“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Cat Cow wakes up the spine and allows you to connect with the way your body is feeling at the start of the day. It helps to lubricate the spine, which is essential to body health. Start your day by rolling out of bed and getting right into table top position.
How to do it: Start in a table top position. As you inhale arch your spine sticking your seat and your chest into the air. Lift your gaze towards the ceiling. As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin into your navel. Think of a Halloween cat images to find the stretch across your back. On the inhale repeat the arching of the spine and the lifting of the chin and the seat. On the exhale find your cat-arched spine. Repeat this for five breaths, moving on the inhale and the exhale. If you feel like moving a bit more, make circles with the hips as you continue to bend and flex your spine.
Downward Dog gets the head below the heart, which is great for circulation, flushing out the immune system, and also promotes mental clarity. On a physical level it stretches out the calves and hamstrings and starts to open up the back body while strengthening the arms.
How to do it: From table top, tuck the toes and lift the hips into the air. Open the fingers wide and press down into all 10 knuckles. Bend the elbows slightly and rotate the armpits in towards your ears. Gaze in between your toes or up at your navel. Close the take deep breaths here.
Mountain Pose has been lauded as one of the most emotionally beneficial poses in yoga. Taking a moment to stand actively tall, still, and breathe inspires confidence and awareness. This is also a great pose to set an intention for your day, knowing that you have everything you need to accomplish it.
How to do it: Walk forward to the front of the mat. Roll the body all the way up to standing. Stand with feet hips width apart and the arms extended long by your sides, palms open. Bring your shoulder blades up to your ears, and then relax them down. Close your eyes and perform a mental body scan, starting from your feet. Name each body part as you pass over it. When you reach your head, feel it stretch up towards the ceiling making you taller. Stay in mountain pose after the body scan for five deep breaths.
Chair Pose with Twist
Twisted chair is a fire building pose that warms up the body and sends cues to the digestive system to rev up and get ready for the day. It builds strength in the legs and supports a healthy, limber spine. On an emotional level, there is a wringing out of any tension or stress that might be trying to carry over from the night before.
How to do it: Walk the feet together so that the legs are touching. Bend the knees and lift the arms overhead; imagine you are sitting back into a chair. Rock the weight into you heels. Bring the palms to touch over your heart. Twist to the right and connect your left elbow to your right knee. Make sure your knees stay connected and even. Take five breaths. Untwist and come back to chair pose with the hands at heart center. Twist to the left, connecting right elbow to the outer left thigh. Take five breaths and then fold over both legs.
Bridge pose is a backbend which means it is naturally energizing, like that extra shot of espresso to your feel-good latte. It is also great for anyone who might spend time sitting, as it strengthens the lower back. Also, bridge pose supports organs such as the kidneys and the liver, so this pose is ideal if you’re recovering from a long night on the town.
How to do it: Make your way onto your back and bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor, about hips width apart. Press down into your heels and lift your hips into the air. Interlace your fingers underneath of your lower back and bring your shoulder blades closer together. Press into your clasped hands and your heels to lift everything higher. Take five breaths here before releasing the grip of your hands and lowering the body down. Repeat this pose two more times, holding each for five deep breaths.