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The first few minutes of your day set the tone for the next 24 hours. You undoubtedly recognize the “off” feeling you have all day when you sleep through your alarm. Fortunately, making the right choices during your waking moments can fix your mindset to the positive, sending you out the door with a great attitude.
Exercise is one healthy choice, and the ancient practice of yoga incorporates your body and mind, making it the ideal gentle wake-up call. Here are six tips for establishing your morning routine.
1. Start With Intent
Did you know how well you handle life’s ups and downs hinges on whether you have an external or internal locus of control? Many people with anxiety experience the former, feeling as if they remain at the whims of fickle fate, increasing their fears that something could go wrong. Setting an intention creates a mindset shift to an internal locus of control, reminding you that you have the power to make positive changes in your world.
Before you begin your morning yoga routine, pause to take two or three deep breaths while adjusting your mindset for the coming day. It helps to repeat your intention out loud. What should you say? Phrases such as “I intend to witness the beauty and kindness in everyone” and “I intend to forgive myself and others” remind you that you always have the power to choose your attitude regardless of your external circumstances.
2. Ease Into It
Yes, some people leap out of bed, lace up their running shoes and hit the ground running. The rest of us mere mortals need a little extra momentum to get moving, especially if we wake up with aches and pains.
That’s okay — the beauty of yoga is that you can customize your routine for your body and its needs. A quick keyword search for “morning yoga” on YouTube reveals videos that you can start right in bed. You might begin with a few dynamic bridges and supine twists before you emerge from the covers, working your way up to a standing flow or completing an entire restorative or yin-style routine in the sheets. Talk about a gentle way to wake up your body.
Many yoga guides will tell you that breathing is the most important part of any yoga workout and they’re right. Your breath brings the mental component into the game, focusing your awareness firmly in the present, coordinating your inhales and exhales with movement.
Some yoga practices will leave you panting. For example, Ashtanga is a highly athletic form. Vinyasa developed from this style, linking breath and body movements in various dynamic flows.
Other styles allow you to focus primarily on breathwork. Kundalini, for example, focuses intently on breathing and chanting to balance your body’s energy centers or chakras. Yin classes have you holding poses for up to five minutes. Some restorative ones go even longer, giving you ample time to breathe into tight areas, and encouraging deep muscle and connective tissue elongation.
4. Find an Instructor You Love
The right guide can make or break your morning yoga routine. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave your house to hit the studio unless you enjoy the camaraderie. However, feel free to attend a rise-and-shine class if the shared practice bathes you in yummy positive vibes for the day.
You’ll also find no shortage of apps. Some of today’s top fitness apps include yoga practice as part of a well-rounded set of offerings, while others focus only on the ancient art.
5. Focus on Your Spine
Your spine is your lifeline. Unfortunately, your back can stiffen up while you sleep. Work out the kinks when you first arise during your morning yoga routine.
What moves should you do? Cat-cows work both flexion and extension of your spine. Matsyendrasana twists can provide the “aah” sensation of a good crack, and child’s pose elongates your upper back muscles.
6. Gradually Build Energy
Even if you prefer a more energetic style, start slow. Even invigorating Ashtanga begins with simple sun salutations before working you into deeper stretches.
Follow the same rule in your morning yoga routine. You might even discover that getting your heart pumping with a bit of cardiovascular activity and dynamic stretches helps you manage deeper poses. Try doing a few squats or jumping jacks to get your blood flowing.
Pay attention to your wrists, especially if doing moves like jump-backs into planks. A few circles before you begin your practice can keep you from getting achy at the keyboard later in the day.
Establishing a Morning Yoga Routine
The first moments of your day set the mood for the rest of it. How can you wake up happier?
Why not adjust your mindset with a morning yoga routine that gives you time to reflect and set an intention for your day? Use the tips above to establish your practice.
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