The aroma of coffee brewing in the morning is sometimes just enough to get you out of bed. However, a healthier, longer-lasting solution to help you feel more awake and energized for the day does exist: yoga.
Surya Namaskara, or sun salutations, is a traditional way to begin a yoga practice to build internal heat and warm up the body. Practicing Surya Namaskara during sunrise on an empty stomach is ideal. As you rise to greet the morning sun and start the day with gratitude, you connect with nature and are rejuvenated by the sun's energy. Hence the name sun salutations.
Sun salutations can be practiced at any time of the day, with sunset being the second ideal time after sunrise. You can move at a slow, medium or fast pace. In the morning, it's typical to be stiff so a slower pace is recommended.
The more consistently you practice, the better. A regular practice is required to build strength, flexibility and cardio health. The faster you move, the more you increase your heart rate and blood flow, burning fat. The slower you move, the deeper you stretch to increase flexibility and tone the body. No matter what pace you choose, you will feel more energized with an increased sense of peace, mental clarity and connectedness.
Move through the following sun salutation and then repeat the flow 3 to 4 times.
Tadasana: Mountain Pose1 of 9
Begin standing tall in Tadasana with your feet together, heels slightly apart and hands alongside your torso.
Urdhva Hastasana: Upward Hand Pose2 of 9
From Tadasana, inhale to Urdhva Hastasana. Lift your arms overhead, press your palms together, and draw the shoulders down.
Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend3 of 9
Exhale to Uttanasana, hallow the belly, fold forward from the hips, and lengthen through the front of the torso.
Ardha Uttanasana: Half-Standing Forward Bend4 of 9
Inhale and lengthen your spine to Ardha Uttanasana, lifting your gaze and extending the spine. Exhale to Plank Pose.
Plank Pose5 of 9
From Ardha Uttanasana, exhale and step your feet back bringing your torso parallel to the floor. With the arms perpendicular to the floor, align the shoulders over the wrists. Press your outer arms inward and spread your shoulder blades wide. Spread the chest open, draw the tailbone down, lift the thighs, and reach back through the legs. Reach the head forward and gaze softly toward the floor. Continue exhaling to Chaturanga Dandasana.
Chaturanga Dandasana: Four-Limbed Staff Pose6 of 9
From Plank Pose, exhale and slowly lower your torso and legs a few inches above the floor. Keep the elbows aligned over the wrists. There is a tendency for the low back to sway toward the floor and the tailbone to lift up toward the sky. Keep the tailbone firmly in place and the legs activated. Keep the chest slightly lifted and the shoulder blades wide. Elbows remain close to torso, not splayed out to the sides. Make sure your head is straight gazing slightly forward on the floor. Inhale to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Upward-Facing Dog7 of 9
From Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale and press into the hands, lift the torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor. Firm your thighs and turn them slightly in. Engage your arms and turn them slightly out. Tip the head back, gazing upward. Breathe steadily, lifting the chest and dropping the shoulders down and back. Relax the glutes. Exhale to Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward-Facing Dog8 of 9
From Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, spread your fingers and turn your toes under. Exhale; press the floor away, lift from your belly, and raise your knees away from the floor bringing your hips toward the sky. Start by keeping the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted. If possible, slowly begin to straighten knees and draw the heels down toward the floor. Draw the tailbone down and spread the shoulders wide. Release the head down, gazing between the thighs. Stay in this pose for five breath cycles.
Gaze between the hands, step to Ardha Uttanasana and inhale, exhale to Uttanasana, inhale back up to Urdvha Hastasana and exhale to Tadasana. Repeat.