The beginning of any journey is a powerful time to set an intention for what we hope to accomplish ahead. It is the reason we make resolutions in the New Year and why we take an important, and often pivotal, pause at the beginning of yoga class. The start of something is where we create the tone for what we hope to come—and considering this, what could be more important time than the morning of a new day?
While you may have visions of yourself scribbling peacefully in your gratitude journals and sipping tea in soft, white sheets, the reality is that most mornings you’re more likely to be silently cursing your alarm clock and groggily fiddling with the coffee machine before you can even think about sitting down to meditate.
But what if you set an intention for your day simply by moving your body? And what if you didn’t even need to get out of bed to do that?
By taking the time to move gently first thing, you are sending a subconscious message to the universe that self-care is priority for that day. You don’t need a Tibetan Bells soundtrack or a stick of Palo Santo. Simply flowing in your bed for a few minutes right after waking up can have a profound impact on the rest of your day, and this 5-pose sequence will help you do just that.
Supine Side Stretch
Did you know that we are taller upon waking than when we go to sleep? According to research, this is because we are fighting against gravity as we move throughout the day, which flattens the discs (the cushioning) between each vertebra. Side bending is a lovely way to feel into that extra space your rest has afforded.
How-to: Starting above or under your covers, inhale your arms overhead and grab your elbows. Take your legs wider than your hips and cross your left ankle over your right ankle, keeping your legs straight. On an exhalation, lean toward the right, opening the left side body. Stay here for 10-15 long breaths. To come out, separate your legs back into a wide-V shape, switch the clasp of your elbows, and repeat on the other side.
See also 17 Poses to Jump-Start Your Day
Supine Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This posture helps to gently release your hips, beginning the process of getting you into your legs so that you can stand confidently in your self and in your day. What’s more, resting your hands on your low belly is also a great way to start to bring breath and awareness into your power center, the 3rd chakra, which is related to your sense of self.
How-to: From a supine Tadasana shape, bend your right knee and pull your right foot up toward the inside of your left thigh. Allow your right thigh to lengthen open, sinking into your bed for a mild inner thigh release. Rest your two hands on your low belly and take deep full breaths into your abdomen, beginning to stoke the fire of your core. Stay here for 10-15 breaths, then switch sides.
In this first seated pose, it is helpful to come to the edge of your bed. This hip-opener can be done upright or folded for a deeper outer hip stretch. This is especially helpful for people who commute to work in cars or seated on trains, and for those who will end up sitting for long periods of time at work.
How-to: Begin at the edge of your bed, with both feet hip-width distance apart. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and sit upright. Take a few breaths here, stretching slowly. If you would like, bring your hands to Prayer Pose at your chest and fold forward at your hip crease to deepen the release of your right hip. Continue to reach your chest bone away from your hips to lengthen your spine. Stay here for 15 breaths, then come upright and switch sides.
With this posture, you’ll combine breath with movement to start waking up not just your body, but also your mind.
How-to: Start at the edge of your bed with your feet hip-width distance apart. Hold the front of your shins, and on an inhalation, arch your spine, drawing your tailbone back and lifting your chest and gaze up. On an exhalation, round your spine, pulling your sit bones underneath you, doming your upper back, and dropping your chin to your chest. Repeat 10 rounds.
See also A Yoga Sequence for Deep Hip Opening
Seated Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Take this last precious moment to get quiet and really check in with what you are hoping to bring in to this gift of a day. Releasing your head to the floor symbolizes letting the mind get quiet, while drawing your heart forward symbolizes leading with your heart.
How-to: Sit on the edge of your bed and on an inhalation, reach your arms overhead. On an exhalation, fold forward at your hips. You may want to turn your feet out slightly, as it helps to fold a little deeper. Walk your arms forward on your fingertips and use your hands to draw your heart forward. Allow your head to hang, releasing the back of your neck, and most importantly, bowing humbly to your heart. Stay here for 15 deep breaths.