A common question I get a lot as a yoga instructor is: "What's a good/short/easy routine that I can do first thing in the morning to help me feel better, relieve back pain, and loosen up?" The following 5 poses fit all of those categories, and they can be done in just a few minutes.
For starters, beginning with a couple rounds of the Sun Salutations sequence (Surya Namaskar) is always nice, since it moves all of the major joints and muscles in the body. Upon waking up, most of us are pretty stiff, so Sun Salutations are a nice way to get moving. However, if you aren’t familiar with the sequence of Sun Salutations / Surya Namaskar, then that might seem a little complicated until you get the hang of it. If that’s the case, I’d suggest the following 5 poses instead…
Watch my video and follow along for how-to instructions for a few mornings, then hopefully you'll be able to do it on your own and really dig in to this short sequence. Stay in each pose for as long as you'd like and make it your own depending on how you feel that day and how much time you have.
I've also listed the sequence below, so you can refer to them quickly, and I've included descriptions for a little more information on what we're accomplishing...
Fast/Short/Easy Morning Yoga Sequence:
1. Roll out of bed.
2. Always, always, always establish your breath first. Have a few deep breaths, think a grateful thought or set an intention for your day. Don't skip this step. :)
3. Cat / Cow Poses
Inhale into Cow Pose, exhale into Cat pose, flowing back and forth for a bit.
This is GREAT for the morning-time because it’s very gentle on the spine and the discs. The spinal discs tend to fill up with spinal fluid when you lie flat for a period of time, which is why it’s best to avoid anything too strenuous with your spine first thing in the morning (in order to avoid a disc injury... no one has time for that! Am I right!?). By moving very gently through Cat and Cow, you bring stimulation and healthy, gentle, mindful movement to your entire spine. Start by moving very gently, and as you keep breathing and moving, you’ll be able to gradually increase your mobility in a safe way. Do this as long as you need to until your spine and back muscles feel better.
4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
If your hamstrings are stiff in the morning, bend yours knees slightly. Take it easy! Alternate pressing one heel down at a time to gently bring movement to the ankles and feet, and a slight stretch to the calves. Ultimately we are going for a strong lengthening of the spine.
Strengthen the core and start your day off strong with a Plank! You can time it or just count your breaths to measure it. An accessible timer is your phone, BUT I have a rule that I don't look at my phone until after my morning routine is over, because as soon as I look at my phone, I'm already distracted. But I digress, so just choose a way to measure your plank, and progress it over time.
6. Seated Gentle Spinal Twists
Inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale, gently twist. Alternate sides.
Now we're adding in some gentle twists as we get a little warmer. Flow with your breath, and remember that first thing in the morning is not a time for anything too deep, so keep it light and just twist to a comfortable range of motion, alternating sides.
7. Seated Lateral Flexion
Inhale reaching one arm up, exhale gently stretching through your side. Alternate sides.
Lastly, here we are getting a little bit of lateral flexion to round off our sequence. Now we've moved the spine (gently) through flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation, AND had a lot of neutral spine emphasis. Hopefully your back feels much, much better.
8. End with a few deep breaths, and remember your grateful thought or intention.
I hope this morning yoga session helps you have a beautiful day... do it consistently and your back will be happier.
Love & Light!
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Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
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