Doing yoga as a regular practice has many benefits for our body. You can read about them in INTRODUCTION TO YOGA….
But, the perfect time for getting into your mat is early morning. In fact, the Sun Salutation Series (Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit) received this name because they are supposed to be performed during the sunrise, at about 6 am.
Practising it at the start of your day, before starting with the daily routine, has many additional benefits. You will have more focus and mental clarity throughout the day ahead and it will increase your concentration ability. Starting the day with a focused mind will reduce stress and bring calm and you will work more efficiently. It will also activate your body systems, increasing your digestion, circulation and respiration. As you will awake your inner fire, with more oxygenated air and blood, it will boost your energy levels and get you ready and motivated for the rest of the day.
Because of their specific benefits, there are some poses that are better to be done in the morning practice. You will recognise almost all of them as part of the Surya Namaskar sequences.
Easy-seat Twist is part of the warm-up exercises. It stretches the hips and knees. As you twist your spine, it stretches and strengthens it while it rehydrates the intervertebral disc. This twist also massages and stimulates the abdominal internal organs, promoting healthy digestion, as well as the lungs.
Start in a seated position on your butt, bring your left foot under the right leg and your right foot over the left. Then put the left hand on the right knee, and with an inhale, twist your spine to the right side, from the chest and shoulders. Finally, turn your head to look back. After holding for 5 breaths, turn to the other side.
Cat-Cow/ Marjaryasana-Bitilasana is also considered part of the warm-up postures for your back. It stretches the whole spine with the extension and bending, as well as the neck, the pelvis and hip-joints. It massages the digestive system and abdominal organs, increasing the digestion. Mentally, it increases the focus and coordination too, as you try to balance.
Come on a tabletop position, wrist, elbows and shoulders in one line, knees hip-width apart. On the inhale, lift the sit bones, chest and head towards the ceiling while arching the back towards the floor, shoulder roll back, feet flexed and toes curled. On the exhale, curve your spine towards the ceiling, gaze pointing at your navel and point the toes backwards.
Uttanasana/ Standing Forward Bend is the third asana of the Sun Salutation Sequence. It lengthens the spine, creating space between the vertebrae that, in a long-term, will help to reduce the friction with the intervertebral disk. By stimulating the circulation to the head, it calms and clears the mind, reducing stress. It also stretches all the Myofascia Superficial Back Line (an integrated fascia that runs from the sole of the toes, through all the back body until the top of the head), as well as the hamstrings and glutes.
To do this asana, come to a standing position with your feet, Tadasana. Feel the 4 corners of the feet pressing the mat. You can bring the feet together or keep a hip-width distance. On the inhale, raise the arms up to Hasta Uttanasana rolling the shoulders back, exhale and lean forward, tucking the navel in, and sit bones drawing back. You can keep the knees extended or slightly bent. Keep your arms extended and, if you can reach the floor, bring your hands next to the feet or hold the back of your ankles to go deeper on each exhale.
Adho Mukha Svanasana/ Downward Facing Dog is the basic and most famous yoga pose and part of the Surya Namaskar series. As Uttanasana, it stretches the entire Fascia Superficial Back Line, as well as the calves, hamstrings and glutes. It also elongates the spine while engaging the sides of the torso upwards. Moreover, it strengthens the quadriceps and upper body, chest and arms, as you are pressing on the mat with the 4 limbs, as well as the abdomen, as you contract it to maintain the pose. Because it is an inversion, it helps the circulatory system by cleaning the blood and bringing more oxygenated cells to the different organs, which will release pressure and stress, clearing your mind. It’s the perfect pose to come back to the Ujjayi Breath, with the additional benefits that it brings.
For doing Downward Facing Dog, come to a tabletop position with your fingers widely spread, index finger pointing forward. Feet flexed, toes curled. Exhale and lift your knees away from the mat. Extend your legs by engaging your quads and stretching the heels toward the mat, lift your sit bones to the ceiling, contracting your core. By pressing against the mat with the hands and fingers, engage your arms, roll the shoulders back away from the ears and draw them towards the mat, elongating both sides of the torso to the tailbone. Look at your navel.
Virabhadrasana I/ Warrior I is a standing asana and part of the Surya Namaskar B sequence. As it requires strength and focus, it’s an energizing pose. It stretches the back leg while strengthening the front leg. It opens and lubricates the knee and hip joints. As it stretches the spine while lifting the arms towards the sky, it creates space between each vertebra, which promotes healthy blood flow. As you engage your abdominal, chest and upper body, it also strengthens the inner organs from the digestive and respiratory system. By keeping the arms active firmly pointing up, it strengthens the biceps and shoulders
Starting in Tadasana, basic standing pose, exhale and step back 3 ½ to 4 with your left leg, left foot 45º angle. Bend the front leg (right), knee above the ankle, making a 90º angle, foot pointing forward. The hip points should we pointing forward. Inhale and lift your arms to the ceiling, shoulders rolling back, pressing in and down the scapulas and contracting the core. Point your arms and hands firmly up, lifting the ribcage and opening the chest. Gaze forward or look up to your thumbs, stretching and strengthening the neck. After holding for 5 breaths, step forward with the left leg and repeat it on the other side.
From Happy Fish Bali, we encourage you to start including some yoga poses and stretches to your mornings, to wake up the body and mind and start with positive energy to have an awesome day!
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