Wake up with the sun, and your body will thank you.
Regardless of the season (or the weather outside), there are real health benefits associated with this practice.
Exposure to bright morning light is thought to be one of the best ways to regulate your sleep cycle and ensure you're getting healthy zzz's every night, especially throughout the dark, cold days of winter. Morning larks may also have lower levels of anxiety and even healthier BMIs than night owls, studies have found.
To supercharge your healthy morning routine, add a little yoga. Yoga in the morning has particular perks; it's a great way to gently prepare for the day, Amanda Murdock, a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor in New York City, told weather.com.
“[Morning yoga] sets the mood for the day,” she said. “You're focused; you're energetic. It's a good way to wake up without caffeine as your energy jolt.”
Dana Flynn, the founder and director of Laughing Lotus in New York and San Francisco, told weather.com earlier this year that your yoga practice can change with the seasons, based on what you're looking for.
A more intense, warm yoga class on a cold winter's day or in the morning can provide a burst of energy. A restorative, cooling session when it's hot outside or at night can cool the body, providing balance, she said.
As far as particular poses to practice in the morning, Murdock recommended first starting with basic joint mobility — wrist and ankles rolls and the like — to gently wake up the body.
Then move to cat/cow poses on all fours to gently warm up the spine, before moving to a downward-facing dog (pedal your feet if that feels good) to stretch your hamstrings.
Next up: sun salutations, an asana or a pose series specifically designed for morning practice. “Sun salutations are a wonderful way to wake your body up,” Murdock said.
Yogis believe that twisting poses, such as revolved chair, which is pictured in the slideshow above, are good for morning “detoxes,” as well as digestion. (In general, exercise helps our body — including the digestive tract — function better, but there's no scientific evidence yoga twists help the body formally rid itself of toxins.)
As you move throughout your practice, try plenty of hip and chest openers, especially if you're going to be sitting at a desk all day, Murdock suggested. Humble warrior, pigeon, warrior II are all good starting points. Happy baby — which is also a hip opener — is a good way to wind down your practice, she suggested.
“Put any pose in there that you like that's a chest opener or a hip opener, and that would be a valid thing to do in your morning practice,” she said.
For more morning poses — and a dose of fitness inspiration — click through the slideshow above.
Below, more stunning images to inspire your fitness pursuits.
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