5 Exercises in 5-minutes: A Simple Yoga Routine to get your Body Moving in the Morning
My new video “5 Exercises in 5-minutes: A Simple Yoga Routine to get your Body Moving in the Morning ” on Instagram >>
There are huge benefits to doing yoga in the morning, which includes increasing blood flow throughout the body and increasing the amount oxygen to the brain, which consequently helps your focus and productivity through the day. For me personally, yoga as a standalone activity or in combination with short meditation and breathing exercises in the morning, genuinely make me feel more relaxed.
Below are 5 exercises that can be done for approximately 1 minute each (5-minutes total), and although are not as intensive as a full yoga session or workout they set the right tone for your body for the day and still have great benefits.
1. Cat-Cow Pose
I like to do this exercise first because it really opens up the spine, creates fluidity and allows for the breath and body to start to connect together, whilst also improving your strength and overall posture - especially if you spend a lot of time at a desk during the day.
Position: You enter the pose by kneeling on your hands and knees - shoulders should be directly above your wrist and knees directly below your hips.
How: Inhale into the cat position, arch the spine and bring the stomach inwards, and look towards your belly button. Then deeply exhale, curve your back with your stomach towards the ground, tilt your pelvis up, roll your shoulders back and gaze up to the sky (like a cow :D).
Repeat for approximately one minute. To intensify you can curl your toes under during the “Cow exercise” and one further step would be to have your toes curled under throughout the entire exercise with your knees off the ground: this places a heavy focus on your core and balance as well.
2. Downward Dog Pose
This is a yoga classic that everyone knows, but nevertheless is very effective. The Downward Dog elongates the spine, aids blood circulation, and strengthens your upper body, as you are using your arms for stabilization in the pose.
Position: Start on all fours, with hands shoulder width apart, your arms straight and curl under your toes. Take a deep inhale and on the exhale raise your hips and back to the ceiling by spreading your hands and fingers and pressing the floor away. You should be in a reverse V shape and ensure that you tuck your tummy in and keep your core tight. The priority is to keep your back straight, so if you need a slight knee bend or to be on your toes (but continue to try to root your heels towards the ground) this is better than rounding your back.
How: Hold the Downward Dog position for approximately 1 minute (or 2x 30 seconds) and continue to take deep breaths throughout, elongating the stretch where possible.
3. Pigeon Pose
This position is great for the lower back and hip flexors and gives them a deep stretch, which increases flexibility and can also improve digestion. The pigeon pose is also a natural position to transition to after the downward dog.
Position: Start on your hands and knees, and then bring your right knee to your right hand and your right ankle should be somewhere in front of your left hip - exact positioning will vary from person to person. Next, slide your left leg back so it is straight and point your toes. Finally, take a deep inhale and as you exhale, push off your fingertips to extend your spine, squeeze your belly button and draw your shoulders back. Remember to switch sides: left knee to left hand, and right leg extended backwards.
How: Hold each side for 30 seconds and on each exhale try to extend the stretch and release the tension in your hips. With this position you are achieving the first level of the pigeon pose, once you get comfortable with this, you can transition onwards. To advance the pose, take a deep breath and lower your stomach down towards your front leg, and lean your forehand on your hands (if your forearms are flat on the floor and elbows bent) or reach as far forward as possible.
Note: you should not feel any stress on the knee in this pose, so if you do, please check your positioning straight away and make the necessary adjustments. Also, you can use your glutes to ensure that you keep your hips level throughout the pose.
Note (Transition from Pose 3 to Pose 4): Whether it's between these exercises or other yoga exercises, the body’s transition from a seated position to a standing position should always be smooth and low in impact. I find it best to get onto your knees, curl your toes under and use your arms to start the body's motion upwards. The arms should then stay loose, and your head/neck relaxed in a hanging position, then slowly roll your back all the way up until straight and then you can return your head to its regular position. This actually activates the spine at the same time.
4. Side bends
These bring balance to your entire body, and whilst the other exercises are focused on the back, this is predominantly for strengthening the abdominal muscles and still working the spine flexibility at the same time! Win-win!
How: First, stretch your arms above your head and then hold onto each of your forearms. Take a deep breath and then lean to one side and breath out to deepen the stretch. Return to the middle and repeat on the other side.
Repeat 5-10 times each side, you should be able to go slightly further each time and the muscles relax further. Note: Keep track of how far you go and try to make progress every day.
5. Torso Circles
I feel that it is best to close out this quick routine, to move a bit more, to rotate everything out and it’s a great natural follow-on exercise from the side bends.
How: put your arms out in front of you, like you are holding a large ball. Rotate your torso clockwise from the hips, leading with your left arm nice and relaxed. Following the natural flow of the left arm, do a full circle, leaning back and rotating as far as you can, whilst also opening the chest and then return to standing position. Repeat anti-clockwise and by letting the right arm lead the flow of the rotation. You should complete 5-10 torso circles in both directions, or until you feel nice and loose.
And that is all, 5 quick and easy yoga positions to start your day the right way - give this 5-minute routine a try for at least 1 week and let me know if you can feel a difference.
Look forward to hearing your feedback as always :)