It is a simple fact that some people find mornings to be more difficult than others. It is often much more tempting to snooze the alarm clock than it is to jump out of bed ready to launch into your morning!
If you find it tricky to get going first thing, then finding ways to get up in a great mood can make all of the difference to your day!
You may find that your body is much more receptive to yoga (and exercise in general!) in the morning. Your energy levels have been reset and your mind is ready for a brand new day of challenges and experiences. If you wake in a positive mood, then it can be much easier to take this positivity with you throughout the rest of your day.
Today I want to share one of my favourite yoga poses for my morning practice, and also talk a little bit about why this is such a good choice for doing before anything else in the morning.
Sun Salutations, also known as Surya Namaskar, are a fantastic choice for welcoming the day. That's not to say that they are the only yoga sequence you should give your attention to in the mornings, but that they should certainly be included regularly.
There are several variations of this popular pose, meaning that you can experiment to see which one invigorates your morning the most.
Read on to discover the traditional Sun Salutation sequence and give it a go yourself.
Ready to Master Surya Namaskar?
Begin by standing tall in Mountain Pose, relax your shoulders and push your thighs back gently. Breathe in as you bring your arms straight up above your head towards the ceiling to hold an upward salute at the top with both hands.
Breathe out as you fold your body forwards to bring your finger tips to rest on the ground. Your hips should be directly above your heels.
Breathe in as you bring your finger tips a few hands in front of you on the mat and move your body up slightly until your back is parallel with the floor. You can also choose to place your hands on your shins at this point if it is uncomfortable to have the tips of your fingers on the floor.
Breathe out and bend at the knees as you rest your palms flat on the floor, and bring your body into Plank Pose. Engage your core, keep your gaze forwards and extend your heart through your chest.
Breathe in as you bend your elbows and tuck them in close to the sides of your body as you lower yourself closer to the ground.
Breathe out as you engage your core and lift your shoulders away from the mat. If you find this part to be too challenging, then you can bring your chin, chest, and knees down to rest on the mat to support your body.
Breathe in as you move your feet so that your toes go backwards and the tops of your feet come down to rest on the mat. From here you can lift your thighs up off the floor and straighten your arms to push your torso upwards and open up at the chest.
Breathe out as you roll your toes back and lift your hips up, entering Downward Facing Dog Pose. Hold your body here for five deep breaths in and five deep breaths out. As you hold the pose, make sure you are pushing your thighs back and pulling your ribs in towards your spine.
On your last exhale of the five deep breaths, you can bend at the knees and either jump or step both feet forwards closer to your hands. Straighten your legs and bend your back so that it is parallel to the floor, with your arms stretched straight down, and bring your finger tips to once again rest on the mat.
Breathe in as you lengthen through your arms to your finger tips and visualise your heart growing and taking up space throughout your chest.
Breathe out as you fold your body forwards over your legs and allow your head to hang down towards the ground. Your hands should still firmly be in contact with the mat. Ensure that your hips are over your heels and your core is elongated.
Breathe in as you bring your gaze up and extend your arms out wide to either side of your body. Lift your body up from the chest so that you are in a standing position and then bring your arms up overhead in an upwards salute. Push your palms together at the top with straight arms.
Breathe out as you slowly release your arms down to rest at your sides, returning your body to Mountain Pose.
You have now completed one Sun Salutation. You can repeat this sequence as many times as you desire, however, I would advise starting with four or five rounds. You can then increase the number of times that you repeat the sequence as you get used to doing it in the mornings.
Although they are a fantastic way to start your day, Sun Salutations are also great to flow through in the evenings as you are winding down for a peaceful sleep. If you are practicing Sun Salutations in the evening, then I would always recommend ending your practice in Savasana to fully rest and relax your body and mind.
Sun Salutation Benefits
Enhancing the flow of energy around your body is one of the greatest benefits of practicing Sun Salutations first thing in the morning. Once you get past the first three or four rounds you will surely start to feel your heart rate increasing and your energy picking up.
As your energy flows, and eases up emotional blockages throughout your body, your circulatory and digestive systems can also begin to feel the benefits.
Strengthening, lengthening and toning your muscles will come naturally with a daily Sun Salutation practice. Flowing through this sequence in a repetitive way will primarily work to open the shoulders and chest, as well as the hamstrings, whilst also releasing built up tension from these areas.
Although the shoulders, chest, and hamstrings may be the focus of much of these movements, the muscles of the entire body will benefit by embracing Surya Namaskar as a regular part of your routine!
Sun Salutations are, in essence, a kind of moving meditation. This sequence encourages you to experience your body in synchronisation with your breath. In order to flow through the poses, you must allow the breath to lead you, and you will therefore be building the connection between your body and mind.
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