This post was originally written for TLC! Check it out here: http://www.tlc.com/tlcme/10-minute-wake-up-yoga-how-to-get-your-body-going-in-the-morning/
Even though my best creative hours are in the morning, generally between 8-11am, I have a hard time waking up. My best friend calls my 30-45 minute slow wake-up ritual the LamSnooze. I like the dreamy in-between time!
When I do get up, my body likes to move. I feel my best when I can exercise in the morning, or at least get a short at-home yoga session in. These are some of my favorite go-to morning poses which can be done in as short as 10-minutes while your coffee brews :)
1. Cat and Cow Pose
Cat and Cow are classic yoga warm-up poses. They'll help you wake up your spine and your brain.
Make sure to focus on your breathing as you move between these two shapes. Begin on hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your arms will be long and about shoulder-width distance apart, maybe even a bit wider to give your chest some space. Your wrists should be directly underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers out, distributing weight evenly between all four corners of the palms.
Starting with Cow Pose: As you inhale, draw the center of your chest forward through your arms. Your butt will tilt upwards and your belly will gently relax. Gaze forward.
Moving to Cat Pose: As you exhale, press into your palms as you arch and round your spine. Allow your head and neck to fully release. Feel your abdominal muscles engage as you draw your belly up and in towards the front of your spine.
Continue to move through these two poses, matching the movement to your inhales and exhales. Repeat for 10 rounds of breath.
2. Downward Facing Dog and Plank Poses
Downward Facing Dog and Plank are two wonderful poses for warming up your entire body.
Starting with Downward Facing Dog: Begin in tabletop position. Tuck your toes and lengthen your legs as you raise your hips high. Your feet should be about hips-width distance apart. If the backs of your legs feel tight, keep your knees slightly bent so you don't strain your hamstrings. Don't worry about your heels touching the floor--they don't need to, and that's OK!
Moving to Plank Pose: Keeping your arms as strong and straight as possible, roll out to Plank Pose. The top of your head is forward with your gaze about a foot in front of your hands. Engage your abdominals and your legs to support your body. Stay here for three breaths.
Begin to move between Down Dog and Plank, linking one breath per movement. Use your inhales to roll forward to Plank and your exhales to lift the hips up and back to Down Dog. Take 10 rounds of breath.
3. Low Lunge Two Ways
Your hips, hamstrings, and low back work to support you all day long, so giving them the chance to gently stretch first thing in the morning can help prevent feeling tight later in the day.
These two variations on low lunge can be held for 3-5 breaths on each side. Once you are comfortable with the poses on their own, you can move between the shapes like the other poses in this series. For both versions, always make sure your front knee is stacked directly over your ankle. This will help you to avoid any injuries.
For Crescent Lunge: Place your back knee on the floor for support. Inhale to lift your chest and arms up. Keep your belly and ribs in towards your body so you don't over-arch your low back.
For Revolved Lunge: Erin suggests using a yoga block (or a stack of books) under your hand to give your upper body more space to breathe. Lengthen your back leg fully as you raise your top arm upwards. Look any direction that feels best in your neck.
4. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is great because of its versatility. It can be used to calm you down or get you going. This active version will energize your body, open your shoulders, and strengthen your hamstrings and glutes.
Start on your back with your arms by your side, palms face down. Bend your knees and stack them directly over your ankles. Your feet should be hips-width distance apart.
As you inhale, press down into your feet, lifting your hips and raising your arms up overhead. Don't worry if the backs of your hands don't touch the floor, carefully explore the range of motion in your shoulders, especially early in the morning.
As you exhale, lower your shoulders, mid back, and hips back down to the floor. Lower your arms at the same pace. Repeat for 5 to 10 rounds of breath cycles.
5. Seated Meditation
Every practice session, no matter how short, should have an intentional end. Seated meditation is how Erin likes to close out. Find a seat that feels comfortable for you. Soften your gaze or close your eyes as you scan your body to see how it feels after practicing. Feel your breath moving easily in and out of your body.
Thank yourself for making the time to move in the morning and set an intention for the rest of your day.
Slowly get up and make a cup of coffee :)