The alarm on your smart phone sounds in the morning, which you pick up and turn off. As the phone is now at your hand, you bring it forward. You start to wake up from your nights sleep and have a quick look at Facebook or check your emails. Fortunate are we to live in our modern digital world where news and information are a click away on a screen that lives by our side. A few taps of the screen and you can connect with others in an instant.
How often do you start your day like this, flicking through social media or reading the news on your phone or tablet before getting ready for work?
With the increased connection to the world virtually, I wonder whether we lose the connection with ourselves.
Yoga is a practice of rediscovering that connection and learning to appreciate being in the present moment. This simple (and possibly now cliché) saying could not be more true in this digital age, as our busy minds tend to think of the past and the future.
Yoga should be considered a practice and will feel different every day. Deep concentration on your breath is focal to yoga which helps us to become more self-aware. When aligned with the physicality of yoga postures, it encourages contentment and relaxation.
Even 15 minutes in the morning concentrating on how your body feels that day, how your breath flows and feels, and turning inwards to listen to what you need, sets the tone for the rest of the day. I particularly enjoy these simple poses in the morning that leave me feeling refreshed and mentally clear.
Active child’s pose
Although this is a resting pose, making it active especially in the morning when your body is still stiff from sleep, feels amazing. The basic pose starts off sitting on your knees. Open your knees just wider than your hips and stretch your arms out straight in front of you, placing your forehead gently on the ground. Ensure toes are untucked and big toes touching, neck is relaxed and slow deep breaths will sooth and soften you into this position. Notice what happens when you press your palms into the floor. The gentle stretch you will already feel down the sides of your body intensifies. Now attempt to draw your hips back and down towards your toes, feeling as if you are being stretched in opposed directions. This is active child’s pose. Enjoy the lengthening of your upper body, opening of your shoulders and slow release of your hip abductors.
An early morning release for your spin and lower back after child’s pose. With a generous bend in both legs and feet hip distance apart, fold your torso over your legs to rest on your thighs. Hold on to each elbow with oppose hands and completely relax your neck. The weight of your relaxed head and elbows do a beautiful job of lengthening the whole spin. Maintaining this bend, find equal balance of weight in both feet. Then as you hang there, attempt to gently draw your hip creases to the sky - good morning hamstrings! Slow, deep breaths will help you to relax here, and you might feel your lower back and spin gradually release. When you are ready, let go of your elbows and roll up very slowly to stand. Bliss. I usually stand here for a few seconds rolling my shoulders back and down and feeling the alignment of my whole body in this standing pose.
Cat and Cow
Drop down onto hands and knees, ensuring knees are right above hips and shoulders are right above wrists. Feeling the length of your neutral and straight spine here, gently draw your belly button towards your spin to engage your core slightly. This pose is best done with a deep focus on your breath. Letting your breath be your guide, inhale through the nose. As you do, drop your belly to the ground and lengthen your chin towards the sky – cow pose. On an exhale, start to roll your pelvis towards your bellybutton and tuck your chin towards your chest. Pressing down into your hands, experience that beautiful counter stretch of your spine – cat pose. Repeat cat and cow as many times as feels good. The warming of the spine and movement aligned with your own breath should be truly relaxing. Finish back in a neutral spine when you are ready and sit back into child’s pose.
Tomorrow morning, when the alarm on your smart phone goes off, try hopping out of bed for 15mins of light stretching and deep focus on your breath. Offer your mind some peace and quiet before you commit to the day’s agenda, minimising the clutter of your thoughts, and tuning in to what your body needs on that particular day. I hope you feel lightness and vigour that lasts the whole day.
*Note that care must always be taken when practicing yoga at home. Basic yoga learned with a qualified teacher is recommended.
About the author
Founder of Yoga & Social, Kristy is besotted with yoga and the outdoors. She combined the two to create outdoor summer events offering healthy picnic styled breakfast and yoga in inspiring outdoor locations. Her events can be found on her website www.yogaandsocial.com or Facebook - @yogaandsocial.