Fluid Morning Flow
Do you feel a little creaky when you first wake up in the morning? During the night and other periods of inactivity, the cartilage in your joints absorbs some of the lubricating synovial fluid that helps keep things running smoothly. Gently moving the joints helps circulate the fluid, so after a few minutes on your yoga mat, your body feels better and you’re ready to launch into your day.
1. Cat-Cow (Chakravakrasana)
Cat-Cow movements get into all the little joints in your spine and neck, making it an ideal morning stretch to work out the kinks. Be sure to keep your elbows a little soft so everything feels mobile instead of locked into place.
Initiate motion with your tail bone and let it ripple along your spine as you move from cow to cat shape. Take a few breaths the first time you come into each position while gently rotating your head around and from side to side.
Begin to slowly shift back and forth between Cow and Cat on your breath. After a few cycles, incorporate any intuitive movements that you like. You might come back to a Child’s Pose and then slither forward, dipping your chest low to the ground. You can bend your elbows more deeply, roll out your shoulders one at a time, make hip circles. Anything that gets you moving and feels good.
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Curl your toes under to prepare to push back to Downward Facing Dog. Don’t be in a hurry to get there, however. Keeping the softness in your elbows, hover your knees above the floor for a beat. Then begin to straighten your legs and lift your tail. Pedal your legs, straightening them one at a time while bending the opposite knee.
Make your transition into Plank an undulation that rolls forward like a wave. Remember your Cat spine as you once again initiate your movement with your tailbone, coming forward slowly to bring your shoulders over your wrists. Continue to work with slightly bent elbows. Lift your belly toward your spine to pull yourself back to Downward Dog. Make the journey back and forth a few more times.
4. Low Lunge
Cat your back one more time as you step your right foot to the front of your mat for a Low Lunge. Stay up on the ball of your left foot, tent your fingers and look forward. Slowly begin to straighten your right leg any amount. You could go all the way to straight or keep a little or big bend in the knee. Just feel some stretching down your hamstring. Tack your right hip back in line with the left. More back and forth between a bent and straightened right leg several times.
5. Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)
Keeping your right hand to the outside of your right foot, shift the hand forward about 12 inches. Stay up on your fingertips or use a block under your right hand. Straighten your right leg as you lift your left foot off the floor to come into Half Moon Pose.
Your left hand comes first to your left hip to make sure that that hip is stacked on top of your right hip. Then open your chest to the left and lift your left hand toward the ceiling. Circle your left foot to rotate your ankle. Make several circles in each direction. Do the same with your left wrist.
After a few breaths, lower your left hand and foot back through a Low Lunge and return to Downward Facing Dog in order to go through the Lunge and Half Moon with the left foot forward.
We’ve moved from gentle poses to more active ones as you’ve woken up your joints. Now that that synovial fluid is doing what it should, leap up from your mat and jump into your day, perhaps stopping for coffee first.
Featured Yogi @jayomyoga