Wake-Up Yoga: Morning Yoga in Bed
What is the first thing you usually do in the morning? Heading to the bathroom? Grabbing a cereal bowl? Or getting your coffee maker ready? All these sound like a practical morning routine, yet I would like to offer you another smart alternative: "Wake Up Yoga!"
I don't teach yoga for a living, so please don't address me as "Guru Om." You may call me a yoga freak, though. I have been in love with yoga for quite a few years, participated in various types of yoga courses and further deepened my knowledge of this invigorating exercise from a number of insightful books. This morning yoga routine is a quick workout plan I have put together, originally just for myself. I would rather attend a full hour of yoga class instead of doing this short yoga routine at home, of course, but sometimes my schedule just won't allow that. Ten to fifteen minutes of yoga in bed is better than no exercise at all.
This morning yoga routine aims to nurture your overall wellness, prepare your mind for a long day of work and stress, as well as make your whole body feel great and energized. If you are looking for a way to lose weight, this yoga program could help but might not be enough. Honestly, I think you would need a more strenuous workout than this in order to shed some extra pounds. So you may include this routine in your weight loss strategy but don't rely solely on it.
All the hatha yoga poses in this routine are pretty simple, thus beginners should be able to perform them safely with no supervision from a professional. However, if you have previous bone injuries, it's important for you to take a cautious step; discuss this yoga program with your doctor first.
Props You Will Need
- A belt or long scarf
- A small bolster or rolled-up towel
My Morning Yoga Routine - Overview
1 - 2 minutes
3 - 4 minutes
Cat and Cow
1 - 2 minutes
1 - 2 minutes
Yoga in Bed - Warm Up
Start with putting all the pillows, bolsters and comforters aside. If you feel more comfortable with something beneath you head, use a flat pillow or a folded thin blanket. Your head should not be much higher than your body in the prostrate position.
Hug your knees to your chest. Slowly move them from side to side, then move them in circle a few times in both directions. Try to synchronize your breathing with your movement. For example, inhale as you rotate your knees to the left, then exhale as you rotate them back to the right. Let each inhalation and exhalation be long, smooth and complete. This should be more like a meditative movement rather than just a regular warm-up. Besides preparing your body for the workout, it can also calm your mind and improve your focus.
Yoga In Bed - Spinal Twist
Bring your knees back to center. Stretch your arms out in the T position. Inhale deeply, and as you slowly exhale, shift your knees to the right until the side of your right leg reaches the mattress. Continue to breathe slowly. Keep your knees in line with the hips. Try not to let your left shoulder lift up from the mattress. Turn your head to the left and stay in this pose for about a minute. Once again, bring your knees back to center and repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Benefits: This yoga pose has proven to relieve back pain, sciatica and discomfort in the hips. Plus, it can invigorate the spine, improve digestive system and promote kidney function.
Yoga In Bed - Core Workout
Place both your feet on the mattress. Lift up both legs, keeping your knees bent and in line with the hips. Your shins should make a 90-degree angle with your thighs. Place a small bolster between your thighs. In case you don't have one, just roll up a small blanket or towel. (If you want to practice yoga at home, you need to be creative and know how to improvise!) Place your palms beneath the back of your head and interlace your fingers. Inhale slowly and deeply. As you exhale, lift your head up from the mattress. Don't try to bring your chin to your chest. Instead, just try to lift your head straight up. This way you won't strain your neck. At the same time, squeeze the bolster tightly with your thighs. Stay in this pose for 3 - 5 seconds, inhale and release. Repeat this 10 times or more if you are inspired to do so.
Benefits: This pose not only strengthens the thighs and abdominal muscles, but can also relieve stress and improve the digestive system. Yoga practitioners believe the abdominal area is where our manipura chakra is located. Too much energy trapped in this chakra may lead to a decreased sense of well-being. A daily core workout can unlock this chakra, and help us regain our ability to experience simple joy and find satisfaction in everyday life.
Yoga In Bed - Leg Stretch
- Stretch out your legs and keep them about hip-width apart. Lift up your right leg, then grab your calf with both hands. If you can't reach the calf, you may hold your thigh instead. Also, you can either keep the leg straight or bend it slightly. Spread your toes apart a few times. Point your toes at the ceiling, then point them at the wall behind your head. Repeat these alternate movements 6 - 8 times. Then circle your ankle slowly in both directions a few times or until you're satisfied. As your ankle and foot are doing all these moves, try to keep your upper body completely relaxed.
- Grab a scarf or belt, and place the middle part of it on your sole, right next to the ball of your foot. Hold the ends of the scarf with both hands, then try to pull your leg back as close to your head as possible and stay in this pose for a few long breaths. Do this very slowly. Don't force yourself to go beyond your physical limitation.
- Now hold the ends of the scarf with only your right hand while stretching out your left arm sideways. Slowly move your leg as far to the right as you can without lifting your left hip from the mattress. Stay in this position for 4 - 6 long breaths. Use your left arm to help anchor the left side of your body down.
- Bring your right leg back to the neutral position. Transfer the ends of the scarf to your left hands, then stretch out your right arm sideways. Slowly tip your right leg to the left until it reaches the mattress. Allow your right hip to lift up but keep your right shoulder down. Turn your head to the right. Stay in this twist for 4 - 6 long breaths. Bring the leg back to the neutral position, release and repeat the whole process with your left leg.
Benefits: This whole series of leg stretching is great for your foot joints, hamstrings, hips and all the leg muscles. It is something you should do in the morning because it promotes the sense of agility and flexibility. To get your body going, first you need to wake up your legs!
Yoga In Bed - Eagle Arms
Push yourself up to a seated position. You can either sit cross-legged, or sit on your shins with your knees together and your bottom on your heels. Choose whichever is more comfortable for you. Stretch out both arms in front of you. Cross your right arm over your left and bend your elbows. Make a 90-degree angle, with your right elbow resting in the crook of your left arm. Intertwine your hands with each other until your palms touch. If that is not doable for you, don't worry. Just do the best you can. Your upper arms should be about the same height as your shoulders. Try to sit up very straight; don't slouch or lean to one side. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds to a minute. Release and redo the pose with your left arm on top of your right.
Benefits: This yoga pose might look a bit funky, but it allows you to stretch your shoulders, arms and upper back in such a soothing way. Plus, it helps stimulate more blood circulation to the upper body. If your job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, your back muscles can become very tight. With this yoga pose, you can release all that tension and have a fresh morning start.
Yoga In Bed - Cat and Cow
Cat and Cow
Now get on all fours. It's time for "cat and cow." Your hands should be right under the shoulders, and your knees right under the hips. Keep your spine in the neutral position and take a few deep breaths. To move into the cat pose, round your back as you make a long, slow exhalation. As your back is slowly rounding, drop your tailbone and tuck your chin toward your chest. Stay in this posture for about 3 - 5 seconds.
Start to inhale again and gradually arch your back in order to switch to the cow pose. Raise your tailbone and lift your chin slightly. Stay in the pose for another 3 - 5 seconds, then move back to the cat pose. Complete about 10 rounds of "cat and cow" before returning to the neutral position.
Benefits: "Cat and Cow" is a gentle exercise for your spine and neck. On the psychological level, it ushers your mind into a state of calmness and gets you ready for any stressful issues that might be lingering at your workplace.
Yoga In Bed - Child's Pose
Sit back on your heels. Your knees can be either together or hip-width apart. Bend forward and rest your forehead on the mattress. If your bottom can't reach your heels, place a folded blanket or pillow between your bottom and heels for support. Let your arms rest on the mattress, alongside your torso. Observe your breathing and the movement of your stomach as you inhale and exhale. Stay in this pose for about 1 - 2 minute. Find that inner peace but don't get too comfortable, or else you might fall back asleep!
Benefits: The child's pose can give the hips, back and thighs a pretty good stretch. More importantly, it is a symbolic posture of openness and humility. Being in the fetus position once again, you should try to feel the connection to infinite possibilities you once experienced as a carefree child. Whatever life might bring you for the day, receive it courageously and humbly.
That's the end of my morning yoga routine. I hope you will give it a try to share it with your loved ones. Namaste.