It’s early morning and somewhere in our green world, birds are singing, fresh breeze is swaying. You haven’t checked your emails or phone notifications as yet and you have a few moments of peace before the day takes over. Here lies your chance to breathe in all the goodness of a bright morning, says Delna Mistry Anand!
Greet the morning
There’s nothing like a breath (or two) of fresh air, as soon as you wake up. If you live around greenery, open out your windows and let in the fresh air. If your home faces buildings, well then close your eyes and visualize a beautiful landscape; green trees, blue skies, giant mountain ranges, and draw three long and stretched breaths in and out. Your sunrise thoughts and actions are the most important as they set the tone for the rest of your day. If you can spare a few more minutes, then bring a quick yoga routine in.
1. Side stretch
Sit in a comfortable position; slide your left arm towards the left side of your body, with your palm and fore arm completely touching the earth. Inhale and raise your right arm up over your head and look towards it. The shoulder of the arm raised should be behind so as to open the front of the body. The hips should never leave the floor. Remember to keep your spine long and straight and do not lean your body forward or backwards. Your body should lengthen rather than stretch.
Hold for 3 breaths and come to centre, repeat in the other side. Repeat this stretch 2-3 times on each side.
2. Cat Cow
Come down on your hands and knees, making sure your ankles and shoulders are in one line, as are your knees and hips. Spread each finger wide, feeling each knuckle and finger pad on the earth to distribute the weight into the hands and not strain the wrists. Your knees are hip distance apart. Inhale and go into Cow, head and tailbone are raised, belly is dropped towards the earth and heart extends forward. Exhale into Cat, arch the spine upwards, tuck the chin towards your chest and draw navel in towards the spine.
Repeat ten times. This is a wonderful stretch for your back and instantly eradicates stiffness. It also improves posture and balance, strengthens and stretches the spine and neck, stretches the hips, abdomen and back and massages and stimulates the organs in the belly, (such as kidneys and adrenal glands). Additionally this pair of poses, which always go hand in hand, also helps to create emotional balance, coordination and calms the mind.
3. Downward facing dog
From Cat Cow, tuck your toes under and lift tailbone towards the sky. Drop head down and push into the hands (don’t forget to keep your fingers spread out wide) to lengthen your spine. Pull navel in towards the spine and gently press soles of feet down into the earth. Hold this pose for at least one minute.
Downward dog has lots of health benefits; since it is an inversion, it completely wakes you up. It also boosts circulation, builds up bone density and eliminates stiffness in the shoulders and upper back.
4. Tree Pose
Walk your hands back towards your feet, and using your hips raise yourself into standing position. Keep feet hip distance apart and spread the toes wide to help plant yourself firmly on Mother Earth. Slowly shift weight onto one foot and raise the other foot placing the sole of the foot either on your ankle, or inner thigh ( never on the knee). Keep your core engaged and find your balance. Raise arms into Namaste at heart centre or raise overhead. Hold for a few breaths and change to the other leg.
This pose leaves feeling refreshed. It stretches the legs, back and arms, bringing balance and equilibrium to your mind. It makes the legs strong, improves balance, opens the hips and is known to help those who are suffering from sciatica.
End your routine by lying down for a few moments. Yes, this is a pose too and it is called Shavasana.
5. Wheel Pose
In case you want to add an additional pose before you go into Shavasana, you could do the wheel pose or Chakrasana. Chakrasana is a very good pose for strengthening the neck, wrists, finger tips, spin, thighs, ankles, feet and the back; and is one of the best asanas to reduce weight. It also strengthens the liver, pancreas and kidneys and is very good for people who suffer from back pain. (However people with chronic injury to back, legs, arms, hips or shoulders should refrain from doing this pose. Also people with high blood pressure, detached retina or hyper tension and heart problems should avoid this pose).
Its best to do this pose in the morning or afternoon (avoid doing it in the evening).
First lie down comfortably on a mat on your back in Shavasana pose, then bend your knees until the feet touch the buttocks. Now bend your arms at elbows over the head and place your palms just under the shoulders on floor making sure your fingers are pointing towards your back. Inhale gently and raise your hands, chest, stomach and waist by arching the spine. Ensure that your palms and feet are pressing into the earth and try to raise your body as high as possible in wheel pose. After completing the process, reverse down the process for returning back to normal position in Shavasana posture.
And finally, lie down on your mat and take a few deep breaths to center your energies. Now that your body is stretched and your mind is at peace, set an intention for the day.
More and more people around the world are making short routines like this, a part of their morning ritual. Try it and see how differently your day takes shape !