Do you often feel sluggish and unmotivated in the morning? Or perhaps you feel the need to slow down but you don’t know where to start? Establishing a good morning routine can help.
One of the most effective ways to relax your mind and prepare for the day is with a daily yoga session.
Short on time? That’s OK – all you really need is 10 minutes in the morning. Find a quiet room that you can practice in daily and keep your phone on silent to avoid distractions.
Practising yoga every day has many physical benefits such as strengthening your muscles, improving your balance and increasing your flexibility.
However, the mental benefits are just as important. Research shows that yoga greatly relieves depression and other mental health disorders like anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
Starting any new habit can be intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner, but it doesn’t have to be difficult!
Here are 8 yoga stretches suitable for both beginner and advanced yogis.
The great thing about Child’s Pose is that it’s suitable for yogis of all levels. It’s a great pose for stress relief and relaxation, but that’s not all there is to it.
Due to the way you bend over for this pose, it helps to relieve tension in the back and may alleviate hip pain. If you regularly sit at a desk or sit crouched over a laptop, then it’s important that you fully stretch out the back and spine.
Child’s Pose also helps to strengthen the arms, shoulders and thighs, so you should see a difference in the strength of your muscles if you practise this pose every morning.
HOW TO PERFORM CHILD’S POSE:
- Start by kneeling on your mat with your buttocks resting against your heels
- Ensuring your feet are close together, extend your arms out on your mat. with your palms pressed against the mat.
- Lower your stomach onto your thighs while resting your forehead on the mat
- Inhale for a few seconds and exhale for a few seconds.
- You can stay in this position for 30 seconds or longer.
Cat-cow is a two-part yoga flow that is suitable for beginners. If you practise this stretch every day, you should notice a strengthening of the spine and increased flexibility, which should be helpful if you experience back pain.
Cat-Cow can tone the abdomen and pelvis, which can be especially helpful in reducing menstrual cramps and improving gastrointestinal issues.
HOW TO PERFORM CAT-COW:
- Begin by kneeling and placing your hands on the mat.
- Ensure your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.
- To move into cow pose, inhale as you drop your belly and lift your chin, so you are looking straight ahead.
- As you move into cat pose, tuck your belly in and round your spine, so that it resembles a cat stretching their back.
- Continue to inhale with cow pose and exhale with cat pose – repeat this movement a few times.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
Thread The Needle provides a deep stretch, so it’s a great pose to add to your morning routine. As this pose involves lowering the back and twisting your neck, it’s an effective way to relieve tension in both body parts.
For those people who are often hunched over a laptop or phone, this stretch can help by relieving any pain or tension in the shoulders.
HOW TO PERFORM THREAD THE NEEDLE:
- Start by getting on all fours on your mat.
- Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees should be hip width apart.
- Lift your right arm off the mat and slide it beneath your left arm with your palm facing up to the ceiling.
- Lower your right shoulder and ensure your ear is resting against the mat.
- Inhale for several seconds and exhale for several seconds at least 3 times
- Repeat on the other side.
Downward-facing Dog pose gets its name from its similarity to a dog stretching when getting up. This pose provides a full body stretch, which makes it perfect to practice in the morning, as it helps to improve circulation and prepare you for whatever the day holds.
HOW TO PERFORM DOWNWARD-FACING DOG:
- Start with an all-fours position.
- Tuck your toes in while gently extending your hips into the air.
- Straighten your legs while shifting your tailbone back to your feet to form a V-shape.
- Hold this position while you inhale and exhale several times.
Forward fold is a popular standing pose that helps to calm the mind while providing a deep stretch to the hamstrings, calves, neck and shoulders. This stretch may also improve digestion by stimulating the liver and kidneys.
HOW TO PERFORM A FORWARD FOLD:
- Start by standing on your mat with your feet hip width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Inhale and on the exhale fold forward from the hips and bring your head down.
- Place your hands on the floor or rest them on your ankles, whatever feels most comfortable.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Try to hold this position for at least 30 seconds before releasing.
FORWARD FOLD WITH TWIST
A standing Forward Fold with Twist is a stretch that is suitable for beginners. This pose helps to lengthen and strengthen the spine while alleviating any tension in the back and the hips. It may also help reduce shoulder pain.
HOW TO PERFORM A FORWARD FOLD WITH TWIST:
- Start in a halfway lift position.
- Place your left hand in front of your left foot while gently bending that leg.
- Extend your right arm into the air and twist your torso so you are gazing up towards your hand.
- Hold this pose for several seconds before switching to the other side.
FORWARD FOLD WITH CHEST EXPANSION
The chest expansion adds another level of difficulty to this pose, but if you do it correctly, it provides a deeper stretch for the whole body. Adding this stretch to your morning yoga routine will help to calm your mind and improve your circulation.
HOW TO PERFORM A FORWARD FOLD WITH CHEST EXPANSION:
- Stand with your knees hip width apart.
- Interlace your hands together behind your back with your arms straight.
- Begin raising your arms over your head as you fold forwards.
- Lift your tailbone upwards and take several breaths.
- Slowly ease your way into a standing position.
MOUNTAIN WITH CACTUS ARMS
Suitable for beginners, the Mountain with Cactus Arms is a great stretch to add to your morning routine to calm your mind and improve your posture. It helps to strengthen the ankles, knees and thighs and lengthen the spine.
HOW TO PERFORM MOUNTAIN WITH CACTUS ARMS:
- Start in a standing position with your arms down by your side and your head facing straight ahead.
- Extend your chest upwards.
- Bend your elbows and raise your hands into the sky.
- Your tailbone should be pointed downwards, and your head should be slightly lifted.
- Try to stay in this position for at least 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
It can take some time to develop a good morning routine, but as your body gets used to it and you start to reap the benefits, it should provide you with enough motivation to continue.
There are many mental and physical benefits to practising yoga everyday – with the biggest difference being a boost in energy. A 10-minute morning yoga stretch is a short amount of time, but over time, it can make a huge difference to how you look and feel.