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Published on October 5, 2018

How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses)

How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses)

Morning yoga is the most energizing, transcending, and enlightening experience. Once you make it a daily habit, you’ll notice a wide variety of changes to your body, mind, and everything that makes you, you. For people with depression and anxiety, issues with healthy eating and other health problems may benefit from its healing properties.

Studies show that increasing flexibility can eliminate generalized or specific body pain. If you have chronic pain Fibromyalgia or are trying re-condition your muscles, regular stretching will ease stress and tension due to work or other stressful issues in your life.

How Practicing Yoga Every Day Changed My Life

Since I’ve made Yoga a habit, I’ve noticed a change in my overall mood. A strong mindset is everything if you want to sustain a positive outlook on the things that happen to and around you.

Your mind is one of the most important assets and keeping it in the right place will help you get through those tough curve balls life can throw at us.

Six years ago, I started doing yoga each morning and now I do it morning and night for about ten to twenty minutes. Bottom line: Yoga can save your life, and it did mine. Thank goodness I did that because three years ago, my lung collapsed on a flight and almost died. It was traumatic and scary but I focused on doing as much breathing as my lungs allowed.

But even in the midst of the scary situation, my Yoga-strength lifted me up and out of that chair so I could get to a hospital. Looking back, I see how Yoga carried me through the trauma.

Mental and physical strength go hand-in-hand but mentally, you have to be in a good mind-frame to move through those hardships.

5 Ways Morning Yoga Benefits Your Health

We can’t know when tragedy or hardships will strike. To understand how Yoga can transform your life, you must first know how it benefits you.

1. Mental Clarity

If you’ve ever looked at an ocean on a windy day and noticed busy, angry waves, you’ve probably also noticed that you can’t see the ocean floor even near the shore.

When our minds are busy with angry or turbulent thoughts, you can’t think clearly. Our thoughts or thinking paths we return to can be so destructive that our ability to function and work efficiently becomes encumbered.

Trouble in your work life may arise and leave you mentally exhausted from trying to keep up with everything and everyone. Being overwhelmed all the time will cause a burnout. A burnout essentially is when your mind and body surrender to the exhaustion and they both shut down.

Morning Yoga creates stillness in the mind which then leads to calmness which then leads to happiness. Twenty minutes of a stretch routine to focus on diaphragmatic breathing as you move with your body will target your anxiety and depression.

You can get overwhelmed at any time but when you establish any routine, you’ll be compelled to create more healthy routines such as snacking healthier, doing things that decrease your stress, and pre-planning so you can effectively tackle that ever-changing to-do list.

2. A Level Mood

Have you ever flipped out on something small, almost unnecessary and asked yourself, “Why did I blow my lid over that?” Did you find yourself in that inevitable situation of needing to explain yourself after? I think to some degree, we’ve all been there at one time or another.

When we’ve entered ‘flip out’ mode or have become irritable, that’s a sign of an imbalanced emotional state of mind. You’ll wind up self-sabotaging without realizing it or feeling like you can’t get everything done on time and so, you lose it.

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Our current moods reflect our emotional health and how we process life’s issues and mysteries.

Morning Yoga is a great way to strengthen your emotional health as it boosts your mood. Instead of keeping your emotions on a roller-coaster, do yoga, get off that up and down chaos and level out.

Think of your mood as a smooth ocean current, steady and still. A daily Yoga regimen will make you feel like you’re mind is floating on water.

3. Zap Cravings for Bad Foods

Those sugar cravings can arise at any time but between 2:00 and 4:00 P.M., they can sneak up on you. What you’re feeling is sudden fatigue or a dip in your alertness, which can occur if you’re not getting enough adequate sleep.

But if you do some Yoga poses such as lying down with your legs stretched up a wall or sitting on the floor and raising up your arms, those poses can help you eliminate those cravings.

4. Enhance Your Sleep Life

Developing a healthy sleep life, which includes morning and evening routines, are one of the ways morning Yoga can assist.

Balance means different things to everyone. Doing yoga each morning will enhance your sleep and aid in regulating brain activity.

When it’s night time, the brain produces melatonin. If you’re not allowing your brain the time to prepare for sleep, that can mess with your circadian rhythms and sleep cycles.

Doing Yoga each day is a wonderful form of meditation that directly affects your brain and mind simultaneously.

5. Sustain Stamina and Endurance Throughout the Day

Some people are more alert in the mornings while others are at night.

Yoga will sustain your physical stamina and endurance throughout your work day and all the way into the evening. This was one change I noticed the more I incorporated Yoga into my mornings.

As someone who has suffered chronic fatigue, Yoga rescued me and allows me to work hours on end and keep my focus on important tasks. I stopped having spurts of weakness in my muscles mid-day.

10 Yoga Poses for Beginners to Try

Now that you know how morning yoga can change your life, it’s time to get started or pick it back up again if you’ve stopped for a while.

Here are ten beginner poses (that will make a difference) for your flexibility, stress levels and overall well-being:

1. Cat and Cow

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    The Cat and Cow pose is perfect for restoring energy in your body and directly affects your spinal cord.

    First, plant your knees and hands on the ground, all fours, making sure that your shoulders align with your wrists and knees align with your hips.

    Inhale as you lift your head and buttocks while lowering your stomach. Exhale as you slowly lower your head, curve your spine and lower your tail bone.

    Breathe as you do these movements. With each breath, you’ll feel more of a range of motion and stress melting away.

    2. Plank

      The plank pose is great for strength. To do it, lie down on a Yoga mat and press your hands on it. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your toes are touching the mat.

      As if you are doing a push-up, lift your whole body off the ground, balancing on your hands which should align with your shoulders and your toes.

      Your body should look like a long board. I hold that pose for thirty or more seconds.

      3. Spinal Twist

        For the spinal twist, another favorite pose, sit down in staff pose on your mat. Bend your right knee and position your right foot beside your left outer thigh, touching the floor.

        Rotate your torso to the right and place your right hand on the floor behind your tail bone.

        With your left arm, wrap it around your right leg. Repeat on the opposite side.

        4. Downward-Facing Dog

          With downward-facing dog, think of the position as making a triangle with your body, and the floor is the bottom.

          Plant both feet close together and stick your buttocks up, the highest point of the triangle, and align your hands with your shoulders.

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          This stretch is great for the spine as well and will ease tension in your shoulder muscles.

          5. Crescent Lunge

            Make a ninety degree angle with your right knee. Stretch your left leg back behind you and reach your arms toward the ceiling.

            This exercise promotes strength and tones the lower body.

            6. Cobbler’s Pose

              Sit on the floor and position your legs as if they are butterfly wings.

              Your feet should be touching each other with your hands on your toes. Both of your knees should be bent.

              Slowly lean forward as far as you can and hold the pose.

              7. Warrior II

                Think of the Warrior II pose as a lunge but with your arms stretched out, one in front and one behind you, forming a T with your upper body.

                This pose addresses balance and flexibility.

                8. Reclining Goddess Pose

                  Lie down on the floor and bring your feet together, bending both knees, forming a wide diamond shape with your legs. It helps to have a pillow under your knees and lower back for extra support.

                  Once you’re lying down in that position, rest your arms beside your hips.

                  9. Low Lunge

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                    The low lunge pose is similar to the Warrior II pose.

                    Instead of forming a T with your upper body, stretch both hands up and over your head toward the ceiling.

                    One leg should be on the floor from the knee down and the other should be bent, forming half of a cube shape. This pose stretches your back and inner and outer thighs.

                    10. Bridge Pose

                      The bridge, I love, and I do this every morning and night after a long work day. The pose will align your spine and hips and addresses strength and balance.

                      Lie down on the floor or a mat and bend both knees, with feet planted on the ground.

                      Have your hands at your side and press them into the mat while raising your hips upward, creating a slight diagonal line with your torso, stomach and upper thighs. Keep your shoulders on the ground as much as you can.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Yoga is the best way to manage stress in your life. Stretching and using a Styrofoam roller will release the fascia in your muscles where the tightness and tension are stored.

                      Doing yoga in the morning is exercising your mind and body simultaneously. Diaphragmatic breathing in and out of poses regulates every system in your body, especially the central nervous system.

                      Your nervous system needs to be balanced and leveled so you can function at your optimal level.

                      If you’re functioning on overdrive or auto-pilot constantly, you will be mentally exhausted and drained more frequently, even without realizing it.

                      Morning Yoga is a resource for resetting all the systems in your body, stimulating blood flow and circulation, and recovering strained or tired muscles. It’s a way of eliminating those toxins we encounter in our environment as well.

                      Yoga has changed my life and I hope that after you read this, you try out a couple of these poses on your own and see how you feel.

                      Featured photo credit: Janet Orzechowski via unsplash.com

                      More by this author

                      Tessa Koller

                      Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

                      How to Spot Job Burnout and Cope with It 9 Happy Habits That Will Change Your Outlook and Your Life Make These 17 Health Goals Into Daily Habits for Better Overall Wellness How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses) Feeling Overwhelmed? Best 5 Meditation Apps to Destress During the Day

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                      Last Updated on August 12, 2019

                      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                      12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                      Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                      But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                      I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                      Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

                      1. Nuts

                      The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                      Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                      Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                      Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                      2. Blueberries

                      Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                      When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                      3. Tomatoes

                      Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                      4. Broccoli

                      While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                      Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                      Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                      5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                      Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                      The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                      Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                      6. Soy

                      Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                      Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                      Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                      7. Dark Chocolate

                      When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                      Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                      8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                      Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

                      B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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                      Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                      Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                      To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                      9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                      Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                      Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                      Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                      10. Gingko Biloba

                      This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

                      It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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                      However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                      11. Green and Black Tea

                      Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                      Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                      Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                      12. Sage and Rosemary

                      Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                      Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                      When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                      More About Boosting Brain Power

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                      Reference

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