Do you wake up with stiff joints or tight muscles even though you practice yoga regularly?
Do you wake up tired after a night of sleep? Do you drink coffee or tea in the morning to get going? If you said yes, then know it is not part of your biology or destiny to wake up stiff, tired and unhappy. By making a few simple changes to your habits of breathing, moving, and even thinking, you can energize your every morning.
Thinking is Your Starting Point
Experiment with waking up without an alarm by creating a strong mental focus for yourself known as a sankalpah, or intention.
Here’s how it works: before going to sleep at night, visualize how you are going to begin the next morning. Imagine yourself waking up feeling ready and alert. More often than not, a few minutes of pre-sleep concentration does the trick and you will find yourself waking up either before or right with your alarm.
Creating this sankalpah is a powerful and effective way of practicing with purpose. Often a sankalpah addresses an area of your life you want to deepen in order to transform unconscious habits into conscious and beneficial actions. In order to wake up ready to go, you may choose a sankalpah that puts you right where you want to be each morning. For example:
- I wake up feeling supple and energized.
- I create a great day with my first conscious breath.
Plant your personal sankalpahs like a seed in your mind before going to sleep, upon waking up, and during your breath and movement sequences.
With a resolved mindset, we turn to the art of breathing.
Breathing Gets You Going
How you breathe makes a profound difference in how you feel. Changes in how you hold your breath, lengthen an inhale, shorten an exhale, burp or even hiccup will result in changes to your mood, energy, attitude and physical tension.
Breath can equalize, calm, or stimulate the body depending on how it is used. When inhalations and exhalations are the same length and effort, the body’s systems and emotions are equalized. Making your exhales longer than your inhales calms the body and reduces tension. And making your inhales more active stimulates the body and mind.
Now that we know this, we can use this last kind of breathing to get us up and going in the morning. Experiment with longer, bigger, fuller inhalations. Do three rounds right now and see what happens.
Do you feel more awake? Now imagine how those same breaths would set you up for success in the morning when you most need it. Breathing also has less calories than coffee, is free, and non-addictive! Here’s a great breathing technique for to help relax AND re-energize:
Now that you are more awake and alert, let’s move on to moving.
Movement Prepares You for the Day
Moving immediately requires your brain and muscle tissue to synchronize, your blood circulation to increase to provide energy, and electricity to be produced by active neurons as your nervous system communicates messages from your brain to your muscles. Movement, then, literally and figuratively picks you up.
Since our goal is to prepare and wake body and mind for a full and awesome day – I suggest you focus on the three biggest-bang-for-the-buck micro regions that Yoga Tune Up® specifically addresses: shoulders, hips and feet. Why these three regions?
Feet: 25% of your body’s bones are located in the feet and ankles, the home of all our balance and connection to the earth. What we do with our feet makes a difference in our day through each and every step.
Hips & Shoulders: Major nerves and circulation pathways run through from your head and torso through your shoulders and hips to your hands and feet. Opening the physical pathways and literally circulating the tissue and bones brings in more nourishment and wakes up your nervous system.
Isn’t this what waking up is supposed to do? I think so too. Starting your day by opening feet, hips and shoulder also means you’ll feel less fatigue all day and less pain as your body experiences less internal resistance. Sign me up!
About the Author
Alex Iglecia is an experienced body-mind coach, trainer, teacher and innovator in the San Francisco Bay Area, focusing on the intersection of conscious movement, transformative practices, yoga, and effective action in a purpose-filled life. His background includes engineering, graphic and presentation design, yoga and body-mind research, psychology of effective hand-to-hand combat, lots of study, strong project management and events planning, outreach, and much more. For more about me or to view my Yoga Tune Up® class schedule go here or visit my website at www.alexiglecia.com. You can also follow me on Twitter.