Morning routines are important. Filling those first few moments with an activity that calms your mind and energizes you can make all the difference between a stressful day and a productive one. As a yoga instructor, I like to kick start my day with a moving meditation that pairs physical moves with positive mantras to de-stress and center myself.
Meditation is a proven way to combat stress, while also promoting overall well-being and boosting mood. For those that have difficulty sitting still with our thoughts, a moving meditation can be helpful, plus you’ll reap some physical benefits as well. Yoga can improve flexibility, as well as muscle strength and blood circulation. And it can help loosen up stiff muscles after a night of sleeping.
You need just five spare minutes to add this simple routine to your morning. Each of the five moves is paired with a mantra that will put you in the right headspace to tackle whatever your day has in store.
Goddess pose: "I am in charge. I trust myself"
The goddess pose is meant to energize and stabilize, making it the perfect move to start with. This move improves hip flexibility and lower-body strength. You should feel a stretch in your hips and legs, including your quadriceps, glutes and calves. Although it mostly works your lower body, the goddess pose can also be a core workout if you squeeze your abs throughout. Begin in a standing position with your legs wider than shoulder-width and your toes turned outward. Stretch your arms straight up towards the ceiling. Then, bend your knees so that they are directly over your toes and your thighs are parallel to the floor. At the same time, pull your arms down into cactus pose, keeping your shoulders back and your chest open. Hold for about 30 seconds.
Mantra: While performing this move, say the words “I am in charge. I trust myself.” The goddess pose is all about power and strength, so it's a great opportunity to build mental power and strength, too.
Cobra: "I let go of what holds me back"
The cobra eliminates stiffness in the low back, increases flexibility, improves mood and stretches the shoulders, chest and abs. This move is meant to stretch your body while focusing on your breath -- the perfect way to increase mindfulness. Lie on your stomach in a comfortable position. With your feet together, press your hands into the mat under your shoulders. Inhale, lifting your chest while pushing the ground away from you. You should feel a deep stretch in your back and lower body. Exhale, returning to the floor.
Mantra: When your chest is lifted off the ground, say “I let go of what holds me back” before returning to the starting position. This move is all about releasing tension in the muscles, which makes it a great time to bring awareness to the mental and emotional tension you're holding on to and releasing those negative thoughts.
Pigeon pose: "I have a purpose and I am enough"
The pigeon pose opens your hips while relieving low-back pain. Like many other yoga poses, the pigeon pose also helps improve overall flexibility. From plank position, bend your right knee and pull it towards your chest, resting it by the right hand. Slide your shin forward so that your right toe is pointing towards the left, perpendicular to your body. Extend your left leg straight out behind you. Focus on your breathing, and hold for 30 seconds before switching legs.
Mantra: Repeat the words “I have a purpose and I am enough.” If confidence is something you struggle with, this yoga and mantra combo can help shift your mindset and allow you to create a more positive headspace.
Butterfly pose: "I am limitless"
The butterfly pose targets the inner thighs and groin for an intense lower-body stretch. Sit on your butt and maintain good posture by pulling your abs in and shoulders back. Bend your knees out to the side and place the bottoms of your feet against each other. Hold your feet together with your hands, fluttering your legs up and down. For a deeper stretch, bend at the waist moving your chest towards the ground. Focus on your breath.
Mantra: While in this pose, say the words “I am limitless.” The butterfly pose is meant for relaxation, making it a great pose to really focus on your inner power. You should come out of this pose feeling strong and ready to take on whatever is thrown your way.
Child’s pose: "I surrender to what I cannot control"
Child’s pose is meant to calm your body while stretching out the low back and shoulders. You should also feel a stretch in your neck and hips while in this pose. Begin on all fours with your knees beneath your hips. Walk your hands out in front of you, stretching your arms and lengthening your spine. Sit back onto your heels and rest your stomach between your thighs so that your chest is almost touching the mat. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, focusing on your breath.
Mantra: Repeat “I surrender to what I cannot control.” The position of your body while in child’s pose is submissive, and allows you to let go of tension. This makes it the perfect pose to also focus on letting go of stress and anxiety. It’s easy to let racing thoughts and anxieties affect your mental and physical health, so starting the day with this mantra and move combo is a great way to release the mind and the body from the grips of stress.