Let me remind you that I am NOT a doctor or medical professional. I am writing this post to share a routine that has been helpful to me. Please note that if you have an autoimmune disease or dealing with any joint pain make sure to consult your doctor before practicing yoga. There are many different styles of yoga and it’s important to find the style that is right for you!
My favorite morning yoga poses
If you know me or read my last blog post you know that yoga is essential to get my ass going and feeling good. I’ll be honest, I will choose five extra minutes of sleep over anything so I usually don’t have much time for yoga in the morning. But, here are five poses that I never skip — three of these I do while I’m still in bed!
When dealing with joint issues it’s important that you give them plenty of time to warm up. Before I even open my eyes I take a few deep breaths and start with some joint rotations – gentle movements to get my blood circulating and my joints lubricated. Five to ten circles (depending on how much time I have) with my ankles and wrists in one direction and then the other, rock my head side to side and finally I reach my arms over head for a full body stretch. If you’ve been to my class before this should sound familiar because it’s usually how we come out of savasana and it feels so good!
1. Pawanmuktasana (wind relieving pose): Hug one knee in towards your chest and then the other, drawing your thighs towards your abdomen. Hands can rest gently on the shins and head supported by your mat (or in my case usually my mattress). Option to take it further by reaching for opposite wrist or elbow and drawing the chin towards the knees but be careful not to strain the neck and keep the breath steady. Stay for five to ten breaths or however long your body needs.
Benefits: Stretches the back and neck, strengthens the back and abdomen, relieves lower back pain, increases blood flow to the hip joint. It also massages the internal organs, aids in digestion and releasing gas – hence the name.
2. Supta Matsyendrasana (supine twist): If you are suffering from back pain spinal twists are where it’s at! Engage your core – I know, I know, this is a restorative pose but you still have to make sure,your lower back is protected so draw in that belly – and big your right knee in towards your chest. As you exhale, let the knee drop off of the left. Right arm extends out to the said and you flip the palm facing up. Relax the shoulder, support it with a pillow if needed. Maybe even throw one under that right knee for some extra support. Hold for five to ten breaths then switch sides.
Benefits: Stretches muscles along the spine, the glutes and the shoulder. Relieves back pain, aids in digestion and is super relaxing
3. Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined bound angle): Draw the soles of your feet together letting your knees splay out to either side. If the hips aren’t loving this, throw a pillow under each knee for some support. Playing around with how,close the heels are to the hips will also change the intensity of the pose. Let the arms can go wherever feels good (by your side with palms up, resting on hips/thighs or even overhead). Close your eyes and take five to ten deep breaths.
Benefits: Stretches the inner thighs and groin, calms the nervous system, improves digestion
4. Uttanasana (standing forward bend): Start with a nice bend in the knees and hinge at your hips keeping a flat back as you fold. This is a tough pose for me in the morning – my back and neck are super tight. So I bend my knees enough to get my chest resting on my thighs and I let my fingertips rest on blocks or the floor if they will reach. Focus on taking even breaths and keeping areas like the jaw and shoulders soft. As the hamstrings start to loosen up you may be able to straighten the legs. You might even try swaying a little side to side or front to back. When you’re ready to move on bend the knees, press down through your feet and roll to standing letting the head and neck be the last to arrive. Once standing I do 5 – 10 shoulder rotations in one direction and then the other. I then interlace my hands behind my back (starting with a bend in my elbows and the heels of my hands together), roll the shoulder blades together and then create space between them and the ears (be mindful that the lower ribs don’t splay out – keep them tucked in). If you are feeling a stretch in the fronts of the shoulders hang out here and take some deep breaths. To take it further, being to straighten the arms but don’t let the srists splay out.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings/hips/calves, releases tension in the neck and back, relieves stress and anxiety.
5. Urdha Hastasana (upward salute): Arm begin by your side (mountain pose) and on an inhale sweep them over head and as you exhale soften your shoulders. With your next inhale lengthen the sides of your body and on your next exhale side bend to the left. Press down through the right foot and visualize your breathe traveling all the way up your right side body. Use an inhale to bring you back through center and then take it on the other side.
Benefits: Stretches the front of the body & the shoulders. Helps improve digestion.