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Yoga is a perfect start to the day. I like to remind students (and myself) is that you can do yoga almost any time and almost any place. You don’t have to go to a hot yoga studio to get the benefits of doing a few poses.

When you first get out of bed and you’re a bit stiff and groggy take a few minutes to do some gentle postures that will loosen your muscles, get oxygen into your blood, and refresh you before you even have that first cup of tea or coffee!

Here are three good wake up yoga poses:

cat cow
Cat and Cow

Cat: With your hands and knees on the floor, breathe in, arch the back tucking your stomach in and tucking your tailbone in, sucking your belly button in toward the spine and your neck loose, head hanging down in Cat pose.
Cow: Exhale, dropping the belly, arching the back so your tailbone lifts up, your head is up and your shoulders are open, chest forward in Cow pose. Repeat, alternating between Cat and Cow between 10 or 15 times. This really warms up the spine, releases the hamstring and gets you into a nice rhythm for your practice.



Sun Salutation

Stand up into Mountain Pose, both feet planted on the ground, shoulder-width apart, spine straight, standing tall. Inhale, stretching your arms up parallel overhead. As you exhale, fold down into a forward bend, folding at the waist and releasing the entire upper body so you hang loose stretching the back and hamstrings. Then inhale, arch your back up into a half lift, hinging your torso up so it’s at a right angle to your legs and you are looking forward. Then exhale, releasing back down into the forward bend and holding for one or two breaths. On an inhale, straighten your body back up, extending your arms out and up as you stand so the fingertips meet, touching overhead. Look upward, extending the neck and back to elongate the spine, then release your hands down into mountain pose so you are again standing grounded in mountain pose. Repeat this cycle 5 times.

seated spine twist
Spine Stretch

Sitting cross-legged, press your sit bones into the floor and lengthen your spine, reaching up with the crown of your head. (If this is uncomfortable, sit on a firm pillow or folded blankets, or extend one leg.) Keep both sit bones on the floor while you do this stretch. (a) Place your left hand on your right knee, inhale, and lengthen your spine. Then exhale and twist to the right. Breathe, return to center, switch sides, and repeat.

What’s your best wake-up tip (yoga or otherwise)? Share in the comments.