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 “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”

– Marcus Aurelius.

Are you aware of your morning routine? Do you ever consider how to spend your first minutes of the day? The very first things you do after opening your eyes? For my whole life, I didn’t. I used to wake up half an hour before I had to leave and run out of the door. Yes, as you might have guessed, this was a very unpleasant way of starting my day. Every day I felt the effects of the mornings throughout the whole day: unbalanced, mood swings, stomach pain and the list goes on. While I was doing an intensive yoga teacher training I experienced the benefits of waking up early and balancing the day from the very first minute.

I would like to share one of my personal morning yoga routines with you, which is a peaceful transition from the dream world to the awakened life. Following this step-by-step guide to a morning asana sequence will help you feel grounded, stretch your sore joints, clean your body with deep breaths and lead to increased calmness and focus during your day.

Asanas lying on your back

Shavasana (corpse pose)

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This asana is our starting point. Shavasana is the state of total relaxation. We start our day by regaining awareness of our body (from toes to crown of the head) and mind (thoughts and emotions) by observing them.

  • Lie flat on your back and feel your breath moving you chest.
  • Bring your arms over your head and give a good stretch on your body. Focus on the traction happening in your spine.
  • Stay in shavasana for a few breaths and give yourself time to notice how your body and mind feel.

Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose)

This asana improves blood circulation and give stress relief by opening the hips.

  • Still lying on your back
  • Stretch your groins, thighs and knees
  • Place sole of the feet together and drop your knees to the sides
  • Place your left hand on your heart and right hand on your belly
  • Move your awareness to the stretch in your groin and on your breath
  • Deep inhale and exhale in this position. While inhaling, feel your lower back sinking down. While exhaling, your groin opens a bit more.

Jhulana Lurhakanasana (rocking and rolling)

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This asana gives you a good massage on your back as well as a stretch in your lower back.

  • Lying on the back
  • Bend both knees to your chest and interlock your fingers around the shins just below the knees
  • Gently roll from side to side and back and forward on the spine
  • Keep your focus on the movement and your breath

Supta Pawanmuktasana (energy release pose)

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This asana activates your digestive system and also fights constipation. Besides this, it stretches your thighs, your gluteus muscles and your groin.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Keep the right knee bend and stretch the left leg straight on the ground
  • Slowly bring the nose towards the right knee.
  • Focus on the movement, abdominal pressure and the breath
  • Repeat the same procedure on the left side.

It’s important to start with the right leg because it presses the ascending colon directly.

Supta Udarakarshasana (sleeping abdominal stretching pose)

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This asana stretches your spine and abdominal region, and also helps eliminating constipation

  • Lying on your back with your knees bent
  • Move your legs to the left side
  • Place the sole of both feet on the ground
  • Keep the knees and feet together
  • Interlock the fingers and place the palm of the hands under the back of the head and look into the opposite direction of your legs while letting your elbows touch the floor
  • Repeat the same procedure on the right side.

Transfer to seated position

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After twisting to the right side, use your left hand to push yourself into seated position.

Asanas in seated position

Greeva Sanchalana (neck movements)

Release of tensions in the neck area right in the morning will strengthen your focus and productivity during the day. While doing this exercise, bring your awareness to the tensions releasing in your neck and to your in-and exhalation.

Forward and backbend of the neck

  • Sit in a cross-legged position
  • Place your hands on your knees
  • Keep your eyes closed
  • Relax the shoulders and slowly move the chin forward towards your chest
  • Then carefully move your head back
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

Ear to shoulder

  • Bring your head back to the center
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Slowly reach your right ear towards your right shoulder
  • Carefully bring your head back to the center
  • Reach your left ear to your left shoulder
  • Bring your head back to the center
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

Looking to the side

  • Gently turn your head to the right
  • As you exhale, move your chin towards your right shoulder
  • Bring your head to the center with an inhale
  • Do the same movement to the left side
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

Rotations of the head

  • Bring your head back to the center
  • Move your chin towards your chest
  • Slowly rotate the head to your right
  • Repeat in the opposite direction 5-10 times

Eye exercises

Artificial light, the long hours sitting in front of a screen and poor food are factors that contribute to poor eye health. Luckily, yoga offer us tools to keep our eyes fit. By repeating this routine every morning, short and long-sightedness, presbyopia and squint will be reduced. For the following exercises, the eyebrows and facial muscles should be relaxed

Palming

  • Still sitting with your eyes closed
  • Rub the palms of the hands together to generate heat
  • When they feel warm, place them on the eyes without putting any pressure
  • Keep the hands on your eyes until all the heat is absorbed
  • Repeat 3 times.

Blinking

  • Open your eyes
  • Blink 10 times quickly
  • Close the eyes and relax for five breaths
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Move the eye from side to side/up-down (with your head still)

  • Keeping your head still, look to the right-most (without moving your head)
  • Return your gaze back to a neutral position, looking straight in front of you
  • Then look to the left-most
  • Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Look up (without moving your head)
  • Look down (without moving your head)
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Diagonal stretches (with your head still)

  • Look diagonally up to your right
  • Return your gaze to a neutral position
  • Look diagonally up to your left
  • Return your gaze to neutral position
  • Look diagonally down to your right
  • Return your gaze to neutral position
  • Look diagonally down to your left
  • Repeat 3- 5 times
  • You can blink in between if you feel it’s necessary.

Drawing circles

  • Look up as if you were gazing at 12 on a clock
  • Continue to three, six, nine and back to twelve
  • After repeating it 3-5 times, change the direction

Nose gazing

  • Keep your left arm straight in front of the nose
  • Make a fist with your left hand and move your left thumb up
  • Focus on the left thumb for two or three seconds then turn your focus to your nose
  • Repeat it for 5-10 times
  • Keep focusing on your left thumb and move it slowly to your nose
  • Move your thumb away from your nose by slowly stretching your arm.

Finishing this sequence with another round of palming exercise.

Asanas on hands and knees

Marjaryasana to Bitilasana (cat and cow stretch)

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This series warm up your spine and relieves back and neck tension. It’s a perfect way to loosen up your sore joints after a good night sleep.

  • Start with hands and knees on the bed/floor. Make sure that your wrists are under your shoulders as well as knees under the hips
  • Make a neutral spine position by keeping a flat back
  • Inhale deeply
  • As you exhale, round the spine up towards the ceiling, turn your elbows out and move your chin towards your chest. Make sure that your belly button is pulled towards your spine
  • With an inhale arch your back, tuck your elbows in, keep your arms slightly bend, lift your head and bring your tailbone towards the ceiling. Keep your belly relaxed and make sure not to put extra pressure on your neck while looking up
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

Balasana (childs pose)

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The childs pose calms the brain, releases tensions, back and neck pain and gives a good traction to the spine.

  • Sit on your heels with your big toes together. The knees can be together or apart
  • Bend forward so your forehead rests on the ground
  • Stretch your arms alongside of your ears and press your fingers into the mat/bed
  • Stay for a few breaths and feel the stretch in your whole spine
  • Move your arms from the center to the right
  • Stay for a few breaths and feel the stretch on your left side
  • Repeat it to the left
  • Align yourself in the center and stay for a few breaths
  • Bring both arms backwards towards your feet
  • Stay for a few breaths and notice how it creates space in your back.

Asanas in upright position

Anuvittasana (standing backbend)

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Standing backbend opens the front of the body and strengthens the respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. It also makes you more confident to embrace the day ahead. Don’t do this pose if you have any injury in your hips, necks or back.

  • From a standing pose interlace your hands behind your back
  • Press into the feet, pull up the knee caps, and squeeze the thighs and buttocks. Keep your head align with the spine (don’t overbend your head!)
  • Gently bend your upper back while stretching your arms away from your body, Keep your a light bend in your elbows
  • As you finish, release your hands and keep the legs and buttocks strong as you slowly bring your posture straight.

Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

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This asana increases the blood flow to the head and brain, and gives a good stretch in your hamstrings, back and calve muscles.

  • Keep your feet hip distance apart and gently bend your knees
  • Bend your upper body forward and keep your neck muscles loose, allowing your head to stay relaxed
  • Let your arms hang loose
  • Move your awareness to your breath and to the stretch in your body
  • Slowly move your upper body from side to side
  • At every inhalation, lenghten on spine and fall deeper into the pose at every exhalation
  • Gently move your hips toward the ceiling
  • After a couple of deep breaths, exhale deeply and with an inhale you slowly roll yourself back up
  • Finish with your head straight, your shoulders relaxed with and a deep exhalation.

Tadasana (mountain pose)

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This asana helps you keep a straight and elegant posture throughout your day. By observing your postures alignment, you will easier find back to it during the day, which will prevent knee, feet and back pain, as well as improve your focus and body awareness.

  • Standing with feet hip distance apart
  • Feel your soles of your feet on the ground
  • Your toes are spread and your knees slightly bend
  • Bring your hands together into prayer position at the center of your chest
  • Ease tensions on your shoulder allowing them to relax at every exhalation
  • Focus on your breath and the alignment of your spine
  • Express your gratitude for your mind, body and soul
  • Set your intentions for the day.

 

Yoga to wake up

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