Most mornings, we hit the snooze on our alarm several times, go down the social media rabbit hole and check our emails. When our cell phones are practically glued to our faces, we often see social media posts that can trigger stress. This is one of the reasons sleep experts say not to check the internet first thing in the a.m.
Most people have a full morning ritual, healthy or otherwise. Sometimes it’s as simple as waking up, indulging in a quick stretch, showering and brushing our teeth. If you don’t have a thing going, you sure should, because incorporating a healthy morning ritual is an effective way to ease anxiety and cope with daily stress.
Yoga in and of itself is known to promote relaxation and better sleep as well as soothe sore muscles and alleviate stress. Life is hectic, and we often forget to stop and breathe—really breathe, with deep inhalations and exhalations.
When you practice yoga on a consistent basis, you’re more prone to utilizing deep breathing techniques—the same slow, deep breaths you use during yoga—in moments of distress.
Yoga in general aids in relaxation, but there are also specific poses, otherwise known as asanas, that are specifically intended to reduce stress.
Plantie wants to share our seven-minute morning yoga ritual with you, so you can experience more composed days and calmer nights. By practicing the following yoga poses every morning, you’re bound to better meet those little situations and microaggressions that induce stress and otherwise try to throw you off your game.
Standing Forward Fold
When you practice a standing forward fold, you’re giving the entire backside of your body a nice stretch from head to heels. This is an inversion position, meaning that your head is below heart level, which promotes relaxation and calmness. This asana will open and stretch your hips—the part of the body known for carrying emotional tension.
- Stand tall in mountain pose with your feet several inches apart and take a nice deep inhalation while you distribute the weight of your feet evenly onto the floor.
- Lift your sit bones towards the ceiling while folding your body forward, until your knees are straight and all of your fingers make a connection with your yoga mat. Make sure you don’t hyperextend your knees, as this can lead to injury.
- For beginners, remember that there is no such thing as perfection in yoga. You’re welcome to bend your knees so your hands can comfortably meet the ground.
- Remain here and relax for one minute while breathing in slowly for four seconds and exhaling deeply for five seconds.
Warrior II Pose
Warrior II is known to provide a sense of strength and empowerment. Many registered yoga instructors, myself included, are confident this pose can ease stress and help you maintain a more positive outlook throughout the day.
- Unroll one vertebrae at a time after spending one minute in a standing forward fold.
- Following your next exhalation, separate your feet four-to-five feet away from each other.
- Raise your arms so that they are parallel with your yoga mat—or thick carpeting if you don’t own a mat quite yet. Keep your hips centered and your core, thighs and arms fully engaged.
- Relax your shoulders without allowing them to creep up towards your ears, and face your palms downwards.
- Turn your right foot towards the front of the room and keep your left foot at a 45 degree angle. The right foot should be aligned with the middle of the left.
- Gaze over your right arm and bend into your right knee until it reaches a 90 degree angle.
- Breathe here for one minute, and then repeat on the opposite side for another minute to maintain consistency.
When people practice balancing asanas like tree pose, they tend to concentrate on maintaining that balance rather than the stress that life can trigger. When we think about trees, we know that they are rooted, strong and powerful. When practicing this pose in the morning, you’ll feel grounded and centered with your feet evenly distributing pressure onto the mat, much like roots.
- From Warrior II, bring your feet back together so that they’re two-to-three inches apart.
- Stand tall and elongate your spine and back, with your arms beside your body.
- Take several deep, slow breaths—four second inhalations and five second exhalations— then find an object in front of you to focus on. Having a focused gaze, or drishti, will improve your concentration and balance.
- Shift your weight into the left leg and raise your right foot off the floor. Align the sole of your right foot with your left inner thigh (you can place your foot against your left inner calf if that’s more comfortable.)
- When you find the positioning that is best for you, point your left toes downwards and keep your hips facing the front.
- Bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your heart and then extend your arms—or branches—upwards.
- Remain here for one minute before repeating on the opposite side for the same amount of time. There is no need to worry if you fall out of the pose—simply follow the steps to bring yourself right back up again.
Whether you complete a one-hour yoga class or opt to practice a few poses each morning, the final resting posture all yogis perform is corpse pose—otherwise known as savasana—a restorative position. This pose relieves physical and mental tension, builds resilience you can use in your everyday life, and helps maintain happiness and a more mindful perspective.
- Lay down on your back and spread your arms and legs 45 degrees away from the rest of the body.
- Close your eyes, relax your face and unclench your jaw. While breathing in and out through your nose, notice your limbs become heavier and heavier, as if they’re melting into the mat.
- Feel your body rise and fall with each breath. When you notice thoughts popping into your mind, acknowledge them and then let them go.
- Rest here for two minutes to complete your seven-minute morning yoga ritual. This practice will allow you to feel rejuvenated throughout the remainder of your day.