Most of us lead busy lives, trying to balance work and private life. It’s difficult. On top of this, we also want to stay active, fit and healthy. So what can we do? Thankfully there is yoga.
A Hatha yoga practice is designed to keep our body in good health, and our mind balanced. In order to see the benefits of a morning yoga workout, it doesn’t really need more than 20 minutes.
Regularity is the key. So the excuse that you don’t have time for a yoga practice, doesn’t really count anymore.
Disappointed? I hope not, as your life will be much richer with a daily 20 minute morning yoga workout.
20 Minute Yoga Workout
Hold each yoga pose for about one minute or 7 deep, long breaths, unless another time is indicated.
- Equal Breathing Pranayama
- Balancing Table
- Hatha Sun Salutation
- Warrior II
Benefits of a Regular Morning Yoga Workout
A regular yoga practice has many benefits. Similar to meditation, the benefits increase when doing it more often or even daily. Which benefits?
1. Wakes up your body and mind
A morning yoga workout wakes up not only your mind but also your entire body. It gets your heart pumping, and increases the oxygen supply throughout your body, nourishing every cell, plus it kickstarts your digestion.
2. Improves focus and concentration during the day
Yoga has been shown to improve your focus. By turning our senses inwards and focusing on our breath, we directly train our concentration.
3. Improves well-being and lowers risk of mental health issues
Several studies have been conducted, researching the effect yoga has on mental health. While more extensive studies are still needed, a positive effect on people suffering from depression and anxiety has been shown.
This goes back to yoga activating our rest and digest mode, which decreases our stress levels, and helps us to relax.
4. Improves immune system
Regular physical activity is strengthening our immune system, making us more resilient to stress which is a major cause of falling ill.
5. Increases flexibility and mobility
Flexibility is probably the best-known benefit of yoga, as pictures of bendy yogis, young and old, are to be found all over the internet.
So yes, it is true that the yoga postures are designed to increase the flexibility of your muscles and tendons, ligaments and fascia, plus extends our mobility in the joints. This prevents stiffness and creates our general physical wellbeing.
6. Increases strength
Most of the yoga postures demand the engagement of the entire body. In flowy classes like Vinyasa or during Sun Salutations, our balance is challenged, requiring focus, and strength in all our muscles. Even in the ones that don’t seem part of the pose.
7. Increases energy
Do you know that feeling of being alive and energized after having completed a yoga class?
You can get the same feeling after your personal 20-minute morning yoga workout at home. For free.
8. Healthier lifestyle
This is a fantastic side effect of a regular yoga practice. You will probably realize after some time, that after you have completed your morning yoga workout, you don’t want to eat heavy, processed foods, but prefer fresh and healthy meals.
Most of us just really don’t want to ruin that well-being we experience after a yoga practice.
Plus, becoming more aware of our body and mind, we are also growing more mindful about the psychology behind our eating habits, about why we think we need that chocolate pudding every day.
What’s more, many smokers turn to yoga or meditation when trying to quit, as it calms your mind and helps you to overcome the immediate urge of reaching for a cigarette.
Full 20 Minute Morning Yoga Workout
Follow this sequence:
Start in Tadasana, reach your arms up overhead, lean slightly back, Forward Fold, Low Lunge (right leg back), Mountain Pose (Downward Facing Dog with feet close together), Chaturanga, Cobra, Mountain Pose, Low Lunge (right leg front), Forward Fold, come up into Tadasana.
Repeat on the other side to complete one round, continue for 2 more rounds.
1. Equal Breathing Pranayama
Starting your yoga routine with a Pranayama exercise allows your mind to fully arrive on your mat and to prepare for the yoga practice to come.
Equal Breathing is a calming breath, helping you to bring your senses inwards. It’s important to sit comfortably with a straight spine, so the breath can flow freely.
From tabletop position, take an inhale and arch your spine, look up towards the ceiling. On the exhale, suck your belly in and round your spine, gaze goes towards your navel. Nothing wakes up our stiff spine in the morning as Cat-Cow.
3. Balancing Table
This is a Core strengthening posture, so take it easy if you’ve just woken up. Extend one leg to the back and the opposite arm to the front.
On the next exhale bring elbow and knee to chest, rounding the spine. Our whole body has to work during this movement to keep the balance and to hold our weight with one arm.
This is a beautiful hip opener. You can move the knees up and down for a dynamic pose.
For a more static posture, push the knees down and stay there for a few breaths. Breath deeply into the groin. The butterfly is supporting the health of our reproductive organs.
5. Hatha Sun Salutation
Hatha Sun Salutation is not as well known in the West as Sun Salutation A, practiced in Ashtanga or Vinyasa Yoga. But this doesn’t mean it’s less beneficial or less fun.
Especially in the morning, this simple sequence wakes up our entire body. Perfect for people with little time.
6. Warrior II
Warrior II is an open hip pose. Keep the angle of your back foot less than 90 degrees if your hips are still tight. Relax your shoulders, but keep your arms active, reaching in both directions. Your gaze can be soft, looking over your fingers to the front.
From Warrior II reach your arm forward as much as you can and hinge forward from the hips. Then let your arms grab hold of your shin or ankle, the other arms reach up towards the sky.
Don’t compromise the openness of your chest for bringing your hand all the way down to your ankle or onto the mat.
The tree is a great balancing pose that can be modified according to your energy in the morning. Feel free to keep your toes on the mat, pointing your knee to the side.
If you weren’t able to identify your mood of the morning yet, you might find out in Tree Pose if you’re calm and focused, or if you are a bundle of nerves.
Locust is opening our chest and shoulders and is strengthening our lower back muscles. So it’s giving us everything we need to sit through a day in those uncomfortable office chairs.
Oh, wait! We also need a strong core to help us sit upright. So there you go, Boat Pose will do just that. Over time you might be able to straighten your legs more and more.
But most importantly, keep your spine straight to avoid back pain, but also to really make your abdominals work.
You can make Bridge a restorative pose, resting your lower back on a block, or an active pose keeping your hips lifted high, maybe even lifting up one leg at a time. Press your shoulders strongly into the mat, opening your chest up even more.
Careful with your neck here, keep your head still, as you otherwise run the risk of injuring your neck. The cervical vertebrae are the smallest of the spine and therefore prone to injuries.
12. Savasana - 3 minutes
You’ve made it! Even if you don’t feel the desired calmness now but anxious to finally get started with your to-do list, make these last 3 minutes yours.
Spread out on your mat, feel your weight sink into the mat, a little bit more with every exhale, and harness all the benefits of the yoga postures you’ve just done. Enjoy your day!
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