic way to kick start your day. You’ll also feel fresher, lighter, and more awake!
4) Morning yoga tones your body.
Yoga can be a full-body workout and a great way to tone your muscles. Practicing regularly will not add muscle mass like lifting weights. It’s not as intense as many other workouts, but it will build strength, flexibility, and definition.
5) Yoga sets you up for success.
A quick search on the internet will quickly show you that many of the world’s most successful people have an established morning routine and many practice yoga. Yoga is a powerful routine to incorporate because it not only focuses on your physical health but your mental health as well.
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8 Feel Good Morning Yoga Stretches
To get your own morning yoga practice started, begin by exploring these foundational and simple stretches.
1) Seated Pose
Begin your practice in a comfortable seated position with legs crossed. Place your palms on your knees, sit up nice and tall, and close your eyes. Take a few slow and deep breaths while setting an intention for your day. This could range from being more productive to more calm and focused. You can also incorporate a little gratitude practice by bringing to mind three things you are grateful for today. Try not to think too hard here. It could be as simple as the sunshine, your health, or your family.
2) Side Bending Stretch
Remain in the seated posture. Alternate placing one hand on the mat to your side and extending the other arm up and overhead for a side stretch. Send your breath into the side that is lengthened for a feel-good move.
3) Child’s Pose
Move to a tabletop position. Touch your big toes together and spread your knees as wide as your mat. Rest your belly between your thighs as you bring your forehead to touch the mat. Take a few deep breaths in this posture as it helps quiet the mind and loosen the lower back.
4) Cat Cow
Move back into your tabletop position. Make sure your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Press down through the base of your palms. As you inhale, drop your belly and lift your chin slightly (cow). As you exhale, round your back, pull your navel towards your spine, and tuck your chin towards your chest (cat). Move through these two movements for 20 seconds. This will loosen and wake up your spine. Be mindful to connect your breath with your movement.
5) Downward Facing Dog
From your hands and knees, spread your fingers wide and flip your toes onto the mat. Send your hips up and back for a downward-facing dog. A downward dog essentially looks like an upside-down V. Keep your knees bent for as long as needed. Begin to straighten your legs and send your heels towards the mat. Create a long line from your wrists to your tailbone. Feel free to peddle out your feet and then find some stillness in the pose for 20 seconds.
6) Three-Legged Dog
From the downward-facing dog shape, extend your right leg to the sky. Actively reach your heel towards the sky. Feel free to bend the lifted knee to help open up your hips and gaze under your right arm for a slight open twist. Repeat on the other side.
7) High Lunge/Warrior 1 Variation
Step your right foot forward and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle. Keep your left heel lifted for this variation. For beginners, you can place your hands on your hips. If you feel balanced, raise your arms overhead and lift your chin slightly. Take five breaths. Step your left foot to meet your right and remain in Mountain Pose before moving to the second side.
8) Forward Fold
Inhale arms overhead and slowly hinge at the hips and fold forward. Feel free to keep your knees bent and your chest rested on the tops of your thighs. Take a few breaths here. Graciously bend your knees before slowly rolling up to standing.
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Establishing Your Morning Yoga Routine
After you’ve completed the eight stretches listed above, you can explore other feel-good movements or simply return to a seated posture to spend a few more moments meditating and focusing on the day ahead. You can also try incorporating a few rounds of Sun Salutations once you feel established with these postures. Learn more about Sun Salutations here.
Establishing a consistent morning yoga routine that involves yoga offers many health benefits. However, one of my favorite reasons for making it a daily habit is that it helps you wake up and feel ready to take on the day no matter what challenges come your way. Try adding this to your morning routine and take note of the difference you feel after just a few weeks as well as how it helps you maintain your chiropractic adjustments between appointments!