By Sue Fuller
Do you sometimes wake still feeling tired and struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Do you reach for a coffee first thing to get you going? If you answer yes to any of these, then why not try starting the day with 15 minutes of yoga? Yoga will clear and focus the mind, reduce stress, eliminate toxins, increase circulation and move stagnant energy around the body. Yoga has the ability to increase vitality and motivate you for your day ahead.
Try the following techniques upon waking: –
Kapalabhati – Frontal Cleansing Breath
Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight. Inhale deeply through the nose filling the lungs completely. Use a short sharp contraction of the diaphragm to push some of the air out through your nose. Now allow a little more air to enter the lungs through the nose before pushing it out again using the short sharp contraction of the diaphragm. Continue breathing like this. You should be creating a sound similar to a steam train.
When starting this technique begin with a cycle of twenty breaths. This can gradually be increased. At the end of each cycle take one complete inhalation followed by a complete exhalation. Repeat this technique for three complete cycles
Simple Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation
Begin standing with the arms beside your body, a straight spine, a small space between the insides of your feet and the outside edges of your feet parallel. Breathe slowly in and out through your nose.
Inhale and lift your arms out to the side until your hands form a prayer position above your head.
Exhale and fold your body forwards with the lower abdominal muscles engaged. Allow your arms to take the natural path down until your fingertips touch the floor or they just hang alongside your legs.
Inhale and step your right leg back as far as possible whilst bending your left knee, to form a long lunge and place your hands onto the floor. Make sure that your left knee is over your left ankle (to protect the knee).
Exhale and step the left foot back so it is beside the right, allow your hips to move up and back to create a triangular shape with your body and the floor this is Addho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)
Inhale and move to Plank by moving your shoulders forward and lowering your hips to form a straight line between your shoulders and your heels. Make sure that you brace the abdominal muscles to protect your lower back.
As you exhale lower knees, chest and chin to the floor whilst keeping the hips lifted.
Inhale and slide your chest forward, lower your hips and slowly straighten your arms lifting your shoulders and torso from the floor. Listen to your body and keep the elbows bent if this is more suitable.
Exhale and activate the lower abdominal muscles as you move back to adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog).
Inhale and step the right foot forwards to form a long lunge.
Exhale and step your left foot beside your right, straighten your legs and relax your upper body into a standing forward bend.
Inhale and slowly uncurl, then lift your arms above the head bringing your hands back to a prayer position.
Exhale as lower your arms returning them to beside your body.
Repeat all of the above stepping back with the left leg. Continue working both sides equally for at least 5 complete rounds.
If you are not comfortable passing through plank then replace it with majaryasana (cat). Cat is performed on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Exhale and create a convex shape with the spine as you inhale reverse the movement concaving the spine and then pick up the second downward facing dog and continue with the rest of the sequence.
If you are new to yoga and not familiar with sun salutations try this: –
Sit on the edge of your bed and breathe slowly in and out through your nose. As you inhale lift your arms out to the side, keep lifting the arms until your palms join above your head. As you exhale reverse the movement, repeat ten times.
To keep vitality high it is important to get plenty of rest and sleep well. A few basic asanas practiced before bed and a short relaxation will help you sleep well with a clear and un-agitated mind
Try these before bed: –
Jathara Parivrttasana – Spinal Twist.
Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and your arms out level with your shoulders and your palms facing up. Inhale and as you exhale let your knees fall to the right and turn your head to the left. As you inhale lift your knees up in the centre and as you exhale allow the knees to fall to the left and turn your head to the right. Continue like this for at least ten complete breaths working both sides equally.
Savasana – The Corpse.
This will help to relieve stress, clear and focus the mind and induce a state of deep relaxation. Lay on your back with your legs extended and the arms beside your body with the palms facing up. Lightly close the eyes and breathe slowly through the nose relaxing on each exhalation.
Always practice yoga mindfully, listen to your body, if you feel pain or discomfort relax the posture immediately. Always seek medical advice before commencing any new exercise programme.
Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher, writer and well-being expert. She is the founder of yoga2hear.co.uk, the online store where you can purchase her range of 40 audio yoga classes on CD and MP3 download. Sue also owns and operates wellbeingworldonline.com a one stop shop featuring high quality downloadable yoga, pilates, meditation, relaxation and sound healing classes from a worldwide collection of inspirational teachers and experts.
Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher, writer and well-being expert. She is the founder of www.yoga2hear.co.uk the online store where you can purchase her range of 40 audio yoga classes on CD and MP3 download. Sue also owns www.wellbeingworldonline.com a one stop shop featuring high quality downloadable yoga, pilates, meditation, relaxation and sound healing classes from a worldwide collection of inspirational teachers and experts.