After teaching my late class at my yoga studio in Stellenbosch this evening, the oh-so-ominous topic of the dreaded Home Practice came up, as it often does. The talk was about how only coming to class once a week isn’t enough, but that it can be so very challenging to do any yoga at home, what with the dinner / dog / TV / sofa / children / work / (fill in the blank) getting in the way while you are trying to make your way to your mat. I suggested that the solution is to do a quick yoga routine in the morning before even getting out of bed – I firmly believe that 10 minutes of mindful yoga a day is far more powerful than an hour once a week, as long as you are using those 10 minutes to really connect with your breath, listen to your body, still the mind and focus on an intention.
As such, I was reminded of a lovely article on the Gaiam blog by Sadie Nardini that I saw a while back. She gives some very simple yet effective asana for whilst you are still cuddled up in your duvet on these cooler Autumn mornings. To see the original post (with photos) click here, or read on for the description of what to do.
Enjoy, and let me know how it goes!
Waking up doesn’t have to be something you do begrudgingly after pressing the snooze button nine times. It can be something you want to do, a crucial 5-minute window of opportunity that changes your whole day for the better.
If used wisely, the few minutes between being in dreamland and getting up can boost your best mood, kick start your commitment to eat well, and increase your likelihood to work out that day — all while you’re still in bed! All that’s better than one more snooze button press, I’d say.
Whether your exercise form is yoga or not, studies say that if you wake up in a way that stimulates the body’s blood flow, balances the hormonal system and detoxes you, you’re more apt to continue those healthy habits all day long.
My students love this next sequence, for its ability to do all of the above, plus shake off sleep and promote more energy and alertness, while maintaining a calm, centered mind. Studies, schmudies … my clients say that doing this sequence (or not) is often what makes them decide to continue on with their morning workout, or to skip it.
Beginning to move mindfully before the mind’s resistance gets involved is a magic bullet — before the other eye opens, you’ll already well on their way to an endorphin-filled morning, and a more focused, fit, and self-confident day.
Now, that’s worth waking up for!
DETOX BREATH IN GODDESS POSE
Directly out of sleep or snooze, come to lie on your back. Place the feet together, knees open wide. Rest one hand an your lower belly and one over your chest as you begin to take slow, deep breaths through your nose. Inhale, and expand your body so the hands rise. Retain the inhale for a few beats, then let your exhale happen naturally as the hands fall. At the end of your exhale, contract around your navel to gently press the remaining air out of your lungs. Retain the exhale for a few counts.
Repeat for 10 breaths.
Start to work the kinks out of your low back and begin your cleansing inversions as you draw your knees back beside your ribcage. Press your hips towards the mattress, so your seat doesn’t lift up, and draw the knees down with fingers around the big toes, outer feet or behind your knees.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Take the pillow from behind your head and bend your knees to lift hips and place the pillow underneath. To fully detox, legs and hips must be elevated above the heart, heart above the head. So if more pillows are in order, keep ‘em handy. Lift your legs into the air, or rest them on your bed board or wall for more support.
Hold for 10 breaths or more.
Slowly roll onto your right side, and gently press up into a cross-legged easy seat. Wrap your right elbow over your left, bend the arms and touch left fingers to [or towards] the right palm. Lift your elbows to shoulder height, but drop the shoulders. Keep a long spine, and after a few breaths, try rounding the spine, chin to chest, to stretch the upper back.
Take 5-10 breaths here, then uncross arms and repeat with left elbow on top.
Return to a neutral spine, and bring your left hand onto right knee. Reach your right arm into the air on an inhale, and keeping the spine long, exhale and begin to spin your chest, right shoulder and head to the right. Circle your right arm behind you, fingertips down. Inhales maintain the length of your torso, exhales help you to gently spiral through the heart and neck as you tone and spark your energy.
Take 5-10 breaths on each side.
FORWARD BEND WITH FISTS
After your twist, swing your legs off the bed and come to stand with bent legs. Make fists and place them in the opposite elbows (Bent elbows and fists trigger your body to release tension in the back muscles). Fold over your bent legs, and relax your back, shoulders and head completely. Breathe here, feeling any unwanted tension draining into the floor. BTW: This is a great pose at work, or anytime you’re feeling an energy crash and want to get back on track!
Remain in the pose for one minute, then slowly roll to stand, reach overhead for a full body-stretching inhale. Continue into your morning workout, or go start your day from center!