It seems like we’re always too busy to take care of ourselves but it sure does take a lot of time being sick or injured. An stitch in time saves nine as they say…
So if you’re feeling the pressure, try this simple morning routine to start your day on the right foot.
Start on all fours with the joints stacked – knees under hips, shoulders over wrists. Take a deep breath in and round the spine, looking toward the navel as you press the ground away with the hands, feeling a stretch between the shoulder blades.
On a long, smooth exhale, let you spine roll like a wave, lifting the tailbone and crown of the head towards the sky and pressing the chest forward between the shoulders.
Repeat 5 times to warm up you back and awaken your breath.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From your cat/cow, tuck your toes under and press the hips toward the sky. Ensure your core is engaged to stabilise your spine.
Activate the triceps to straighten the elbows and roll the shoulders outward, drawing them away from your ears. Arch the back slightly and flex the hips, tilting the sit bones to sky but keeping the knees slightly bent, especially while you warm up. Gently start to press the heels towards the ground and look between the knees or thighs, always keeping the knees and elbows a little soft. Ensure the fingers are spread and weight is distributed throughout palm and fingers.
Hold for 5-10 breaths and drop to elbows if wrist pain occurs.
Forward fold (Utanasana)
From Downward facing dog, start to walk the feet towards the hands and bring them to hip width at the top of your mat. Keep the knees bent and fold from the hips, letting the head hang down with the neck released. Hold for 10-20 breaths, gently stretching the back of the body.
High Plank to low (Kumbhakasana to Chaturanga Dandasana)
From your forward fold, plan your hands at the top of the mat and step your feet back. Strengthen and stabilise the pose by tucking your tailbone towards your heels, drawing bellybutton to spine and engaging the thigh. If your hips are sinking to the ground or rising to the ceiling then drop the knees. Hold here for 2-5 breaths, pressing the ground away with the shoulders and hands as you look down at the space between your hands.
On an exhale, start to lower about half way down, until your shoulders are in line with your elbows. This is Chaturanga Dandasana. Keep the belly and thighs strong, pressing out of your heels. From here you can move straight to Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdvha Mukha Svanasana)
Stack your wrists under shoulders and choose to take either upward facing dog or cobra, a safer alternative especially for mornings or before you’ve warmed up. Engage your glutes and use your quadriceps to straighten your legs, pressing the tops of the feet into the floor. The abdominals should be engaged, even as they receive a gentle stretch. Pull your shoulders back, drawing your shoulder blades together and away from the ear while opening the chest. Set your gaze straight ahead or let it rise toward the sky a little. Choose to keep your hips on the ground and elbows bent or straighten the elbows and let the hips rise off the floor.
Crescent Lunge with twist (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana)
From a lunge pose, bring hands to prayer in at your chest. Inhale and reach forward with the torso, elongating the spine while keeping the hips square. Twist the torso toward the side of the bent knee and drop the opposite elbow onto the knee, keeping the palms pressing together and GENTLY using the leverage to twist the spine and deepen the pose. Keep strong in the back leg, pressing out through the rear heel and drawing the muscles up the legs. Roll the top ribs onto the lower ribs and widen the collar bones. Hold for 5 breaths each side.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
From crescent lunge, allow the sole of the back foot to find the floor, turning the toes to face a few degrees forward. Keep the back leg straight, pressing into the outer edge of the foot and engaging the quads. Ensure the pelvis is not tilting forward or back and that the shoulders are stacked over the hips. Spread your hands out in opposite directions, keeping them at shoulder height. Turn to look over the front hand, checking that the front knee is stacked over the ankle and not falling inward. Hold here for 5-10 breaths each side, keeping the spine long and breath deep.
Thread the Needle (Sucirandhrasana)
One of my favourite poses cause you can do it in bed! A great one for stretching glutes.
Lie down on the floor (or your bed) with your knees bent and feet on the floor just in front on your hips. Cross the right ankle over the left knee, just above the joint and grab hold of the left knee, reaching the right hand through the hole created by the crossed leg. Draw the left knee towards you and let the right knee move away. You should feel a stretch through the right glutes. Hold for 10 breaths each side.