Guest Author - Samantha Jackson
I've always felt that the best part of the day is the first hour upon waking (assuming that I didnít wake up late for an appointment). I purposely set my alarm clock an hour early before I have to get up just so that I can have the luxury of staying in bed getting a feel for the quiet house. And since I have seen the huge difference yoga makes in helping me become more calm and grounded, I have worked in about 15 minutes of morning yoga into my daily routine.
While twice-weekly yoga is better than none, you reap the best benefits by integrating it into your daily life. In the past three months that I have been laying out my mat, I noticed myself sleeping better, eating healthier and managing my time better. The last is what surprises me, actually.
Here are some of the poses (or asanas) that never fail to work out the kinks in my body and get me in a more tranquil state of mind, ready to face the day:
I like to start off with the Cat-Cow pose. This pose let's me stretch out the small of my back and it works essentially like a self-massage.
To do the Cat-Cow, you start by getting on all fours. Gently swing your neck backwards until you are staring into the ceiling while your back dips towards the floor. Then, as you swing your head down so you can stare into your belly button, arch your back upwards just like an angry cat would.
Next, I move into a Seated Twist. This time, itís the torso which gets relaxed. To do the seated twist, start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and move the left leg just like you would if you were trying to Indian sit, except that you take it further so that your left foot lies just beside your right hip.
Take your bent right leg and slide it so that your right ankle is wedged against the outside of your left leg with the knee pointing directly upwards to the ceiling. Take your left arm, bend it and use the elbow to push against the outside of your right knee. Take your right arm and place it a little behind you; use it to help you keep your balance. Twist as far as you can, holding the pose for half a minute. You should feel the stretch right along the sides.
Reverse the positions of your arms and legs to do the other side.
The last pose I'll describe today is the Camel pose. It will open up your throat, chest, and heart in the most amazing way. The camel pose starts off with you in a kneeling position, then you gradually bend back from the waist until your arms can reach the soles of your feet. If itís too difficult for you, just keep your hands on your hips and lean back until you feel stretching in your legs. You can also put a pillow or bolster in between your feet to give you support as you lean back.
Doing these three asanas (repeated to my liking) takes between 5 to 10 minutes. I spend the last 5 minutes of my routine just relaxing on my mat and thinking of the things that I am grateful for. It's a great way to start the day!