Some mornings, we all find it difficult to roll out of bed. It’s even less appealing on those bitter cold winter days. If you want to get warm and wake up with a quickness, yoga is a fantastic way to do it! After this simple yoga routine, you’ll be alert and ready for whatever the day has in store.
You’ll be a lot warmer, too.
Warm Up the Spine with Tabletop Pose
It’s always a good idea to start any exercise routine with an effective warm-up. Your body is usually pretty stiff when you first wake up. Warming up will increase the blood flow to your muscles, lubricate the joints, and elevate your heart rate and body temperature.
Come into a tabletop position, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Activate your core muscles to elongate and protect your spine as you try to make it as flat as a tabletop (hence, the name).
Use the next inhale to curve your spine into a U shape, as you gaze upward. Then, use your exhale to curve the other way and make a dome with your upper spine. Gaze toward your belly button (also known as cat and cow pose).
Repeat this 3-5 times until your spine muscles feel warmer and looser.
Warm Up the Legs with Downward Dog
From tabletop position, lift your hips and stretch your legs into an inverted V shape. Feel your heels reach toward the floor. They don’t have to touch the floor, but you always want them to feel as if they’re reaching, as this creates the active stretch.
This position is called downward dog. It’s one of the best spine-elongating poses and you’ll encounter it in just about any yoga class you ever attend.
Bend one knee to stretch the opposite leg, then repeat on the other side. Continue to alternate bending and stretching, almost as if you’re walking in place. Feel free to move your hips. The goal is to warm up and prepare your legs for the day.
Using Gravity in Forward Fold
As you remain in the downward dog position, inhale and gaze forward. Bend your knees and on the next exhale gently step between the palms of your hands. Separate your feet a hip-distance apart and then just hang down, allowing gravity to stretch your spine and legs.
You can grab your elbows and gently sway from side to side, or simply let them fall toward the floor. Your legs can remain straight or you can bend them, depending on your level of flexibility. This should feel good, and you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Bring your feet together again. Inhale and gaze forward with a straight spine, then exhale into a deeper forward fold. Use the next couple of breath cycles to slowly roll yourself up to a standing position. Take as much time as you need.
A Vinyasa Flow
Inhale and lift your arms over your head, then exhale all the way back into your forward fold, maintaining a straight spine. Inhale and gaze forward, then exhale and step backward, keeping your palms where they are, to come into plank pose.
Remain in plank pose for 3-5 breath cycles. Feel your core fire up and get stronger. If you implement the half push-up (chaturanga) in your practice, feel free to lower yourself on your last exhale. If not, you can modify this by placing your knees on the floor.
Inhale, push your hips forward, then gaze upward to come into an upward-facing dog pose. Exhale and push your hips upward to return to the inverted V shape (downward-facing dog).
Stay here for 3-5 breaths. You can remain still or alternate bending your knees. On the last inhale gaze forward, then bend your knees. As you exhale, step between your palms. Inhale and gaze upward, then exhale into a deeper forward fold.
On your next inhale, come all the way back to standing. This flow is called the Vinyasa Sun Salutation. Its purpose is to warm up your body and get all those juices flowing. You can repeat it 3-5 times or more and deepen your poses each time.
Strengthen Those Abs
There’s nothing better than an ab blaster to turn up the heat on a cold morning. Start in plank position and just hold the pose for a bit. You’ve been here before, so you know how it feels. After a moment, lower one elbow to the floor and then the other.
Next, push yourself up with one palm and then the other. Repeat this 10-12 times. Try to find a good tempo without losing your breath. When you’re done, come back to plank position.
Place one hand centered in front of your chest, then slowly turn your body sideways. Stack your legs on top of one another and use your obliques to hold you in a side plank. If you need to modify, you can lower on to one elbow. Breathe and really use that mind-to-muscle connection to activate your whole side body.
After five breaths, come back to center and repeat on the other side.
Finish with a Seated Twist
Now, come into a seated position and bring your knees to your chest. Straighten your left leg and cross your right leg over it. Keep your knee bent and close to your body. Grab your right knee with your left hand and place your right palm behind your seat, using it as leverage to prop yourself up and keep your spine straight.
Inhale and then exhale into a twist, gently turning your head toward your back. Stay here for a couple of breaths, then slowly return to center, before repeating on the other side.
That’s it! You’ve now completed your first morning yoga routine. During these frigid final days of winter, keep it up! This simple flow will definitely warm you up and get you prepared for whatever the day may bring. If you find it difficult to stick with the routine, be sure to check out these tips to make your morning yoga a habit.