Morning yoga can help you start your day calm, centered and strong. So, we turned to professional SUP Yoga Instructor Gillian Gibree to get the scoop on the best morning moves.
Gibree has been passionate about water sports and yoga for years, even starting her own business—Paddle Into Fitness—to train other potential SUP yoga instructors. A big advocate of morning yoga, Gibree highlights seven key moves to help you feel resilient and refreshed as you start your day.
Benefits: Calms and relaxes the body, slows the mind and opens the hips.
Begin in child’s pose with big toes touching, knees out wide and fingertips reaching forward. Allow the hips to sink down toward the ground, with your forehead on the mat. Take some time to settle in here, perhaps swaying the hips side to side, rolling out the forehead. Take three deep cleansing breaths—big inhale with full expansion of the lungs and slow open mouth exhales—releasing everything out.
Benefits: Warms up and strengthens the spine and neck, and improves posture.
Come into a table top position, placing the hands under shoulders and knees hip width distance apart. Spread fingers wide and keep the neck neutral. Moving into cat/cow, Inhale for cow—lift the gaze, dip the belly. On the exhale curl and round like a cat, tucking the chin into the chest while tailbone tucks under. Inhale for cow, exhale cat. Continue to move through cat/cow continuing breathing, finding any other organic movements to warm up the spine.
Benefits: Activates and strengthens the core, arms, legs and glutes.
From table top position, extend the right fingertips forward at shoulder height while extending the left toes back. Keep the hips square, core engaged, with one long line of energy from fingertips to toes. Find three rounds of breath here. For an added challenge: round the spine and draw the elbow in towards the knee then breathe. Inhale lengthen, exhale curl three times. Release into table top and repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: Stretches the shoulders, upper back and neck.
Inhale to twist open, reach the right arm up, exhale thread the arm through and then bring right shoulder and right ear down to the ground, while keeping the hips square. One option—find the bind by wrapping the left hand behind the back, reaching for the inner thigh. Release and repeat on left side.
Benefits: Elongates the spine and opens up and stretches the shoulder blades and upper back.
From table top draw the knees together. Tuck the chin towards the chest and bring the crown of the head down to the ground, with forehead touching the knees (or as close as comfortable). Bring the hands behind you and grab the ankles. Exhale out. On the inhale, lift the hips high while pulling on the ankles, creating an opening across the shoulder blades and stretch along the spine, with little to no weight on the crown. Release and slowly roll back up.
Benefits: Activates the core muscles and builds strength throughout the body.
Plant the palms, step the feet back into a high plank with shoulders stacked over wrists. Draw the crown forward and the heels back. Tailbone slightly tucks, activating the core muscles. Relax between the shoulder blades. Find three rounds of breath here—full inhalation and slow exhalations.
Benefits: Strengthens the shoulders and stretches the hamstrings.
Lift the hips high and come to downward facing dog. Peddle out the feet, take deep knee bends, find any movements before settling into your dog. Find an inverted V, with a long flat spine, neck relaxed between the shoulders. Draw the heels down while pressing the shoulders away from the ears. Remain here for three breaths.