It’s not uncommon to have trouble waking up in the morning. Whether you went to sleep late, had some unpleasant dreams that kept you tossing and turning all night, or you’re just not a morning person, you’re not alone. More than half of all Americans (57 percent to be exact) hit the snooze button in the morning when they wake up. But, according to research, that extra five to ten minutes of sleep you’re trying to get isn’t restorative sleep, so it won’t help you feel any more awake when you finally decide to throw off the covers and start the day.
Instead of reaching for that coveted button when your blaring alarm goes off in the morning, try waking up with some yoga instead. Yoga can not only help give you more energy, but it can also help you feel more balanced and centered at the same time.
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We asked Libby Nicholaou, certified yoga instructor at Chelsea Piers in New York City, for a simple morning yoga routine that anyone can do to help them feel more energized in the morning. Try the routine ahead, and who knows — maybe yoga will become your new morning cup o’ joe.
Wake Up With This Easy Morning Yoga Routine
Yoga Pose 1: Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
- Lay yoga mat on the floor. Place a pillow, blanket, or yoga block on your yoga mat, and sit in a cross-legged position with your sits bones on the prop.
- Sit up tall, place your hands on your thighs close to your knees, and close or soften your eyes.
- Take five slow, deep breaths, counting to five as you inhale through the nose and counting down from five as you exhale out the mouth.
- Change the crossing of your legs, and come back to your balanced seated natural posture.
- Seal your lips, and take five deep breaths inhaling through your nose for three seconds and then exhaling through your nose for three seconds. Then find your normal, sustainable but rich breathe.
“This exercise creates centering by bringing you back to your body,” explains Nicholaou. “It is rare that we make time to sit and observe ourselves. Sitting takes us out of productivity and accomplishments and into a place of being. The breath awakens the body and calms the mind.Take note of how your body feels after this pose and breathing exercise, without placing any judgement or casting criticisms.”
Yoga Pose 2: Sukhasana With Breath
- Stay in your seated posture from exercise one, and bring your palms together in front of your heart center, interlacing your fingers with the right thumb in front, facing you.
- Keeping the interlace, turn your palms forward to the space in front of you, and extend your arms up to the ceiling. Try to keep your fingers well interlaced as you slowly side bend to the right for five breaths.
- Focus on stretching through your lower arms, wrists, and finger joints. See if you can anchor your hips on your prop (pillow, blanket, or block), so the side bend opens your ribs and armpits.
- Reach your arms back up toward the ceiling, then straight out forward, before you bring the palms back together in front of your heart.
- Change the crossing of your legs, and repeat the same thing on the left side.
- After you've finished both sides, rest the backs of your hands on your thighs, and make gentle circles with your head.
“This exercise provides energy by working into the superficial fascia layer right under the skin and deeper into the tissue through the binding of the fingers and the twisting of the wrists,” explains Nicholaou. “It opens the ribcage and makes space for deeper breaths. Deeper breaths refresh the mind and create space physically and mentally, which can create an energetic feeling”
Yoga Pose 3: Uttānāsana into Tādāsana (Standing Forward Bend into Mountain Pose)
- Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hip distance apart.
- Forward fold toward the ground as far as you can without feeling discomfort. While folded, hold opposite elbows with your hands, and sway side to side for a few seconds. Switch the grip of your arms, and sway for a few more seconds.
- Release your hands, and slowly roll your spine all the way up to stand. Once you’re fully erect, head stacked directly over shoulders, hips, and feet, take a deep breath in through the nose, and exhale through the mouth.
- Lift your toes off the mat, spread them wide, and then plant them back on your mat.
- Open your chest to broaden across the collarbones, feeling a lift in your heart and top of your head, so you stand a little taller. Let your hands fall by your hips, palms facing forward and your fingers wide.
- Do a quick body scan to make sure each limb, muscle, and ligament is engaged in a way that makes you feel alive and empowered. You are now standing in Tādāsana, or mountain pose, with conscious awareness of your presence.
“The grounding of your feet with the lifting of your heart and head in mountain pose create a connection from the top to the bottom of your body, which can help center you,” explain Nicholaou. “It's almost like you've emerged from sitting to be this new version of yourself standing.”
Yoga Pose 4: Viparita Karani
- Starting from Tādāsana or mountain pose, bend your knees, and slowly begin to sit all the way down on your mat.
- Find a yoga block, or something similar like firm narrow pillows, and place them in arm’s reach. Lie flat on your back, bend your knees, and walk your feet back, close enough to your hips so that you can feel them with your fingers, and place them flat on the mat, hip-width apart.
- Press into your feet, and lift your hips up so you can slide your yoga block (on the lowest height) or your pillows underneath your sacrum. Make sure it feels comfortable, and then lift your legs up to the ceiling.
- If the block or pillow placement is not comfortable, lower your legs down, and readjust the placement, then lift your legs back up.
- Stay here for 16 deep breaths, which is about two minutes. When you lower your legs down, you can remove the props and rest in Savāsana, by lying flat, legs extended, arms at your sides, palms facing up.
“This posture energizes the legs by removing pressure and weight from them,” explains Nicholaou. “It gives the legs a break and makes them feel light. You may find that it brings you joy. There's something about the sensation of your legs being held up by the rest of the body that reminds us of how the different parts of our body can support the others. It is also centering because the body doesn't have to do a lot of work to hold itself in place — it can simply rest on the floor and props.”
1 Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed by 2.5 days.