September is National Yoga Awareness month. There are many benefits to yoga that help you align your mind, body and spirit. Some of physical benefits include increased flexibility, muscle tone and strength, energy and vitality, enhanced metabolism, weight reduction, cardiovascular health, and protection from injury. The mental benefits are also important: calmness, mental clarity, relaxed mind, sharpened focus, and increased body awareness. Here’s a simple 10-minute morning routine to get you started.
Tadasana, mountain pose – start with your feet together and your arms at your side. Press into the floor with all sides of your feet to feel balanced and let your arms relax at your side. Then lift your abdominals in and up. Hold this pose for 5-8 in and out breaths.
Urdhva Hastasana – Keeping your feet together, move your arms overhead while taking an inbreath. Press your palms together. With an outbreath, in order to keep your shoulders relaxed, release them away from your ears and activate your triceps. Keep your abdominals engaged and your legs firm. Hold in this posture for 5-8 in and out breaths.
Warrior I – to wake up your strength and confidence, step your left foot back until it is one leg’s length from your right foot. Turn your left foot in slightly at a 75-degree angle and press the outer edge of your left foot into the mat as you lunge your right knee forward. Keep your right knee above your right ankle. Keep your arms overhead without having your palms together. Align your arms in parallel on either side of your body. Breathe here for 5-8 breaths.
Warrior II – From Warrior I pose, staying to the right, open your arms, hips and waist to the side as you gaze forward over your right hand. Your back toes can relax and open up a bit from the 75-degree angle but do keep your toes a little forward of the heel so there is a slight angle. Keep your front knee engaged in the lunge so it doesn’t roll in. Draw your abs in and keep your torso even between your knees. Think about lengthening and strengthening. Breathe in this posture for 5-8 deep breaths.
Downward Dog – Release your Warrior II pose and align your feet pointing forward, hip width apart. Taking a deep breath, bend forward from the waist and reach forward to place both hands on the ground in front of you, shoulders distance apart. Step your feet back until they comfortably engage with the ground. Your heels maybe slightly off the mat. The idea is to elongate through the torso and really stretch your spine, hips and calves. If you need to bend your knees slightly, that is perfectly okay! Breathe deeply into this pose for 8-10 breaths. If at any time the stretch becomes too uncomfortable, adjust slightly. Keeping your abdominals engaged will make the pose easier and more effective.
Baby Cobra Pose – Release Downward dog by taking a deep breath in and stepping forward with your feet, slowly rolling up one vertebra at a time using your abdominals for strength and safety through the movement. Once you are in a full standing position, lower yourself to the mat until you are on your belly with your arms flat in front of you. Your legs will be straight behind you in an engaged posture, hip width apart. Reaching slightly forward with your arms, lay them on the mat so that your elbows, forearms, and hands are flat and face down touching the mat. Pull your shoulder blades together and raise your chest up until you feel the lift. It should feel like you are pointing your chest toward the ceiling and you will feel a gentle stretch in your mid-low back. Look up and face the day. Breathe here for 5-8 deep breaths. You may choose to relax your entire body down to the mat and reengage more this posture more than once to really energize your body.
Child Pose – It’s time to relax everything and take some really deep breaths to end this yoga practice. From Baby Cobra, bring your chest down to the mat and let your entire body stretch out with your arms in front of you and your legs straight behind you. Using your arms, slowly move your hips back until your butt is resting on your heels, letting your forehead rest on the yoga mat. Place your arms straight out in front of you until you feel a comfortable stretch. Breathe deeply for as long as your body needs. Use this time to set an intention for your day and bring additional calmness to your mind and body. Press to stand and roll up when you are complete.