Are you looking for new ways to start your day? What would be a better way to start your morning than an easy morning yoga routine? Our new guest writer, yoga teacher, Virva Rantanen will show you a morning yoga routine that is easy to follow and definitely worth trying!
Stay honest and humble with your body
Getting out of your comfy bed in the morning can sometimes be a struggle. Your body is still half a sleep and your alarm is reminding you of all the important things to do that day. It is a good moment to take more time for yourself to wake up.
Yoga’s main purpose is to learn to listen and respect your body. We often tend to push ourselves and our bodies to achieve something. It may seem like a cliché but with yoga the goal is to slow down and learn through the journey. When we do yoga, we focus on finding that balance and connection with body and mind.
Basically it is important to stay honest and humble with your body – listen to what it has to tell you. Aches and stiffness teaches one where there is still work to be done. Personally I have learned more from asanas that are hard for me than the easier ones (I find that this has lot of resemblance to life overall). Like our personalities, our bodies are different and that is wonderful.
First I´ll guide you through the technical side of this practise. This yoga sequence is designed to literally get you out of the bed easier and to give your body the attention it needs in the morning. So tomorrow morning set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual and repeat these steps.
Morning Yoga Routine
We start by getting some movement in our spine. You can still keep those sleepy eyes closed but lay on your back and bring your left knee to your chest. Rest your arms in T-form on both sides. Have your shoulders rest against your mattress to keep your chest open. Exhale and softly roll the knee over to your right side. You can feel gentle twist in your back. If you feel comfortable, turn your nose to face left. Stay here for 30 seconds to a minute before doing the right side.
After the other side, return to laying on your back. Push yourself gently to a sitting position, your legs straight. Activate your legs by flexing your ankles and give them a tender roll from side to side. Turn your head calmly from side to side by bringing your nose close to each shoulder.
Now lets get out of that bed and do some sun salutations. Sun salutations are the key for warming and getting some gentle movement to your body. It is said that there are as many sun salutations as villages in India. So feel free to add movements your body needs and extra breathes.
Stand beside your bed and bring your hands towards the ceiling. Face your palms towards each other and with an exhale softly bend your upper back. Go easy on this. Inhale to return to centre and repeat with an exhale. Engage your core muscles to protect your lower back.
Next we will give some attention to your sides. Keep your hands pointed to the ceiling, join hands and point your index fingers. Keep your shoulders down to avoid tension. With an exhale bend carefully to your right side. Listen to your body and feel the stretch on your left side. Inhale, return center and repeat the other side. For extra feel to it, step your opposite leg over the other leg to lengthen your side.
Return to centre, give your shoulders an easy shake and lift up your hands again. Start folding forward with a straight back. Keep your eyes looking forward and with an exhale relax into forward fold. With your next inhale look forward, engage your core muscles and straighten your back. Exhale to almost melt towards the ground.
Take a long step back with your right leg and follow with your left. Push all your weight back towards the sky. Lock your palms against the ground and push your bellybutton inwards to activate your core muscles again. We are heading towards your first down-ward dog which is one of the key asanas for your practise. Spend some time here, listening to your body and finding the comfort in this pose. Some simple tasks you can work on in this asana: lift up your kneecaps to activate your thighs, push your shoulders towards each other to straighten and lengthen your back, and keep your fingers actively pushing towards the ground.
Downward dog is a pose that takes time to feel comfortable in so don’t rush through it. It is a great pose to open up your hamstrings and relaxing your back. It also keeps your core activated and strengthens your arms.
From here, roll you weight on to your hands and bring your knees down to ground. Kind of like you are getting ready to do a push-up. Bring your elbows to your sides and lower yourself towards the ground. If you want more challenge here you can straighten your knees but with this sequence we are just opening up our body so take it easy.
Bring your palms on both sides of your mat. Use your upper back muscles to lift your chest off the ground (upward dog). Hands are there to merely give you a little support. Cobra is a gentle way to activate your back and open your chest. Keep your legs active and strong.
From here, push yourself to all fours. With next inhale arch your back and lift your tailbone towards the ceiling. Open up your chest. While you exhale bring your tailbone between your legs and push your shoulders away from each other. Flow through these two movements with your breathe (cat & cow).
With your next inhale extend your right hand towards the sky, exhale, dive under your left arm and bring your right shoulder to the ground. Repeat on the left side.
Return to downward dog by straightening your legs and back. Lift your right leg and take a step towards your hands. Bring your left knee down as you lift up your torso. You are now working on your thigh muscles and opening your hip. Line up your knee and ankle. To open your chest, bring your palms together behind your back.
Activate your core and lift your left knee up calmly. Find your balance by pushing the base of your big toe and the outside of the right foot towards the ground. After a full breathe, lower your knee back to ground and return to downward dog.
Now you can either return to start, repeat the steps and work on your left leg, or you can continue the left side from where you are.
The simplicity of this sequence is to make it easy to remember in the morning and getting some action on your whole body. For me, yoga is my body’s morning coffee. I look forward to it in the evening and it has become a habit. On many mornings my body craves for it but my mind is already planning the to do-list for the day. That is why it´s good to start straight out of bed. So make some room beside your bed and keep in mind that even a five minutes listening what your body has to tell you can make a huge difference.
Yoga’s magic has a lot to do with relaxation and calming your mind. I will talk more about these in the next post, but for now the task is simple: concentrate on what you are doing in the moment and what feeling does it give you. For example: stand with you hand pointed towards the ceiling. How do you feel? Now, are your shoulders relaxed or are they reaching towards your ears? Relax them and feel the difference.
Enjoy your day!
// Virva Rantanen
Virva is a 25-year-old Finnish woman, currently living in South-Korea for this spring. She graduated from her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training last fall. She has been doing yoga for six years. Her yoga practice can be time to relax and time when she wants to sweat and challenge her concentration. What got her hooked was the connection between body and mind that yoga highlights. See Virva´s Instagram account: @virvacious.