Rise and shine: The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Morning Asanas for More Energy
The English proverb “The early bird catches the worm” may have been referring to people that prepare in advance, but it is also true in a literal sense.
Studies show that “morning” people are healthier, happier, and more productive. A morning person has no trouble hopping out of bed before 7 am and facing the day with a smile. If you are among the snooze-hitting tribe and drag yourself grumpily out of bed in the morning, there is an easy solution.
While you can do yoga at any time of the day, there are specific asanas (literally meaning, “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed”) that can turn the clock around for you. If you are like most night owls, your body probably feels heavy and aches all over.
These asanas will wake up your body, lighten your mood, and give you the energy you need to get through the day with more grace.
1. Crossed legs posture (Sukhasana)
This is probably the easiest, and most familiar, pose in yoga.
Sitting with your back straight, pelvis in a neutral position, and bring up your knees on either side of the body, tucking your feet under the opposite leg. You should see a triangular space between your legs and pelvis. Rest your hands on your knees. Do the Dirga or yogic breath for three to five minutes.
2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Witold Fitz-Simon – Picture source!
Exhale, and as you do so, straighten up, arms on your sides in a relaxed position.
Repeat the sequence; only substitute the right leg for the left leg. Do at least one full cycle of the sun salutations every morning, more if you have the time. This works all seven major centers (chakras) of the body, so you should be rearing to go (and hungry) when you’re done!
3. Hand to Foot pose (Hasta Padasana)
As you exhale, bring the arms and body forward, aiming to bring the palms flat on the floor on either side of your feet and your face to your knees. You may bend your knees a little to get your palms to the floor, as you will need them there for support for the next steps.
4. Prayer pose (Pranamasana)
Stand with your feet together, shoulders relaxed. Breathe in to expand your chest, and as you do so, bring up your arms to your sides. Breathe out slowly, and as you do so, bring your hands together as if in prayer.
5. Raised Arms pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
As you inhale, bring your hands up straight above your head and reach up as far as you can go, looking up and curving your body slightly to get the full stretch. The aim is to get the maximum stretch from the heel to the fingertips.
6. Sun salutations (Surya Namaskar)
It is time to get out of bed (if you haven’t already) and say hello to the day. Salutes to the sun are a sequence of 12 poses that wakes up the body and fills it with energy. It is important to observe the breathing directions as you do each one. It will take a little practice, but you will soon get into the swing of it.
7. Two-knee spinal twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Lying flat on your back, arms stretched on either side, bring both knees to one side. Slowly extend the inner leg out while keeping your upper back flat on the surface. Hold this for a few second, then draw your knees back together. Go to the other side and do the same thing.
Do the whole sequence two or three more times. This will stretch and relax your spine, chest, shoulders and thighs, and ease muscle pain. It also wakes up your internal organs, including your abdominals for better digestion.
8. Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lying flat on your back, bring your knees up, feet together. Let your thighs open naturally, and relax. You can use pillows or foam blocks to support your knees. This will help you avoid putting too much strain on your back and inner thighs. Now comes the important part – breathing.
Use the Three-Part Breath or Dirgha. This is one of the foundations of yogic breathing, and you have to practice it consciously. You will inhale air to fill your lung, lower chest (diaphragm), and abdomen to capacity in that order, hold it, and then exhale in reverse order: abdomen, chest, lungs.
Do these several times, with the inhale count at four, and exhale count at six. This will decrease your levels of stress and anxiety, although it may make you feel a little lightheaded at first from all the oxygen you’re getting. Don’t worry, you will get used to it. Do this for three to five minutes.
These simple morning yoga exercises are suitable even for beginners. More importantly, they will definitely help night owls get the energy they need for the day. Try them out and share your experience with us!