Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Advertising

    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.

          Advertising

          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

                  Advertising

                    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

                      Good Sleep Habits You Need (And Bad Ones to Avoid) for Energy 10 Ways to Step Up Your Personal Growth and Succeed in Life Feeling Overwhelmed? Best 5 Meditation Apps to Destress During the Day 11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

                      Trending in Exercise & Training

                      1 15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine 2 10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation 3 15 Important Benefits of Stretching Before, After, and During a Workout 4 The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level) 5 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                      15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                      15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                      Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

                      Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

                      For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

                      Benefits of Static Stretches

                      Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

                      Improved Flexibility

                      If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

                      Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

                      Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

                      Prevent Injuries

                      If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

                      Think of it this way:

                      When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

                      Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

                      Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

                      For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

                      Advertising

                      However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

                      Improvement in Recovery

                      If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

                      Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

                      Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

                      Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

                      Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

                      • Improved relaxation
                      • Increased movement efficiency
                      • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
                      • Reduction in muscle tension
                      • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
                      • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
                      • Relief from cramping

                      15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

                      Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

                      1. Neck Stretch

                        While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

                        Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

                        2. Chest Stretch

                          Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

                          Advertising

                          3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

                          Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

                            Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                            4. Triceps Static Stretch

                              Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                              Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

                              5. Biceps Stretch

                              Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

                                Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                                6. Wrist Stretch

                                11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

                                  While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                                  7. Side Stretch

                                    Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                                    The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

                                    Advertising

                                    8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                                      Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                                      9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                                      Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                                        Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                                        Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                                        10. Knees to Chest

                                        Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                                          Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                                          11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                                          How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                                            Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                                            12. Figure 4 Stretch

                                            How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                                              Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                                              13. Standing Quad Stretch

                                                Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

                                                Advertising

                                                Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                                                14. Hamstring Stretch

                                                  Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                                  Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                                  15. Calf Stretch

                                                    Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                                    Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                                    Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                                    Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                                    When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                                    Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                                    This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                                    That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                                    Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                                    More Tips on Stretching

                                                    Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

                                                    Reference

                                                    Read Next