Raise your hand if you roll out of bed and feel like a million bucks.
I didn’t think so. That creaky, cloudy feeling so many of us have when we first wake up explains a lot about why the coffee industry is such an economic force—give us our caffeine, stat!
So you crawl out from under the covers, hit the bathroom, and then head to the kitchen to start the coffee or tea brewing, yes?
Here’s a mini yoga sequence you can do while you wait for your elixir of choice. It moves your spine in nearly all the directions it can possibly move, wringing tension out of the back, shoulders and neck while also deepening your breathing and waking you up in the most lovely of ways.
Spend one or two or three breaths in each pose, and repeat the sequence up to three times. See if you don’t start feeling ready to take a bite out of life even before you’ve had your first sip of coffee.
Stand tall with feet a few inches apart, top of the head elongated toward the ceiling, collar bones melting away from each other and arms dangling easily toward the floor.
Interlace your fingers, turn your palms to face out, and lift your arms above your head. Resist the urge to lift your shoulders up toward your ears—you want to grow tall by lifting your ribcage up away from your pelvis. Give your shoulders the moment off and let them ease downward.
Take hold of your right wrist with your left and bend at the waist to the left without sinking your side in towards your hip. Reach down through the soles of your feet and out through your hands to get as long as possible through the right side of the body. Think of making a beautiful rainbow with your body. Come back up to standing. Now reverse the clasp of the hands and repeat the side bend to the other side. Think long. Spin your chin up to look at your bicep.
Come back to standing up straight, then clasp hands behind your back. Press the hands down toward the floor and lift the spine so strongly that you begin to arch backward, from about the height of your bra strap (your hips will stay over your feet). Let your head drop backward and look up at the ceiling (or at the wall behind you, depending on how far you can go.) Reach down through the feet to stay grounded and to help you lift the spine up and back.
Keeping your hands clasped behind you, return to standing up straight. Then soften your knees and fold forward, as if you could place your belly on your thighs. Straighten your legs as far as feels comfortable for your hamstrings and allow your hands to move forward and down toward the floor, keeping your arms extended. The head is heavy, dangling toward the floor.
Release your hands and let them hang like noodles toward the floor. Then roll up to standing, very slowly, stacking one vertebra on top of the other. The head comes up last.
And here’s a video to show you the whole thing in motion.
You could do it like I’ve shown here, taking a breath to move into each pose and continuing the flow. I like to move a little more thoughtfully, and spend a couple breaths in each position. It’s really up to you. Do what feels good.