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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

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

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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

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                      Tessa Koller

                      Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

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                      Last Updated on October 4, 2021

                      5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

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                      5 Best Exercises for Weight Loss at Home

                      With the lines of work and home becoming increasingly blurry, it’s no wonder why we struggle to find the time to prioritize our health. Particularly with weight loss, it’s often difficult to manage the ever-present constraints around work, children, time to exercise, and the feeling of exhaustion at the end of the day.

                      Taking the effects of stress and the rise of remote work and work-from-home situations, we need to be far more tactical in our weight loss pursuits. Quite often, these exercises for weight loss at home aren’t even fitness-related.

                      Firstly, let’s look at a standard day in the life of a busy professional or parent to really understand the battlefield in which we need to operate.

                      We all have 24 hours in a day to work with. Knowing how we spend that 24 hours is crucial when learning where time will be best spent for our weight loss journey. Setting unrealistic expectations can be a quick way to end up back at square one.

                      • Sleep: 8 hours (parents, if you’re lucky)
                      • Work: 8 hours (sometimes more)
                      • Children: 2 to 4 hours (includes pickups, drop-offs, and play)
                      • Meal Preparation: 1 hour (at a minimum)
                      • Household Activities: 1 to 2 hours (because someone’s got to do it, right?)
                      • Total: 20 to 22 hours

                      Taking into account that switching between tasks takes time and cognitive space, we can start to understand why people just want to sit and scroll through social media at the end of a day. We also haven’t factored in the work commute if you have to report to the office.

                      Just realized you now have minimal time to yourself? This might start to explain why you struggle to gain momentum in your weight loss journey. Let’s work out how to take back the initiative:

                      • Automate – Are there any tasks you can automate? If you’re fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, maybe it’s time to hire a cleaner or have ready-made meals delivered to your door. It doesn’t have to happen every night, but removing the decision of “what’s for dinner?” can be a great way to reduce stress and free up brain space and time.
                      • Optimize – If you’re time-poor with kids, it’s time to optimize your activities. Turn screen time into playtime outdoors, and get them to join in on your activities. If your children are old enough, it might be time to start offering pocket money for chores and meal preparation. This strategy helped me stay fit as a single parent. By getting out and active with my son, I doubled my return on investment by staying fit and enhancing my relationship.
                      • Eliminate – We’re only human. Sometimes, we simply have too much on our plate due to our high expectations. Take a look through your daily tasks and work out what can be removed.

                      Now, go through this exercise yourself. What potential spare time do you have to work with? If the answer is none, you might want to keep reading.

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                      Exercise Selection: It’s Not All About the Burn

                      No equipment? No problem.

                      So, we’re finally tracking the elements that matter. It’s time to start leveraging exercise to accelerate our weight loss journey. Alongside focusing on individual exercises that help with weight loss at home or caloric expenditure, we’re going to focus on another method to help keep you consistent and accountable for the long term: interest.

                      Interest has been linked as one of the key motivating factors to maintain consistency towards a goal. By choosing a form of exercise that your body and mind can enjoy, your chances of weight loss success are far greater.

                      Here’re the 5 best exercises for weight loss at home:

                      1. Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

                      Maybe the body isn’t what it used to be, and intense forms of training simply just aren’t safe anymore. Also considering the body’s response to stress, it might be in our very best interest to choose low-intensity activities that we can repeat daily.

                      Mobility and movement flows have risen in popularity in recent years. This form of exercise focuses on restoring range of motion (ROM), improving stability, and returning people to activity. Some exercise options include:

                      • Quadruped Rocks
                      • Frog Stretch
                      • Hip Prying
                      • Scapula Push-ups
                      • Hindu push-ups

                      Below is a 10minute warm-up flow that shows you how to put all of this together:

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                      2. Yoga

                      Yoga is another perfect example of LIIT methodology that can be advanced as your ability improves. Focusing on mobility, stability, and range of movement using only your body weight, it’s a perfect entry-level activity for those that may have lost their way on their weight loss journey.

                      3. Calisthenics

                      Strength training at home can be difficult when you lack equipment or experience. An obvious path to building strength at home is calisthenics. Starting with just the following basic bodyweight movements:

                      You can begin your journey with no equipment and build to quite an advanced level. Here are five movements you can look to master over time are:

                      Depending on your ability, choose movements that allow you to progress safely over time. There is also gymnastics-based training you can move towards if your body is ready for a more demanding form of training.

                      4. Aerobic Exercise

                      Another underrepresented form of exercise, aerobic exercise is often overlooked for its sexier counterparts like strength and HIIT. With the prevalence of obesity nearly tripling between 1975 and 2016 and the major cause in adults being cardiovascular disease, it makes sense to focus on activities that improve cardiovascular or heart health.

                      Another benefit is that it can be as simple as getting your steps in, going for a swim, or going for an easy ride or run. Phil Maffetone pioneered the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method that almost anyone can adopt regardless of fitness level and experience.[1]

                      Here’s a 30-minute session of aerobic exercises you can try:

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                      5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

                      High-intensity interval training is a great way to elevate the heart rate and get the endorphins flowing. It can also be super time-effective, giving you a great bang for your buck. Try sequencing some of the movements and exercises above together with minimal rest to keep your heart rate elevated. Be sure to select movements that suit your current level of fitness and ability.

                      Here’s a HIIT workout that takes little time and is suited for any level:

                      Chipper 60

                      Complete all reps of every exercise for time. Exercises can be done in any order and repetitions to complete the workout.

                      If you can’t do jump squats, regress to normal squats, and don’t be afraid to change the leg raises to a 60-second plank if you need to. Finish up with some light stretching or foam rolling.

                      What Also Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Stimulants

                      Sleep, stress, and stimulants, also known as the hamster wheel of death. Tracking these elements gives us the power to finally stop relying on our ever-depleted stores of discipline and motivation to get the job done. It will also highlight the self-destructive habits that sabotage your weight loss journey.

                      Simply put, stress affects stimulants, sleep affects stress, and the vicious cycle continues.

                      Sleep

                      Are you getting enough sleep? It’s well documented that sleep is an important factor in weight loss and recovery.

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                      “Restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.”[2]

                      Start this journey by tracking how much sleep you’re getting. Certain wearables can also track the amount of movement and time you spend awake or in lighter sleep cycles. Getting enough time in REM or deep sleep is critical for weight loss.

                      Stress

                      We don’t need to be fancy. A simple daily measurement out of ten indicates how much stress we think we are under. Using this number, we can observe the effects that sleep, stimulants, and exercise have on our stress levels, allowing us to deploy the right strategy for our weight loss goals.

                      Stimulants

                      Stimulants can be classified as anything we put in our mouths. Tracking calories, alcohol, and caffeine is a great way to observe, predict, and avoid trends or at-risk periods of overeating and destructive behaviors. Tracking this is aligned with how well we sleep, and our stress response gives us enough information to start forming better weight loss habits.

                      Work to identify the trigger, observe the response, and then look to adjust.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Whether you’re fighting fit or returning to activity, the best exercises for weight loss at home are the ones that you can do day in day out that you enjoy. Think of exercise for weight loss as we do for compound interest. Consistently and regularly making deposits may not show immediately, but with time, they give you the momentum you need to reach your goals.

                      Featured photo credit: Olivia Bauso via unsplash.com

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                      Reference

                      [1] PhilMaffetone: Maximum Aerobic Function
                      [2] SleepFoundation.org: Why is sleep so important to weight loss?

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