As the days get shorter, the mornings get a little bit darker every day. For many of us, it's that much tougher to get out of bed in the morning. Luckily, there's yoga to help get us going!
Doing yoga doesn't mean you need to commit an hour or two a day in order to call it a practice. Even 10 minutes to breathe, center, move and wiggle are enough to get your mind and body connected and moving before a long day ahead. I do yoga every morning in my kitchen! Yep, between the coffee brewing, breakfast cooking or Vitamix blending, you make the time!
Here's a short yoga sequence to to get all 6 ranges of motion of the spine moving, in less than 10 minutes. Stay in each pose for as long, or as little as you'd like; just make sure you keep the duration of time equal for both sides.
Forward Fold - Rag Doll
Come to standing, separating the feet about two fists distance. Having a soft bend in both knees, begin to fold forward, allowing the torso to melt down over your thighs and grab your elbows with opposite hands. Enjoy the work of gravity as you breath space in between the vertebrae, keeping the back of the neck long. Feel free to sway side to side, or hang in stillness. Whatever feels good here.
Plant the palms firmly on your mat, middle fingers facing forward, leaving a soft bend in the knees as you lift the hips toward the sky. The feet will be about inner hip distance apart, or the length of a yoga block, with the second toes facing in. Firm up the triceps, engaging the arms, letting the ears fall between your upper arm bones as you soften the shoulder blades down your back.
As you breath, bend into one knee, then the other; alternating sides, pedaling out the legs to get some movement going into the lower body, while keeping the length in your spine.
From your downward facing dog, on an inhale lift your right leg up. Keeping the shoulders level, bend into the knee as you open the hips towards the right. Continue to lower the left heel down towards the mat, lengthening the back of the left leg.
Low Lunge - Side Bend
From your 3-legged dog, draw the knee in toward your nose, using the core to mindfully step the right foot between your hands. Untuck the back toes, firming the tops of all five toes into the mat. Allow the right hand to come down to the floor in line with your right hip, either on a block or tenting the fingers tips. Inhale as you lift your left arm over head, side bending towards the right. Keep the shoulders in line with one another, allowing the chest to broaden. Continue to add length to both sides of the ribs, as you breath into all the little spaces between the left ribs.
Release both hands back down to the mat, tucking the back toes under and step the right leg back into a 3-legged dog (see #4).
Low Lunge - Back Bend
Once again, draw the right knee in toward the nose to step the right foot between the hands. Lowering the left knee down towards the mat, untuck the toes, and this time extend both arms overhead. Draw the ribs as far as you can away from the hips, lengthening both sides of the torso and the ribs. With each inhale, lift the sternum a little higher, and with each exhale find softness between the shoulder blades. Migrate all of the energy out of the lower back and into the upper back as you breath.
Release the hands back down to the mat, stepping the right foot back into your downward facing dog. Repeat poses 2 through 5 for the left leg.
From downward dog, step or hop to your hands. With the big toes touching, and a thumbs' space between the heels, bend the knees, sink the hips and extend the arms skyward. Yay! Chair pose! It's not my favorite either, but it warms up your quads like nobody's business. For a twist, the palms press together at heart center, and begin to rotate your torso to the right. To get deeper into the twist, hook the left elbow above the right knee and continue to press energy into your hands. Keeping the length along the right side of the ribs, draw energy out through the crown of your head on the inhale, and twist deeper wringing out the middle and upper back with your exhale. Inhale to come to center, and take your twist to the left side.
Forward Fold - Shoulder Opener
Inhale, finding your way back to center in your chair pose and begin to fold forward once again. Separating the feet hip distance, keep the soft bend in the knees, like you did in your rag doll pose. If your shoulders are sensitive, stay here. Or, to get into the shoulders, interlace the hands behind the small of your back and allow them to fall towards the floor in front of you. Press the palms together, if that's possible and breath space into your shoulders.
To come out, slowly roll yourself up to standing. Gently closing your eyes, take 3 additional rounds of breath, noticing how your body feels now compared to when you first woke up. If you'd like to set an intention for your day ahead, feel free to add that in here as well. Softly open your eyes, and get ready to conquer the day ahead!