The evidence is clear: practicing yoga is beneficial for health, both physical and mental. Researchers have found that regular yoga practice can do more than support flexibility and strength. It may also help support your health and help encourage mindful introspection and self-awareness.1,2 Yoga may also provide a much-needed natural energy boost when your focus and attentiveness start to wane.3 Instead of reaching for caffeine, try a sequence of energizing yoga poses.
Just a few minutes of yoga may help to restore your energy, stave off an afternoon slump, and awaken your body, mind, and soul.4
Energizing Yoga Poses For The Morning
Morning yoga is a great way to wake yourself up. You may feel less flexible in the mornings, so stretch out and loosen up for a few minutes: roll your neck, rotate your arms, and bend from side to side. When you’re ready, try these gentle morning yoga poses to help you stretch out your core:
- Happy Baby Pose: This is a great pose for opening and stretching your hips and groin. Lie on your back and slowly bend your knees toward your chest. Right hand takes right foot, left hand takes left foot; hold this pose for a full minute to gain the full benefit.5,6
- Mountain Pose: Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, and extend your arms overhead, keeping your shoulders loose. Stretch your spine and feel your body wake up.7
- Upward Salute: Moving from Mountain Pose, lace your thumbs together overhead and gently pull to the left and then the right, feeling a deep stretch from your arms through your hips.8
- Reclining Twist: Lay on the ground with your arms extended out to your sides and your legs extended straight out. Draw your right knee up; when it’s perpendicular with the floor, slowly stretch it to the left so that your right knee is touching the ground next to your left hip, and your right foot is touching your left knee. Turn your head to the left to get a good stretch through your lower back. Repeat for the left side.9
Simple Yoga Poses For Day-Long Energy
Now that your core is loosened up after some morning yoga, try some simple and energizing yoga poses:
- Tabletop Pose: Rise up on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your back should be flat like a tabletop. Hold this position while you take some deep breaths. This pose sets you up for some more good back stretches: cow pose and cat pose are complementary stretches.10
- Cow Pose: Start in the tabletop position. Inhale and arch your spine. Draw your belly down to the floor, lift your head, and look forward. Exhale and return to your starting position.11
- Cat Pose: Begin in the tabletop position. As you exhale, press up through your shoulders and spine, drawing in your abdominal muscles and tucking your tailbone in. Inhale as you slowly return to your starting position.12
- Downward Facing Dog: Inhale in the tabletop position, then exhale as you slowly turn your body into a triangle, lifting your knees with your hips high in the air and your hands and feet on the ground. Try to straighten out your legs and keep your arms in line with your torso. This will give you a deep hamstring stretch and an energizing arms yoga workout.13
- Bridge Pose: The bridge pose can be as gentle or as energizing as you make it. Lying on your back, bend your legs with your feet on the floor. Slowly lift your pelvis off the floor. Bring your hands together under your back, lace your fingers together, and draw your shoulder blades together so they are supporting your upper back. For an extra stretch, lift your pelvis towards the ceiling and try to pull your arms apart while keeping your hands together.14
Afternoon Slump? Practice This Powerful Yoga Sequence
Whether you’ve been sitting at your desk all day or running after little ones, by mid-afternoon, your body needs some attention. See how it is feeling, and where it might be hurting. Whether your muscles are overworked or stiff from sitting, they’ll be re-energized by a few minutes of mindful yoga:
- Extended Child’s Pose: Adopt a Tabletop Pose, then extend your hands out in front of you. Lower your hips all the way down and place your chest and forehead on your mat, feeling a stretch through your shoulders.15 This pose is a chance to relax and bring focus to your body and breath with a deep inhale (through the nose) and exhale (also through the nose).
- Camel Pose: Return to a tabletop position, kneel upright and lean back, with one hand resting on your heel, and the other reaching up to stretch out your core. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the mat. Take deep breaths to feel an intense stretch through your chest.16,17
- Modified Side Plank: Slowly return to the Tabletop Pose. Turn sideways so that your left arm is pointing straight up, and your left leg is extended past your right foot, while your right knee and arm are still on the ground. Repeat on the other side, so your right leg is extended and your left knee remains on the ground. This position engages core muscles and focuses your mind on balance.18
Using Yoga Flow Sequences To Give Yourself A Natural Boost
The Vinyasa method of yoga helps build a flow – a sequence of connected poses.19 Now that you’re well stretched and limber, the emphasis can shift to energizing your whole body by repeating some more challenging flows. Take your time with these powerful sequences, holding each position for a count of three before moving on to the next pose:
- Tabletop – Downward Dog – Plank20 – Cobra:21 From the tabletop position, push back into a Downward Dog. Then lower yourself to a push-up position for the Plank Pose. From there, lower all the way down to your yoga mat. For low cobra, bend your arms and keep your hands under your shoulders, pushing up so that your back is arched and hands are off the mat. This flow includes stretching of the legs and torso and engages the core and arms.
- Tabletop – Cat Pose – Cow Pose – Camel Pose: This is a great sequence for loosening your back, especially if you alternate slowly between cow pose (inhale, looking up, chest open) and cat pose (exhale, looking down, back curled, chest caved inward).
- Reclining Twist22 – Bridge Pose – Happy Baby: Aim for a sensation of being ‘wrung out’ from the inside as you breathe deeply into the reclining twist. Next, slowly form a bridge, keeping your tummy and chest level with the mat. Then, relax into Happy Baby, shifting a little from side to side so that your lower back muscles receive some focus.
Understanding How Yoga Can Complement Your Natural Rhythms
Everyone has different rhythms to their energy and productivity. It’s worth making a note of the times when you’re at your best – solving problems, addressing inquiries, thinking creatively or quickly – and also when you tend to slump and become less effective.23,24 Schedule just 10-15 minutes of yoga for those low-energy moments, so that the rest of the day’s tasks seem less stressful and more manageable.
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