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Slow yoga for winter morning wake-ups

Fionnuala Gray

Cold Canberra mornings are upon us once more and getting out of a toasty bed can be the hardest part of the day.

Instead of hitting the snooze button again, a gentle yoga practice can provide the perfect wake-up.

Here are some poses to get you moving:

CHILDS POSE

Begin your practice in child’s pose. This restorative position is a great way to gently work out any kinks and activate your muscles.

In a kneeling position, bring the toes together and the knees wide. Folding from the hips, walk the hands forward to lower the torso. Bring your forehead to rest, stretching the hands forward, fingers spread.

Take three full breaths in and out through the nose.

Activate the pose by sinking the hips, and grounding through the hands.

Take two full breaths, in and out through the nose.

Gently release.

SIDE STRETCH

The second pose of the wake-up sequence is a gentle side stretch. In this pose, it is possible to open and find space through the sides of the torso.

From childs pose, realign the toes and knees to hip width. Moving with your breath, inhale to gently lift the torso and walk the hands in a big ark to left with the exhalation. Draw the toes towards the left too. Sink down into the pose, opening through the right side.

Take three full breaths.

Inhale to lift out of the pose, and release back to centre.

Moving with the breath, re-orientate the limbs to the right. Sink the torso down into the pose to open through the left side of the body.

Take three full breaths before returning to centre.

CAT/COW

Probably one of the best-known yoga moves, cat/cow pose is a lovely way to wake up the spine and the back. This pose is also a great way to connect movement and breath.

Rise to a table-top position, ensuring that hands are shoulder-width apart and the knees are parallel with the hips.

Inhale into cow by allowing the hips to tilt, thereby curving the spine down. The chest to opens forward, and the gaze rises.

Transition into cat as you exhale. Tuck the tailbone and draw the core on to curve the spine up. Find space between the shoulder blades and softly tuck the chin.

Release to neutral, then repeat.

EASY TWIST

The Sanskrit name of this pose translates loosely as “revolved joy pose”, so it’s a perfect addition to any morning sequence!

Find a seated position with your legs crossed. Roll the shoulders back to draw the shoulder-blades down along the spine.

Inhale and lift your arms up, above your head. Exhale and gently rotate to the right, allowing the heart to guide the movement. Drop the arms for support. Find more depth in the pose by softly turning the head.

Hold the pose for three full, deep breaths.

To return to neutral, inhale to lift and rotate on the exhalation.

Repeat to twist to the left.

BOUND ANGLE POSE

Bound angle pose can be found in both Yang (active) and Yin (restorative) yoga sequences. It’s a lovely way to open the hips and groin, areas that can hold a lot of tension.

Come to staff pose, seated with your legs extended.

Bend the knees up, then release them out to the sides. Bring the soles of the feet together, so the legs form a diamond shape.

Inhaling, draw the feet in towards the body until it is possible to inter-lace the fingers underneath. Exhaling, drop the knees once more.

Hold for five full breath cycles.

To exit the pose, release the feet and draw the knees back up so the legs can extend.

FORWARD FOLD

The final pose of this sequence releases the entire back side of the body, and its calming effects will have you ready to take on the day!

From staff pose, add a gentle bend to the knees.

Inhale and lift your arms to lengthen. With the exhalation, hinge forward from the hips drawing ribs to thighs.

Hold for three full breaths, in and out through the nose.

To find greater depth in the pose, inhale and rise halfway then sink again as you release your breath.

To return to staff pose, inhale and lift the torso.

Finish your flow feeling energised for the day ahead! 

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