There’s nothing like relaxing in savasana for a few minutes at the end of a yoga class and then rolling out of the studio, light on your feet, without a care in the world. And while holding a pose may be your go-to for unwinding, it turns out your yoga practice can actually energize you, too. “Yoga has a lot to do with relaxation and calming down, but it can also be revitalizing, boosting your energy levels,” says Gloria Baraquio, yoga director at The Springs in downtown Los Angeles. “The key to maximizing energy is to get [your spine] moving, expand the heart and lungs, and move in a way that ‘massages’ your internal organs,” she says.
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The following five postures, suggested by Baraquio, as well as Bethany Lyons, cofounder of Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City, each deliver an espresso-like shot of a.m. energy — well before your morning coffee. Who knows — you might not even need that cup at all.
5 Yoga Poses That Will Instantly Energize Every Morning
1. Forward Fold
Why It Works: “A forward fold stretches your hamstrings while helping you focus and feel your presence,” says Lyons. It’s a great one to start with to help you get centered as you begin your morning.
How to Do It: Stand with feet hip-width apart, keeping knees slightly bent (a). Bend forward from the hips, making sure to keep hips stacked directly over your ankles (b). Pull your abs in toward your spine, letting your head hang and hold each elbow with the opposite hand. Take 15 deep breaths in and out of your nose.
2. Sun Salutation
Why It Works: This total-body flow warms up your upper back, shoulders, core, legs and butt. And if you pick up the pace, it really gets your heart pumping — and can even be a mini cardio workout, says Lyons. (All before you even hop in the shower!)
How to Do It: Start in downward dog. Hold for 10 deep breaths (a). Slowly step your feet to your hands, inhaling as you stand up. Step your feet together and inhale as you lift your arms directly overhead (b). Exhale and bend forward from the hips until your hands touch the floor or your shins, letting your head drop (bend your knees slightly if your legs feel tight) (c). Inhale and rise halfway, until your back is parallel to the floor, letting your hands rest on your shins as you look forward (d). Exhale and step or jump both feet back to a plank position (e). Lower to chatarunga (f). Then, inhale as you shift into cobra or upward dog (g). Exhale as you lift hips to downward dog, and hold for five breaths (h). Step or jump feet to your hands, and rise until your back is parallel to the floor (i). Exhale and fold forward, then inhale and stand, lifting arms overhead (j). Repeat the entire sequence 3 to 5 times.
3. Upright Cat/Cow
Why It Works: “This yoga posture, a seated version of the classic cat/cow move, is designed to move the prana or kundalini,” which is Sanskirt for ‘life force which flows through the spine,’ says Baraquio. Plus, when you rock back and forth, you’re activating your entire spine — without putting pressure on it.
How to Do It: Sit with your legs crossed and place hands on knees, shins or ankles (a). Inhale and arch your back, pushing your chest forward and rolling your shoulders down. Engage your abdominals (b). Exhale, rounding your spine and releasing your abs (c). Continue for about two minutes, focusing on each breath.
4. Reverse Plank Pose
Why It Works: Do you tend to hunch over at a desk all day? (Um, who doesn’t?) This pose counteracts that posture, opening your chest and sending oxygen to your heart — while warming up your legs, arms and core, too.
How to Do It: Sit with your legs extended in front of you, feet together, and palms on the floor about 12 inches behind your butt, fingers pointing forward (a). Inhale and lift your hips and belly up to the ceiling as you drop your head back, keeping palms pressed against the floor (b). Roll the shoulders back, opening your chest and heart (c). Hold for five breaths, and slowly release to return to starting position.
5. Ego Eradicator
Why It Works: The powerful inhalations and exhalations of Breath of Fire (more on this shortly) bring more oxygen to your brain and lungs to help wake up, says Baraquio.
How to Do It: Sit with your legs crossed and raise arms overhead to make a “V” (a). Actively point all your fingers and thumbs up toward the ceiling, then begin Breath of Fire, which is a two-minute sequence of quick, forceful breaths (b). Each inhale and exhale should take one second, max.
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