Before you even get out of bed, you can do some yoga to help jumpstart your day. These four simple exercises work better than coffee to energize your body and wake up the mind. Not only that, practiced every day, this simple series of exercises can give physical, mental and spiritual stamina so you can handle whatever life throws at you with grace and a smile or, if need be, decisive action.
The morning series has four parts, each part should be practiced for 1-3 minutes. To end each exercise, take a deep inhale, suspend the breath for a few moments while still holding the posture. Exhale and relax.
1. STRETCH POSE Lie on your back with your legs together, toes pointing forward, arms at your side. Raise your arms, legs, and head six inches off the ground. Do your best to keep your lower back pressed against the floor. With your eyes open, look towards your toes. Hold the position and begin breath of fire, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
If you have weakness in the lower back and have trouble keeping your legs up, try bending your knees a little. Alternatively, you can hold up one leg at a time; just make sure you keep alternating, don't keep one leg up for more time than the other. If you need to, as a last resort, you can place your hands underneath your lower back. This is fine for alignment but won't do much to strengthen your core muscles.
Something to watch for: some students have a tendency to raise their legs and/or shoulders too high. The tips of the shoulder blades should stay in contact with the floor.
2. TUCK POSE Still lying on your back, draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around your legs. Bring your head forward, nose as close to your knees as you can manage. Hold the position and begin breath of fire.
3. ROCK ON YOUR SPINE Still holding your knees close to your chest, begin to rock forwards and backwards on your back, moving from your tail bone to your neck. Keep yourself tucked in a tight ball and try to move from your navel point, using your core muscles.
4. EGO ERADICATOR Come sitting in simple cross legged pose, aka "easy" pose. Bring your arms out to the sides and raise them 60 degrees from parallel. Palms face forward and bend your fingers at the first knuckle, bringing the pads of your fingers to press against the pads at the top of your palms. The thumbs stretch out and you should feel a stretch across the palm. Close your eyes, focus at the brow point, and begin breath of fire.
SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF THIS MORNING SERIES: There are many benefits of stretch pose. The posture adjusts the navel point and tunes up the nervous system. As well, stretch pose strengthens the abdominal muscles. Stretch pose is good for digestion and can help burn off inner anger. By stimulating the navel point, stretch pose activates internal strength and the ability to project.
Tuck pose allows the heart to relax, helps to release gas, and is good for elimination. Rocking on the spine massages the muscles of the back and can be energizing. Ego eradicators strengthen the electromagnetic field and the heart and builds courage. It is a posture of victory. The mudra stimulates the brain.
Breath of fire is both calming to the mind and energizing to the physical body. It strengthens the nervous system, releases toxins from the body, and increases lung capacity. (If you are unclear about how to approach breath of fire, Posture Master Guru Prem Singh Khalsa gives a great tutorial on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBjnograjq4&list=PL2qdjvEBX7h458mT3sSr0msvvuKS8h3Kh)
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Stretch pose and breath of fire should not be practiced by women who are on the three heaviest days of their period or who are pregnant from the 120th day onward. (Breath of Fire and stretch pose during the first 120 days is permissible if there are no complications with the pregnancy. )