Feeling sluggish in the morning or fighting an afternoon slump? Put down the caffeine and revitalize naturally with yoga.
Yoga has a great reputation for helping with relaxation, flexibility and stress management, but certain poses work wonders to refresh and invigorate your body and stimulate your brain. Plus, you don’t need a lot of time or space to do them. As with any activity, if you have any injuries or are pregnant, consult your doctor before doing these poses.
Keep in mind that even though these are active poses, you still want to move through them slowly and mindfully. Breathe evenly throughout each pose, and only take the pose to a point that feels comfortable for you. It’s perfectly normal for one side of your body to be different than the other. Hold each pose for 15 to 30 seconds.
Wear comfortable clothes, find a quiet spot indoors or outside, roll out your yoga mat and prepare to be energized.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra is a chest-opening pose that helps relieve fatigue.
Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you and the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your hands flat on the floor directly beneath your shoulders, fingers spread wide and the elbows pressed close to your body.
Pressing the tops of your feet, thighs and pelvis into the floor, inhale and begin to straighten your arms. Roll your shoulders back and down as you lift your chest, gently arching your back while keeping your pelvis on the floor. Keep your shoulder blades back and down to open the collarbones as you hold the pose. Exhale as you lower back down to the floor.
Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)
Combining these two poses targets the spine, torso and neck and helps release tension.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists in line with your shoulders, knees directly below your hips, and the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Keep your head and neck in a neutral position.
Inhale as you gently arch your back, lifting your chin and chest while letting your stomach relax toward the mat. Gaze up to the ceiling as you hold the pose.
Exhale as you round your back up to the ceiling like a cat and drop your chin to gaze toward the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I)
This standing pose targets the chest, torso, arms and legs.
Begin by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart or slightly wider. Step forward with your right foot, toes pointed straight ahead. Turn your left foot out to a 45-degree angle, keeping your pelvis facing forward.
Press into your left heel and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle over your ankle. Reach straight up with your arms, lifting your rib cage but keeping the shoulder blades back and down. Depending on what feels best for you, press the palms of your hands together above your head or keep them apart. Reach up through your fingertips and gaze up at your thumbs as you hold the pose. (If looking up bothers your neck, keep your gaze straight ahead.) Straighten your bent leg and lower your arms to release. Repeat on the other side.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Back-bending poses are instant energizers to counteract fatigue.
Start in an upright kneeling position with the knees hip-distance apart. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. With the shoulders back and down, place your hands on the back of your hips with fingers pointed down.
Lean back and place your right hand on your right heel, keeping your chest lifted and open. Switch arms, reaching for your left heel with your left hand. Do this a few times on each side. If it is difficult to reach your heels, raise them by placing the bottoms of the toes on the floor.
When you feel ready, reach back to place both hands on your heels. If it feels O.K. on your neck, drop your head back; otherwise, keep your head neutral. Remember to keep breathing as you hold the pose. Bring your hands back to your hips and come out of the pose slowly and with control by bringing your chest up first, followed by your neck and, lastly, your head. If you’d like, finish by taking a few breaths in child’s pose.
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