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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

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

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                      Last Updated on January 21, 2021

                      How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

                      How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

                      As a general rule, everyone wants to have a sexy and strong body, but no one wants to put in the work. We see a whole lot of excuses being thrown around every time fitness is mentioned, and it’s frightening that only about 3% of people in the US subscribe to the healthy living philosophy.[1]

                      That being said, have you ever stopped to think about why all these people fail to get in shape? Sure, there are some who are lazy, some with legitimate medical issues, and the readily available cheap junk food doesn’t help, but I think there is something more to it.

                      People are pressed for time, scared, and confused. Yep, it’s as simple as that. Most people either can’t make it to the gym, don’t have a lot of money to drop on long-term membership fees, don’t feel comfortable exercising around others, or they simply don’t even know what to do when they do get to the gym.[2]

                      Well, with a few useful tricks, some good information, and a bit of determination, you can create all the right conditions for building an impressive physique without ever leaving the house. Here’s a few things to have in mind:

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                      Fixing your posture and getting limber

                      The biggest issue most beginners have when they start working out is the fact that their bodies are so used to sitting scrunched up in front of a screen that they have trouble moving around freely. The human body can be amazingly limber and assume all kinds of positions, but for most people, this is going to require extensive work.

                      Start by gradually improving your posture over a few weeks, using small exercises, more ergonomic furniture, and just being mindful of how you stand, walk, and sit.[3] You can combine this with a short and sweet stretching routine, done about twice a day, to get your body ready to perform the basic exercises correctly.

                      Learning the basic movements

                      While there’s a lot of science behind both getting stronger and getting leaner, it can all be boiled down to a few core concepts and a number of the most effective exercises. Here are the best movements for overall development that you’ll need to master (you can find examples of how to perform all the exercises mentioned here on Bodybuilding.com):

                      • Squats: the king of all exercises, the squat builds most of your leg muscles with an emphasis on quads and glutes, if you go nice and deep like you should. It can be a good core and thoracic extension exercise if you hold some weight in front of you, as in the Goblet and Zercher squat variations.
                      • Lunges: a great exercise for the quads and glutes that also targets the hip extensors. It also teaches you to keep your balance.
                      • Pushup variations:[4] the pushup is so versatile that some call it “the poor man’s gym”. The standard close grip pushup works the triceps, front shoulders, and chest, while wider variations put more emphasis on the chest. Raising your legs pushes the focus towards the shoulders and the upper chest, while the handstand pushup is predominantly a shoulder and triceps exercise.
                      • Dips: another great exercise for the lower chest and triceps, this is an incredibly fun movement that can slap mass on you quickly when done correctly.
                      • Pull-ups and chin-ups: grab a bar, hang from it with arms almost fully stretched out, and then pull yourself up until your chin raises above the bar. This is a fairly straightforward, yet difficult movement that builds a big back, biceps, and forearms. Position your hands facing the head for more bicep activation, and go a bit wider with palms facing away from you to target the lats better.
                      • Rows/inverted row: a horizontal pulling motion that will add slabs of meat to your back and while improving that often lagging back head of the shoulder muscle. It even improves posture by strengthening the spinal erectors to an extent. You can bend over with the back straight and row a weight from the ground, with one or both hands, or you can grab the underside of a horizontal bar, feet on the ground, and pull yourself into it.
                      • Glute bridges: a great way to really isolate and work the butt. It also gets the hamstrings, which are often neglected by people working out at home.
                      • Floor hip extensions: a good addition that also focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, resulting in well-toned and balanced legs.
                      • Calf raises: the calf is a small muscle but an important one, especially for the ladies who want to look great in heels. It’s also easy to just throw in at the end of the workout.
                      • Planks, leg raises, and ab wheel rollout: of course, the abs need some attention too, but go for planks, hold for time, side planks, hanging or lying leg raises, and ab wheel rollout for the best results.
                      • The Superman: the spinal erectors need to be strong if they are to keep your back healthy, balance out those abs, and keep you nice and tight during most of the other exercises on the list, so definitely give this one a go.

                      Take a few weeks to just get the form down pat on all these movements and make sure that you are doing a full range of motion and slower, deliberate movements. Don’t just bounce all over the place. Establish and build momentum. You can use a good bodyweight strength training program to make sure you hit all the muscles, keep progressing, and get enough time to recover.[5]

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                      How to progress on bodyweight exercises

                      Now, if you want to have a great and lean physique — and this goes for ladies as well — you need to build some muscle to give your limbs that lovely shape you are after, before you can lose the excess flab, and expose that Greek statue of a body. Don’t try to combine endurance work with your strength exercises. Focus on building strength with the exercises above and dedicate some time every other day for things like swimming, jumping rope, or cycling to burn some calories and improve your cardio.

                      Okay, so the main question is, how does one progress on bodyweight exercises, short of gaining more weight to make them more challenging? Well, there’s a few things you can do. The first thing to do to challenge yourself is to add more reps.

                      The most important thing to remember, however, is that when you can easily perform 15-20 reps of an exercise and still have a few reps left in the tank, it’s time to make it more challenging by doing one of the following:

                      • Add an additional set. If you started at 3 sets of 5-6 reps and you’re now comfortable with 3 sets of 15-17 reps, then you can simply throw in a fourth set into the mix.
                      • Do it slower. Busting out 20 quick reps isn’t quite the same as doing 10 slow and controlled reps, where you can even add a short pause when your muscles are fully relaxed before contracting them for the next rep.
                      • Shorten the rest period between sets. 60-90 seconds is the sweet spot for resting between longer sets of 10-20 reps, but when things get easy, you can shorten this rest period progressively by 10 seconds, until you are only resting about 30-40 seconds between sets, to make it more difficult before moving on to a more challenging variation or adding weight.
                      • Move on to a more difficult variation. When you get comfortable, focus on a variation of the movement that provides a bit of a challenge, e.g. one arm on ball pushups and then single arm pushups, pistol squats, and so on.
                      • Add some weight. While you might not have access to barbells, you can always get a fairly inexpensive dumbbell set, a few different sized bags filled with sand, a backpack with some rocks, and even big water bottles and milk jugs will do the trick, just as long as you keep adding weight.

                      Work hard on your form, then try to go as hard as you can each session without overdoing it. I’d say stop a rep short of failure and rest until you feel you can go for another full set.

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                      Determining the type of cardio you need to do

                      Cardio is not that difficult to figure out and it basically boils down to a few simple rules, depending on your shape and goals:

                      • If you’re skinny and want to get sexy and muscular: Do light and steady cardio, like a brisk walk for an hour, 5-6 minutes of jump rope here and there, or even just 10 minutes of shadow-boxing or dancing every day. Don’t let it cut into your calories too much.
                      • If you’re a little overweight and want to lose 10 pounds or less and build muscle: It’s the same as the previous example, just add 2-4 more intense sessions of running, swimming, circuit training a week into the mix to cut the weight first. Revert to the previous example once you have lost the weight and recenter your focus on building muscle.
                      • If you’re seriously overweight and your main concern is cutting 20+ pounds: Again, it’s the same as the previous example, only you can go with even more intense workouts, or daily moderate cardio sessions of about 20-30 minutes for a while. Once you’ve lost most of the weight, revert to the previous example, and then to the first example when you’ve shed all the extra pounds you’d like to get rid of.

                      You can choose any activity that you like, from jump rope, cycling, and swimming to hiking and and other high-cardio sports.

                      A look at diets and keeping them reasonable

                      As far as the diet goes we’ll keep it extremely simple:

                      • Try to eat diverse vegetables with every meal
                      • Eat fruit, seeds, and nuts instead of sweets
                      • Go for lean meats instead of processed meat and cooked food instead of fast and fried food
                      • Start counting your macro nutrient intake[6]
                      • Cheat if you must, but keep these meals small, few, and far between

                      As long as you can stick with the program for about 80% of the time, you’ll be on your way to better health and an amazing body!

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                      DIY home gym basics

                      Some essentials that can help you get better results at home include:

                      • A dumbbell set
                      • Pull-Up bar
                      • Ab wheel
                      • Big ol’ sturdy bags filled with sand

                      You can do tons of great exercises with these simple tools, but if you can’t shell out for them right now, good alternatives include five gallon milk jugs filled with water, a bunch of books stacked in a backpack, using a friend/partner to lay on you, push, or pull to provide extra resistance, or just lifting heavy furniture and moving it around the room.

                      It pays to be creative. Look at how certain exercises are performed and on what type of equipment, and try to replicate it using household items. For example:

                      • Two chairs = dip station
                      • Anything that you can hang off = pull up bar
                      • A stack of large blankets on the floor = bench
                      • Stick and some rope = forearm exercise machine
                      • A towel wrapped on a bar or dumbbell grip = thick grip for hand and forearm strength
                      • Car = prowler device for pushing to build endurance and power in the legs

                      It’s all fairly cheap and you can get as creative as you like, just remember to be consistent with your training in order to see the results you wish to see.

                      All it takes is a little ingenuity and elbow grease, and you’ll set up a decent home “gym” and adopt some great habits along the way. It’s all about being consistent and trying to progress on each session, or at least each week, as you keep adding reps, using more complex movements, and adding weight, all while eating right for your current goals. Give it a shot and always remember, 90% of all this is your commitment and the intensity with which you attack these positive life changes.

                      Featured photo credit: Minna Hamalainen via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] The Atlantic: Study: Less Than 3 Percent of Americans Live a ‘Healthy Lifestyle’
                      [2] Men’s Fitness: 6 Not-So-Obvious Newbie Training Mistakes
                      [3] Perfect Postur: Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
                      [4] Men’s Fitness: The Top 15 Pushup Variations
                      [5] Men’s Fitness: 6 Bodyweight Workouts That Actually Build Momentum
                      [6] On the Regimen: How To Count Your Macros – A Comprehensive Guide

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