Yoga: The Ultimate Wellness Activity

Yoga has been around for several thousands of years; its roots are in India’s pre-Vedic era. It was in the 1850’s that its use was brought to the attention of the more educated people of the Western world.

There are many types of yoga, in fact, there are over 100; however, the term was generally associated with the Hatha form of yoga when it arrived on Western shores.

Among the many types, some of the most common are:

  • Hatha – the first introduced to the Western world and thus the one people are most familiar with, it is the perfect place for beginners to start with basic movements and breathing.
  • Vinyasa – involves a series of poses; it’s a smooth flow from one pose into another pose.
  • Power – bigger, better, harder, faster – Power Yoga is a high intensity practice that will help build muscle.
  • Ashtanga – like Vinyasa it is a series of poses, but it is combined alongside a special breathing technique. 
  • Bikram – or hot yoga, is carried out in a room with a high temperature (of around 105 degrees Fahrenheit) and runs through a series of 26 poses, it is challenging and not for the faint of heart. 
  • Iyengar – this yoga technique involves using objects to assist you in moving your body to the proper alignment, whether it is blocks, chairs, or straps. 

As mentioned, Hatha is ideal for a beginner. While those who suffer from chronic conditions, such as arthritis, for example can make use of Iyengar and Vinyasa. However, Bikram, Power, and Ashtanga are suited to those who are looking for a more vigorous exercise and are perhaps more experienced than the average yoga lover is. It is definitely something to work up to.

As stated by WebMD, it has incredible health benefits associated with it, for both your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Physically speaking, yoga may help boost immunity, while increasing energy and decreasing aches and pains, it will improve balance, and flexibility, as well as strengthening muscles and endurance. 

Many physical benefits of yoga are well documented, including lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular endurance, improved blood circulation, healthier digestion, lower respiratory rate for healthier lungs, and reducing risks for high blood pressure through improved blood circulation and oxygenation.

Yoga is frequently used in depression treatments, as mentally it can decrease depressive feelings and reduce anxiety, it also increases positive feelings, coping abilities, while enhancing enthusiasm, positive mood and alertness.  

Why Start A Morning Yoga Ritual

Some people read the news and drink coffee before starting off, which is an excellent way to set themselves up for a day of annoyance and angst. 

Skip the news, you’ll find out about it by lunch anyway, as yoga will calm your mind for the day ahead. It will reduce any pain that you may be suffering with a chronic condition, or general aches and pains. Your morning routine is a wonderful way to set the tone for the day, a positive tone.  

According to a study by the American Physiological Association, a morning routine reduces your stress levels, in addition your levels of depression and anxiety drop while your satisfaction increases. That study wasn’t based around yoga, just a routine… so knowing what we know about the benefits of yoga combined with the benefits of a morning ritual, you can see how positive a morning yoga ritual can be. 

By having this morning ritual, you are waking up and achieving something within your first waking hour, which is an ideal way to start the day. Beginning productively will carry throughout your day, increasing your productivity for the day. A bit like the old saying “start as you mean to go on.”

Morning yoga is also a wonderful way to enhance your spiritual wellbeing. Your morning begins with deep breathing, invigorating yoga postures, and meditation. You are in tune with your body and at peace. 

Perhaps what makes it such an attractive prospect for a morning ritual is that you can easily do it at home, including doing yoga poses right in your bed. 

This makes it an ideal way to start your day off right and build a foundation for wellness throughout the day.

  • Most exercise dominates the brain’s cortex, while yoga stimulates the sub cortex, which, is associated with well-being.
  • The body works more efficiently in Yoga because as there is less oxygen consumption, especially, when compared to other types of exercises.
  • Yoga gives you higher energy levels post workout than cardio because it involves controlled breathing, so you feel less fatigue and more energized through the rest of your day.  

Best Yoga Poses To Do In The Morning

Everyday Health’s Chris Iliades, MD has recommended a number of yoga postures that are ideal for your morning routine, but we have selected the most popular four: 

Bidalasana

Also known as, the cat-cow pose. If you imagine how a cat arches its back when it stretches, then you already have a decent idea on how this pose works. 

  1. It requires you to get on all fours and then gaze up at the ceiling, as you inhale drop your back toward the floor and look toward your belly button
  2. Arch your back and exhale

You would generally repeat this by breathing through 5 times, though you can do it more if it’s particularly beneficial to you. 

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Better known as the downward dog, this is probably the most well known yoga posture and is named for its similarity to a dog stretching. 

  1. Again, on all fours, your palms should rest on the floor at a slightly wider width than your shoulders, then tuck your toes, and lift your hips into the air
  2. Your chest starts to move back toward your thighs and your head is relaxed while your arms should remain straight
  3. Start to roll your shoulders away from your ears, ensure that your knees are bent, and then begin to walk, one heel at a time
  4. Keeping your hips high is more important than the soles of your feet touching the ground

Breathe through this posture at least 5 times.

Trikonasana

The triangle pose is completed from a standing position. 

  1. Your leg stance should be widened to leg length and your right foot turned out to the side- your heel should be aligned to the center arch of your left foot
  2. Then taking your arms parallel to the ground, reach as far as you can to the right side
  3. Pivot to move in the opposite direction

Ustrasana

You may be more familiar with this posture as the camel pose. This is a more advanced pose. 

  1. Begin in a kneeling position
  2. The upper torso bends backwards until your arms are extended backward and touching the soles of your feet

If you aren’t quite ready for this, there is a beginner’s version:

Start in a kneeling position lean your upper body back, you can keep your hands on your hips, and you should feel a stretch in your legs. 

Sticking With Your Commitment To The Ritual

 Yoga is for both the body and the mind, so it is important to remove all distractions before beginning your poses. Turn off the phone, have calming music prepared and ready to go at the push of a button, and ideally begin preparing the mind before getting out of bed. 

Allow yourself to visualize the poses before you physically do them, this will keep your mind on the prize. 

Yoga poses, or postures, will increase your strength; breathing will assist you in controlling your breath, and meditation will teach you to be mindful. 

Stress and anxiety are par for the course in our modern world, so by harnessing the mind-body practice of yoga you have the opportunity to disconnect and reduce your stress. 

Be mindful of the effects this ritual has throughout your day: 

Do you feel calmer?

Are you more focused?

Do feel less stress?

Do you feel more limber?

Do you have an extra spring in your step?

Do the usually annoying people in the office seem to bother you less?

Are you more mindful of what is going on inside your body?

Is your general sense of wellness improved?

Affirming such benefits and any, others that you experience will help you to make the morning yoga ritual a long lasting habit.

Final Thought

While you can practice yoga at any time of the day, getting into a morning yoga ritual is far more beneficial. It begins your day off with your body and mind relaxed and ready to face the day and really does shine the wellness light on your whole day.

Try it today!