Wring out achy winter stiffness with this easy yoga routine to give your body a feel-good tune-up.
Warmer weather and longer days are the perfect motivation to jump-start your exercise regime. Exercise is one of the key ways to boost your metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity up to 48 hours post-workout. (1) To ease into spring, use these gentle poses to get your blood pumping and wake up any achy muscles.
The gentle twists are perfect for firing up your digestive system and melting away stress, while other poses help build strength and release muscle tension. We recommend doing this routine first thing in the morning. As you move from one pose to another, or winter to spring, your body will begin to feel naturally rejuvenated and ready for those warmer days ahead.
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Seated Sun Breaths | 5 breaths
Sun breaths integrate your breath and movement. Connect your full inhalation with the movement of your arms and full exhalation as you bring your hands back to heart center.
- Come to a comfortable seated position with your arms by your side, palms facing up.
- Inhale to raise up above your head, bringing the palms together.
- Exhale to bend the elbows, bringing your hands to heart center.
- Repeat for five breaths.
Seated Twist | 5 breaths per side
Twists detoxify the body from the inside out. These seated stretches can improve digestion and stretch the back muscles, shoulders, and neck muscles.
- Start in a comfortable seated position.
- Inhale to reach the arms above your shoulders, then exhale to twist your torso to the right, placing your right hand on the ground behind you and your left hand on the outside of the right knee.
- Stay for five breaths. On each inhale, create more length in the torso. On each exhale, twist a bit further from the abdominals.
- Release on an inhale and repeat on the other side.
Note: Move gently in and out of the twists. It’s important to unwind on an inhale for a slower, more controlled release.
Plank Pose | 10 breaths
This pose builds strength in the whole body!
- Come to all fours on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide.
- Step one leg back at a time to come into plank. Squeeze your legs together, firm up the abdominals, and push the ground away with your arms.
- Hold for 10 breaths.
Note: Don’t let your hips sink to the ground! That can cause a lot of pressure in the lower back. Press into the ground firmly with your hands and lift your hips so they are almost level with your shoulders.
Cobra Pose | 3 reps
A majority of us sit throughout the day, which can tighten the whole front body. This pose can help stretch your chest, shoulders, and neck to bring muscular balance back into the body.
- Lie on your belly with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, thumbs in line with your chest. Your legs should be hip-width distance apart, with the tops of the feet on the mat.
- Inhale to press down into the hands and lift the chest off the ground, keeping the elbows bent and hugged in towards the body. Squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top.
- Exhale to lower back down to the mat.
- Repeat for three reps.
Note: It’s important to focus on length in this pose to avoid crunching the lower back.
Kneeling Side Bend Lunge | 5 breaths per side
Winter time brings cozy sweaters, but can also lead to a tight hips from all the curled-up snuggling positions. This stretch relieves tightness in the front of the body and should be done on a daily basis.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart and a bend in both knees. Step the right foot back and set the back knee down.
- Rest both hands on the front thigh and press your hips forward.
- Inhale to reach the right arm above the shoulder, and exhale to side bend over to the left. Your left hand can stay on the thigh or come to a block or the ground.
- Stay for five breaths, then slowly come out of the pose and repeat on the other side.
Note: You can always place a blanket or towel under your back knee for cushion.
Twisting Kneeling Lunge | 5 breaths
The digestive system slows down in the winter time. Twisting will jump-start your digestion and wring out any toxin build up.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend both knees. Step your right foot back about a leg’s length.
- Set the back knee down. Bring your hands to your left thigh and press your hips forward.
- Inhale to lengthen the spine, then exhale to bring the right elbow to the outside of the left leg for a twist.
- If you like, put your hands in prayer position. Take five deep breaths.
- Inhale to come out of the twist and repeat each step on the other side.
Note: Concentrate on lengthening the spine to create space in the vertebrae, rather than crunching and twisting.
Twisting Triangle | 5 breaths per side
This posture is a great way to stretch both legs. Adding a twist will also get deep into the abdominals to kick start your spring clean.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart and hold a block in your left hand. Step the left leg back about three feet.
- With both feet facing forward, draw your right hip back and left hip forward until both hips are square to the front.
- Keeping the left hand on the block, place the block on the inside of the right foot.
- Inhale to reach the right arm up for a twist. Exhale to draw the abdominals in and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Stay for 5 breaths. Gently come out of the pose and repeat each step on the other side.
Note: This pose can be challenging! If you need more height underneath your hand, place two blocks on top of each other for more support.
Supported Shoulder Stand | 10 breaths
This posture helps to relieve stress, improves digestion, and stimulates the thyroid, which plays an important role in regulating metabolism.
- Lie on your back with your blocks by your side.
- Bend your knees and place your feet close to your hips.
- Press down into your feet and lift your hips high enough off the ground high to slide 1 or 2 blocks underneath your sacrum. Lower the back of your pelvis down onto the blocks.
- Lift one leg up at a time towards the ceiling and actively lengthen your legs toward a straight position. Keep your head straight to protect your neck.
- Stay here for 10 breaths.
Note: Don’t move your head from side to side while in shoulder stand – it’s important to keep it steady to prevent injury!
(Your Next Workout: Gentle Yoga Routine for Thyroid Balance)