As the nights draw in in the Northern Hemisphere, it can feel like the low light and cold weather are sapping your energy. Waking up in the dark and going to bed in the dark can make you feel rather glum, so we spoke to a NASM-qualified personal trainer, Elethia Gay, to get her advice on how to boost energy levels in the morning.
"I start my mornings off right with a powerful line-up of energizing poses," says Gay.
"This routine revitalizes my body and mind, leaving me feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day ahead. I only do this routine once however you can make it longer and add cardio like jumping jacks, high knees, or breath work."
This eight-move workout combines yoga poses with full-body exercises, so you'll be strengthening and stretching your body at the same time. You can do it quickly after waking up, or take your time and repeat it two or three times.
How to do the energizing morning workout
- Push-ups: 10 repetitions
- Plank: 10-15 seconds
- Downward Dog: 5-10 breaths
- Cat-cow: 8-10 rounds
- Seated ear to shoulder pose: 6 on each side
- Seated shoulder rolls: 5-10 in each direction
- Seated forward bend: 6 breaths
Reps: 10 Sets: 1-3
Start with your body face facing the floor, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms straight, pushing off the ground. Extend your legs straight out behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Keep your back and core engaged, forming a straight line from your head to your heels.
Lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows, keeping them tucked in close to your sides. Continue to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
Take a brief pause, then use your hands to push and straighten your elbows. This will lift your body back to the initial position. Be sure to exhale as you push up and inhale as you lower down.
Time: 10-15 seconds Sets: 1-3
Begin with your body hovering above the ground, supported by your forearms and toes. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your body straight and in alignment from your head to your heels. Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel toward your spine. Hold this position for as long as you can, aiming for at least 15 seconds to start.
Gay advises that you can take breaks or drop to your knees if you feel any pain or discomfort during the move. She also suggests increasing the duration of the planks as you build strength.
3. Downward dog
Time: 5-10 breaths Sets: 1-3
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Curl your toes under and press into your hands as you lift your knees off the ground, straightening your legs as much as possible. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, creating an inverted V shape with your body.
As you do this, press your chest back towards your thighs and lengthen your spine. Engage your core and push your heels down towards the ground, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings and calves. Relax your neck and let your head hang between your arms, gazing towards your feet. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths.
Reps: 8-10 Sets: 1-3
Start on all fours with your hands stacked directly beneath your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart.
Inhale and arch your back, lowering your belly towards the ground, while lifting your gaze and tailbone upward (this is cat pose). Exhale and curve your spine in the opposite direction, rounding your back, tucking your tailbone under, and dropping your head (cow pose). Continue alternating between these two poses, moving with your breath.
5. Seated ear to shoulder pose
Reps: 6 on each side Sets: 1-3
Seated in an easy cross-legged pose, exhale and take the head and neck towards the right side, bringing the right ear close to the right shoulder. Do this without moving the shoulders and the arms.
Inhale, come up and back to the center. Then exhale and go towards the left side taking the neck and head towards the left shoulder. Inhale, come back up to center and repeat on the other side.
6. Seated shoulder rolls
Hold for: 5-10 in each direction Sets: 1-3
Sit comfortably on a mat with legs crossed and hands resting on thighs. While maintaining this comfortable position, gently start rolling shoulders up towards the ears and back down in a smooth forward circular motion.
With every inhalation, the shoulders should be pulled up, touching the ears, and with every exhalation drop the shoulders down again. Try closing your eyes while you do this and once you have repeated 5-10 rotations in one direction, reverse the movement.
7. Seated forward bend
Reps: 6 breaths Sets: 1-3
Begin by sitting upright with your legs stretched in front of you. Roll your shoulders back and place your palms on the floor by the side of the hips. Take a few deep breaths here.
Inhale, and extend your arms up. Exhale and fold over, grabbing onto your big toes. If you're not able to do this, try placing your hands beside your legs, in line with your shins, or you can hook a strap or towel around your feet and hold onto the ends of this instead.
Take a deep breath, lift your head, and look up. Then exhale and look down towards the ground and deepen your forward fold. Stay here for six slow and deep breaths. As you inhale, lift and lengthen your torso. As you exhale, relax a little more into the forward bend.
To release the pose, exhale, look up, then inhale and sit up. Try to push your pelvic bone up and forward as you sit up, which will engage your core and avoid putting strain on your lower back.
Elethia Gay is a NASM-qualified trainer and yoga teacher. She is the founder of the Roots to Wellness program, a virtual training platform for women, and the non-profit Hiking for Hope group.
Need help finding a new exercise mat? Our guide to the best yoga mat can help
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Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.
Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.
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