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Published on June 27, 2019

15-Minute Morning Yoga Routine for Beginners

15-Minute Morning Yoga Routine for Beginners

Is this usually how your morning begins? You hit snooze, roll over a few times, and groggily wake up and stumble your way to the coffee pot; or maybe you get woken up by kids, pets, or significant others who are running late and have now jolted you wide awake into a frenzied panic…

It seems as though our morning routines are hardly as gentle as we’d like them to be.

A part of that is natural – we have real lives to live, that often require practical solutions. We have families and jobs that demand our precise attention, and no matter how much we plan, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for everyone and everything, let alone yoga time or physical exercise.

In our effort to juggle all of the tasks a typical day throws at us, it’s not surprising that our energy may be low and our attitude about heading into our day may not be enthusiastic.

Fortunately, creating a morning routine doesn’t have to push all of our other priorities out of the way, nor does it have to mean that we’re sacrificing sleep time for waking up super early and getting in a morning yoga practice. Shifting our tasks around to find 15 minutes of free time can drastically improve not only our physical health, but how we take on the morning to seize the day ahead.

In the following sections, we’ll explore how to create a beginner’s yoga routine that is flexible enough to accommodate any schedule and yoga physical ability.

1. Find a Space in Your Home for Morning Silence

This can also be a space in your office or hotel room, if you’re traveling. Creating a morning routine doesn’t have to anchor you to a house. It should be flexible and simple enough for you to take with you wherever you go.

Starting your day off in silence can mean the difference between a day that is running you, or a day that you run yourself. It allows you to sit with your thoughts and feelings upon waking up, and decide which ones you want to take into your day, and which ones are not going to serve your tasks and goals.

Find a space that is quiet enough, and where you can be alone. Turn off your phone or put it on silent if you know you’re going to be disturbed or distracted.

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And when you’re ready, sit comfortably – either on a yoga mat, bolster, or a chair. If you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor, prop yourself up so that your hips are higher than your knees, to ensure that your spine is long and straight.[1]

Close your eyes, rest your hands in your lap or on your knees, and tune into your breath, consciously. Notice how the inhale fills your belly and lungs, and rises up into your collarbones as you sip in as much air as you can; at the top of your inhale, gently pause. When you’re ready, ease into that exhale and notice how the lungs let go and the belly pulls in. Your only job here is to notice this breath cycle, over and over again.

If thoughts come in, as they naturally will, just acknowledge them. Say hello, and maybe even a “Good morning,” and then let the thoughts go, and return to your breath.

You can set a timer for 5 minutes, and just soak in this silence and breath awareness before anything else comes into your day. If an intention arises – a word or phrase that you think you’d like to take into your day ahead – say it gently to yourself and then open your eyes, when you’re ready.[2]

2. Do 2 Rounds of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations are repetitive in nature, as they allow us to not only feel our body in space and movement, but also to help us sync the movement with the breath. These postures in unison also help us energize the body and the energy, or prana, flowing through it.[3]

You can continue your yoga practice in the same space in which you found your morning silence. If, however, you need to change spots, feel free to do so.

Let’s first take a quick look at how to do the Sun Salutations in this video:

 

Unfurl your yoga mat, and step to the top, standing tall and proud with feet hip-width apart in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Tuck your tailbone gently, as your belly slightly engages, and your chest opens. Bring your chin slightly down and back, to open up the back of the neck, and let your hands come down by your sides, with your palms open to the front of your space. Take a deep breath in and out, rooting your feet down, like tree roots.[4]

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On an inhale, reach your arms up overhead, gazing up if comfortable, and as you exhale, begin to hinge from the hips as you swan-dive down to a Forward Fold.[5] Allow your neck and head to loosen as your upper body hangs here, and root your feet down into your mat to keep stable.

On an inhale, hinging from the hips, rise up into a Flat Back,[6] pulling your belly in toward your spine and keeping your neck long, as your hands rest on your thighs or hips; as you exhale, bring your palms down and step back into your first Plank.[7] Take a deep breath in as the core and glutes engage, and on your exhale, lower your knees and come all the way down to your belly, with your core still engaged and your elbows pulling to the midline of your body.

Keeping your palms down and legs together, inhale to rise up into Cobra Pose,[8] and as you exhale, lift up onto your hands and knees, and make your way into your first Downward Facing Dog.[9] Down Dog is a great pose for lengthening and stretching out those waking-up hamstrings, so bicycle-pedal out your heels to get into this stretch a bit more.

Keep your gaze between your feet or in the center of your mat, depending on what feels good for your neck. Stay here for 3 to 5 deep breaths.

On your next exhale, begin to walk your feet up towards your hands, coming back into that Forward Fold that we did at the beginning of this sequence. Hang there with your head and neck heavy, and maybe take opposite elbows and sway here gently side to side. You can always bend your knees as deeply as you need to here, if your hamstrings are tight.

Take a deep breath in, sending that energy to the back of your heart, between your shoulder blades, and on your exhale, like a rag doll, begin to curl your way up to standing. You may use your hands to walk them up your legs and back up to standing, but do keep your core engaged as you rise. Feel each vertebra, as they stack one on top of the other, re-building the spine as you go. Make your way back into Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Repeat this full sequence one more time, following your breath as you move.

3. Do Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 Standing Postures

Coming back into Tadasana, Mountain Pose, from your Sun Salutations, step back long onto your mat with your left foot, preparing for Warrior 1. Point the left toes to the upper-left corner of your mat, so that your foot is turned out, and bend into your right knee. Keep the bend at a 90-degree angle, or if you’re nursing a knee injury, back away from the bend slightly.

Make sure your hips are as squared as they can be to the front of the mat, and look down at your feet and imagine you’re standing on railroad tracks. This will mean that your stance is wide, giving your hips enough space to rotate. Reach your arms up overhead, biceps by the ears, or bending your elbows and creating “goal-post” arms if you need some more shoulder space. Looking upwards is optional. Tuck your tailbone and engage your belly, as you find 3-5 breaths here.[10]

Here’s a video that demonstrates Warrior I Pose:

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On your next inhale, bring your palms to touch at heart center. As you exhale, come into your Warrior 2, by adjusting your back left foot to have the toes point out straight to the left, with the pinkie-foot side paralleling the back of your mat. This will ensure that your hips are now able to splay open to the left a bit more. Keep the bend in your right knee, and extend your arms long to the front and back of your mat, palms facing down. Rest your gaze over your front middle finger, or if better, look out towards the left with a bit more neutrality for your neck. Take a peek at your right big toe, and make sure you can see it. If not, gently nudge that right knee a bit more over to the right. Find 3-5 breaths here.[11]

Here’s a video that demonstrates Warrior II Pose:

On your next exhale, cartwheel the arms down to the mat, as you step back to your Down Dog. Take a deep breath in, and on your exhale, walk your feet up toward your hands, and make your way back to Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Repeat this sequence on the other side, stepping back with your right foot.

4. Find Balance in Vrksasana, Tree Pose

Come back to standing in Tadasana, hands on your hips. Shift your weight to your standing left foot, as you begin to lift and bend the right knee. Square your hips, and root that left foot down into your mat, engaging the left glute muscle.

With your breath, begin to open the right knee to the right side, giving that right hip space to expand; when you’re ready, place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your calf or thigh. If you need extra support, place it against your ankle, with the right toe down for more stability. Leave your hands on your hips, or lift them up overhead to grow your branches. Rest your gaze and find your breath for 3-5 cycle.[12]

Take a look at this video and try to do the Tree Pose:

Repeat on the other side, lifting and bending the left knee.

5. Stretch with a Reverse Namaste

Come back to standing in Tadasana, this time, with your hands back behind you for either a Reverse Namaste[13] or simply grabbing opposite elbows or forearms.

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    6. Open Your Heart in a Standing Back Bend

    Stand tall with your tailbone tucked, and take a deep breath in, feeling the opening of your chest and shoulders. On your next exhale, lift up through your sternum and hips, as you lift the heart up and back towards the sky.

    Keep your gaze wherever is comfortable for your neck. If you are in a room, it’s helpful to keep it where the wall meets the ceiling. It’s more challenging to take deep breaths in this pose, so focus more on the exhales.

    For complete beginners, here’s how to do a Standing Back Bend:

    This posture is beautiful in releasing what no longer serves us, so let that surrender happen through your exhales. When you’re ready, keeping your core engaged, slowly make your way back to standing, with your head coming up last. Take a moment to center your balance, before moving on.

    7. Prepare to Have a Seat and Come into Savasana

    Slowly come down to have a seat, and roll down onto your back until you’re laying flat.

    Grab a couple of yoga blocks or pillows, and bring the soles of your feet to touch, as the knees come out. Place the blocks or pillows under your knees, and rest your head and shoulders down on the mat.

    Close your eyes and rest your hands on your belly to feel the breath coming in and out. Close out your practice here in Savasana, and stay for as long as you’d like.

    Check out the demonstration in this video:

    Final Thoughts

    A morning yoga routine doesn’t have to overwhelm your schedule or take too much time out of your morning. This sequence brings you back into tune with your breath and your body, and you can practice it anywhere for 15 minutes to energize and empower your day ahead.

    More Yoga for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Fezbot2000 via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Yoga Journal: The Pose of Happiness and Ease: Sukhasana
    [2] MindBodyGreen: The Power Behind Setting an Intention in Yoga
    [3] DoYouYoga: What is Prana?
    [4] Gaia: Tadasana: Mountain Pose
    [5] Yoga Basics: Standing Forward Fold
    [6] Yoga Journal: Standing Half Forward Bend
    [7] Yoga Journal: Plank Pose
    [8] Yoga Journal: Cobra Pose
    [9] Yoga Outlet: How to Do Downward Facing Dog in Yoga
    [10] Yoga Basics: Warrior 1
    [11] Yoga Journal: Warrior II Pose
    [12] Yoga Journal: Tree Pose
    [13] Style Craze: What is Reverse Prayer Yoga?

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    Aleksandra Slijepcevic

    Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

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    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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