Quick energy boost
Enjoy this short vibrant yoga practice which will help you to wake up and energise for the day ahead. By Isabel Lankester
1. Ardha Uttanasana (Half-Way Lift)
Starting in mountain pose (Tadasana) with the hands alongside your body. Close your eyes and feel the stability rising up from your feet. Notice a lean towards the balls of the feet and then backwards into the heels. Finally, rest in your centre of gravity. Here, we begin with a neutral stance. Open your eyes, take an inhale and reach your arms up, looking towards your thumbs in Urdhva Hastasana (image not shown). Take a big exhale and then begin to forward fold towards the floor. Let your hands rest either on the ground or on blocks to bring the earth towards you, in Uttanasana (not shown). Inhale to a half way lift, Ardha Uttanasana (see image 1).
2. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Now plant your hands and step the right foot back, and lower the right knee down. Lift your arms upwards into Anjaneyasana or low lunge (see image 2). Notice a lift out of the lower back, as you reach upwards and slightly backwards. Press a lot of weight into your right foot, spreading the toes across the ground to prevent a collapse into your hip socket. The fingers should feel light and weightless here, as you create extra support via the back knee. If you feel pinching in the back knee remember to roll up the side of your mat for extra support. Draw your belly up and in, so that the feeling of support dilates from the feet upwards towards the hips, torso and chest.
3. Anjaneyasana (Low-Lunge Cactus Variation)
As you exhale, cactus the arms into a U-shape, Anjaneyasana, or low lunge cactus variation (see image 3). Pause here for a few breaths while the body adjusts to this heart opener. Can you feel the scapula on the back of the body squeeze together, while the heart and collar bones spread open?
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
Exhale, step back into a plank pose, lowering down onto your knees, chest and chin. Slide onto your tummy and press into your hands. Inhale for baby cobra (Bhujangasana - image not shown). Exhale, start to draw back into downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana – see image 4) where you can walk out your legs by alternately bending your knees. Use your down dog to feel into weightlessness as you press your hands and feet against the ground, noticing space and lightness within the navel area. Feel your belly button hugging into your spine, chin drawing into your chest. Notice how the muscles which hold up your neck feel soft and light as your tail rises to the sky. Lift your heels up and down to open up the back of the legs. Now find stillness and pause in this shape. After a few breaths, step forwards towards the top of your mat. Keeping the hands on the floor/blocks, inhale take a half way lift of your chest once again (Ardha Uttanasana). Draw the belly in and lean your weight back into the heels without lifting the toes away from the ground. Exhale forward fold again into Uttanasana. Pressing into the ground, lift both arms up to the sky and look upwards, Urdhva Hastasana, then bring hands to heart to finish in Samasthiti (not shown). Now repeat the same sequence stepping back to the left foot this time into Anjaneyasana, your low lunge (see image 2) and then into cactus variation (see image 3).
5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank)
Now there is an option to step back into plank pose, but instead of lowering the knees, engage your abdominals here, feeling the front of the legs switch on before bending your elbows into a low plank (Chaturanga Dandasana (see image 5).
6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
Inhale, lengthen through the legs, press into your hands to rise up into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, or upward-facing dog, (see image 6). Feel the front of your feet press into the ground, back of the neck is long as you feel the shoulder blades roll backwards to open the heart. Press into your hands and sit back into child’s pose, Balasana (not shown) before tucking toes and lifting yourself up once more into a downwards-facing dog.
8. Downward Dog Variation
To conclude this energising practice from down dog, lift the right leg up and back, stack the right hip and hold here. Let the head hang in space, notice how your heart rate can begin to slow down in this gentle inversion. After a few breaths, repeat on the left side, before coming into a quiet seat on the ground for Sukhasana, or easy pose (image not shown).
7. Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
From downwards-facing dog, move the chest forward into plank, lean into the right hand and lift the left arm up. Stacking the hips and lifting through the underside of the belly into Vasisthasana (side plank). Hold for a few breaths. If you need extra support, lower the right knee to the floor. Repeat on the left side when you’re ready.
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