In these cold fall and winter months, the natural inclination is to burrow, snuggle up inside, get warm, and stay cozy. That’s great and all…if you don’t need to get anything done.
When you need a jump-start in the morning—or at any point in the day when you start to feel sluggish—try these yoga poses. As you breathe and move through the poses, they’ll energize your body and your mind, getting—and keeping—you up off the couch. Do each once anytime you want to wake up.
Tree Pose with Back Arch: Standing tall with soft knees, bend your left knee and open from your hip out to the left. Keeping your hip open, place your left foot inside your right thigh or shin (you can also place the ball of your left foot on the ground with your heel on the inside of your right calf). Clasp your hands behind your sacrum, and use each inhale to lift your chest a bit higher and each exhale to lengthen through your tailbone and lean back a little bit. Stay here for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
|Warrior III: From a standing forward bend, walk your hands under your shoulders, placing them on the floor (or on blocks if the floor is too far away). Transfer your weight to your right foot, putting a slight bend in your right knee, and float your left leg high behind you. Reach through your left heel and internally rotate your left thigh so your toes point toward the ground. If you feel steady, lift your hands off the ground and frame your torso with your arms reaching back toward your heel. Stay here for 5 deep breaths and then switch sides.|
|Half Moon with Arch: From warrior III, plant your right fingertips down under your right shoulder, open your left hip on top of your right, and open your torso toward your left. Extend your left arm straight up and look up toward your left fingers. Then bend your left knee, and take a hold of your left foot with your left hand, lightly pressing your foot into your hand to open your back. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.|
|Dancer: From standing, shift your weight onto your right leg. Bend your left knee and grab the inside of your left calf with your left hand. Gently press your foot into your hand to open your back. Reach your right arm straight up. Stay here for 5 long, deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.|
|Table Top: Sit with your legs long in front of you, feet hip-distance apart. Plant your hands on either side of your hips and start to press into your feet, bending your knees and lifting your chest high. If it feels fine on your neck, you can allow the head to fall back. Stay here for 5 deep breaths and then gently release your sitz bones down to the ground.|
|Wheel: Lie on your back, knees bent and feet on the ground hip-distance apart. Bend your elbows and place your hands on either side of your head shoulder-distance part, fingers pointing toward your shoulders. Pressing into your feet and hands equally, lift your hips and lengthen your arms. Keep pressing into your feet (especially through the big toe mound) and reaching your chest away from your feet as you stay here for 5 deep breaths. Be sure to tuck your chin to your chest before you slowly come down.|
|Up Dog: Lie facedown on the ground with the tops of your feet on the ground. Place your hands on either side of your chest, bending your elbows and allowing them to brush the sides of your rib cage. Pressing into your palms, pull your chest forward through your shoulders and press into your feet to lift your thighs and knees off the ground so only your hands and the tops of your feet are on the ground. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.|
|Side Crow: Start in a squat on the balls of your feet with your knees together and fingertips on the ground for balance. Twist over to the left, hooking your left elbow outside of your right thigh. Breathe in your twist for a few deep breaths to get comfortable, and then place your hands shoulder-distance apart on the ground, press into your fingertips, and start bending your elbows (both energetically reaching toward your midline and not winging out) to tip forward, looking a bit forward, not down. Eventually your feet will tip off the ground (don’t force it, it will come!). Breathe here for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.|
|Handstand with Split Legs: Play around with this pose at a wall until you feel comfortable away from the wall. From a forward fold, press your palms firmly into the ground, about a foot and a half in front of your feet, shoulder-distance apart. Lift your left leg toward the ceiling, coming high onto the ball of your right foot. Using your left leg to lift you, transfer your weight onto your hands or take little hops off your right foot until you are upside down or against the wall, keeping your legs split. Engage your shoulder blades down and together on your back, and press into your fingertips for extra energy. (Tip: Split-legged handstand is usually a bit easier than one with both legs straight. Think of your legs as the pole that the person on a tightrope holds: They help balance you!) Stay here for 5 deep breaths—or work your way up to that—and then repeat on the other side.|
Photos: Vera Boykewich