In collaboration with Yoga Magazine.
New year is traditionally the time for making New Year’s resolutions. A fresh start to making new dreams come true. Keeping these resolutions requires a great deal of discipline. So don’t make it too difficult for yourself and stay in your bed for morning yoga.
It is still pitch black outside, you can hear the wind blowing, and then you realise that the irritating buzz is your alarm clock. You really intended to get up for your morning yoga, but, your soft bed is so nice and warm…. The solution for hibernation is simple: bed yoga.
Waking up is more difficult in winter than in summer. It is a physical process: we wake up because the sleep hormone melatonin in your body decreases. This hormone works on a day-and-night rhythm: as soon as it becomes light, the melatonin level automatically decreases. If the alarm clock goes off on a dark winter morning, this is, of course, not the case. That’s why getting up early in the summer is a lot easier than in the winter.
If you start the day with yoga, you will benefit from it all day long. So start the day by stretching quietly and by consciously breathing deeper.
Do this series of yoga exercises while you are still in sleep mode – the sleepy glow takes your mind along for the ride.
Put the soles of your feet together, let your knees drop out to the sides. Put your hands on your stomach and breathe gently towards your hands. Inhale, the stomach goes up; exhale, the stomach goes down. Do this for a few minutes and then move your left hand to your chest: inhale to the right hand and exhale to your left hand. You will notice that your energy will flow because you will breathe more consciously and deeper.
Lie on your back and pull your right leg towards you. Use your hands to press your leg against your stomach on the exhale. This promotes digestion and has a cleansing effect. Do this for at least seven deep breaths. Proceed to exercise 3 before doing the other side.
This twist flows through from the previous exercise. Stretch your left leg out straight, bend your right leg and bring it over to the left, over your stretched-out left leg. Hook your right foot behind your left knee. Stretch your arm to the right and look that way too. This activates your spine and the important energy pathways that orbit around it. Repeat exercises 2 and 3, but now with the left leg bent.
Slide your pillow out of the way and lie down on your stomach. Link your fingers together behind your back and stretch your arms backwards. Lift yoxur chest and imagine someone pulling you up by your wrists. Lift your legs at the same time. You balance on your stomach and because you’re lying on a soft surface, it is a mild massage for your abdominal organs. At the same time, this back bending gives you the feeling that you can take on the world again.
Lie down on your left side, legs together. String your fingers together behind your head. Your head rests on your bent left arm, and your right elbow points up. Now slowly turn your right hip forward, towards the mattress. Your legs are allowed to move, so your toes are leaning on the mattress. You turn your head to the right to the back and look up at your elbow. Your upper body rotates in the opposite direction to your lower body in this pose: this stimulates your consciousness, makes you alert, and also increases the suppleness of your back. Repeat the exercise on your right side.
Stretch your left leg away from you, and then your right leg. Do this several times; it’s good for the lower back. Then stretch your whole body, including your arms and legs. Inhale and stretch all the way out, and then let go of everything as you exhale. Repeat a few times.
Now comes the moment when you throw back the blanket. Stretch out your arms and legs so that your body is in the shape of a U first, rotate with your hands and feet to loosen your joints. Then keep your arms and legs stretched up (for at least one minute). This will allow you to collect energy in your stomach and it is a mild exercise for your abdominal muscles. Then bend your wrists and knees, flexing your hands and feet. Raise your right leg and right arm, so your palms and soles are pointing towards the ceiling. Then slowly bend your right arm and leg again, while simultaneously stretching your left arm and leg. Do this whole exercise three times on each side. Then shake your arms and legs all the way off.
Well, you’ll have to get out of bed at some point… Lie down on your right side and sit up calmly. Now, sit up straight on the edge of the bed. Move your back to the front (hollow back) on the inhale and to the back (rounded back) on the exhale. You can make this movement even more dynamic by combining it with the Kapalabhati, a breathing exercise that’s also referred to in some circles as the shining skull breath because it shakes you awake. It goes like this: breathe in through your nose. Your stomach expands by itself (hollow back), and then pull it in vigorously when you exhale (rounded back). The next inhalation will occur automatically, so you don’t have to go to any trouble to do so. After that spontaneous inhalation, you breathe out forcefully again, with your stomach retracting again. So the emphasis is on the exhalation. In fact, it is no more than a simple inhalation and a powerful exhalation. Do this exercise for one to five minutes.