Sometimes, I’m a little slow to wake up. If I awake feeling rushed because I overslept or have a lot to accomplish that day, I find that if I take five minutes for a short yoga routine, I can generate energy, motivation, and the calm I need to tackle my projects. I usually accompany my practice with a mantra I repeat with each breath, such as "I love life" or "All is well."
What makes this sequence perfect for the morning is that it can be done without even getting out of bed, although I prefer to do it on the floor. It's a gentle flow that can be done in a short amount of time. It'll make you feel energized by getting your blood flowing as you stretch your ribcage and spine. Folding your legs underneath you stretches your thighs and also moves blood to your hips, ankles and joints. When coupled with your chosen mantra timed to steady breathing, it creates a bridge between the sleeping world and wakefulness.
Here is a simple yoga sequence in Hero Pose that is sure to get your blood flowing and improve your mindset for the day.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
Sit comfortably on the bed or floor with your legs folded underneath you. Reach the top of your head upward so your spine is long and straight. Breathe in deeply, expanding your chest. Breathe out completely, pulling your belly button toward your spine. Take at least 30 seconds to follow your breath. Count slowly to 4 on both the inhale and the exhale. Keep it flowing.
Lion’s Breath (Simhasana)
When you’re ready to take it up a notch, do three Lion’s Breaths. Look up at the sky or at the tip of your nose. Spread your fingers wide like a lion’s paw. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth with a soft roar. Stick out your tongue. Be playful with it!
Side Stretch (Parighasana)
Place one hand on the floor next to you and gently bend your body over your elbow. Reach the other hand over your head. Look up but keep your neck relaxed. Breathe deeply as you feel the side of your body and ribs opening up. Switch sides for an equal amount of time. Or, if it feels nice, do a few side stretches on each side by exhaling to one side, inhaling to center and exhaling to the other side in time with your breathing.
Seated Twist (Parivrrta Virasana)
Twisting is a great way to detoxify the body. It’s like you’re twisting a huge sponge. By twisting in Hero Pose, you naturally keep your hips aligned. Place one hand on your opposite knee, then place the other behind you. Look behind you. When you inhale, make yourself taller. When you exhale, twist a little more. Be sure to spend the same number of breaths on each side.
Upward Hands (Urdhva Hastasana)
End your practice by reaching both hands to the sky. Keep your thumbs pointing toward the back or clasp your hands and turn your palms to the sky. Gently drop your head back to open up the front of your throat. Give yourself a little backbend in the space between your shoulder blades.
This short sequence can be completed quickly, but will serve as a nice transition between lying down in bed and getting up and out the door. May the rest of your day be productive and rewarding. Namaste!