We can produce more of almost anything in this world except for the thing we all search for most– time. Once it’s over, it’s over. That reason alone is exactly why it’s essential–no, mandatory–to recognize that if you genuinely want to lead a better life, you must first learn to be the master of your own time. When it comes down to it, the quality of your minutes is all that truly matters.
The moment you wake up is the moment that the consequences of your daily life begin. The fact is, what you choose to do with your day, and the choices you make in each moment, can be significantly altered when you live in an active energy state. The energy that you’re feeling at any given moment, including now, is your current identity. The way you feel is in direct relation to how content, peaceful, patient, and loving you are, thus by feeling better, you live better. It’s not always that simple, we know, but sometimes it can be just an eight-minute daily ritual away.
Begin at the start of your day and use that ‘first-thing-in-the-morning’ time to commit to this high-energy practice. To make it a seamless addition to your life, add it to the top of the list you already have–enjoying your cup of coffee, brushing your teeth, and checking your email. The payoff you ask? How about the sensation of a stronger body, clearer mind, and greater energy?
This eight minutes to awesome is packed with five powerful movements that offer sustainable mind-body improvements far beyond the eight minutes it takes to complete.
Before starting keep in mind
1. Practice on an empty stomach. Hold the coffee till later.
2. Use a timer for each movement.
3. Prepare to get fired up for the day. Let the exercise reward you with an open heart, calm mind, and positive outlook.
4. Keep moving if eight minutes wasn’t enough. You’ve only just tapped into your energy source.
5. Focus on every breath, use your muscles to encourage clear decisions, release stale energies, and feel gratitude for this beautiful new day.
Ready? Set your timer.
1. AGNI SARA / UDDIYANA BANDHA – 2 minutes
It’s said that if you only do one practice a day, it should be agni sara with uddiyana bandha. This ancient exercise stimulates the internal fire (agni), helps relieve constipation, and strengthens the will. Plus, it gets the fire lit in the belly so you can rock your day!
How to do it
· From a standing position bend your knees and rest your hands just above them as you lean forward.
· Exhale completely and pull your belly back toward your spine and hold your breath.
· Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and lift your belly up behind your ribs to hollow out your torso, and tuck your chin in toward your chest (uddiyana bandha).
· Inhale when you need to and release the pelvic floor, belly, and chin.
Repeat this process over and over for up to 2 minutes.
2. DOWNWARD DOG – 2 minutes
The Dog is a buffet of delicious stretches. From squatting to back stretching to twisting, there’s a dog that suits your style. The dog opens up the backside of the body, from hamstrings and hips, to shoulders and neck. As an inverted posture, it brings fresh blood flow to the brain. If holding the pose for 2 minutes seems like too much to handle, you can mix it up by shaking your booty back and forth, lifting a leg or bending your knees.
How to do it
· Begin on your hands and knees in table pose with wrists under shoulders and knees under the hips.
· Spread your fingers wide and point the middle fingers forward directly to the top of your mat.
· Exhale and tuck your toes and lift the knees off the floor, slowly straightening your legs while reaching your sit bones toward the sky and pelvis toward your thighs.
· Draw your hamstrings toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs one at a time, working the heels toward the ground.
· Gaze between your legs or toward your navel and pause to feel the extension and buoyancy of your whole body.
· Release. Exhale and gently bend your knees returning to table pose.
3. SEATED TWIST – 2 minutes total / 1 minute per side
The seated twist is a solution when it comes to squeezing out internal tension that’s been difficult to shake. The twist opens the muscles around the spine, releases the wide muscles of the back and ignites the hip flexors.
How to do it
· Sit on your mat with your legs extended in front of you, bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground outside of your left thigh. You can keep your left leg long or bend it and place your left heel beside your right buttock.
· Wrap your left arm around your right leg and place your right hand on the ground behind your sacrum, turning your torso to the right.
· Gaze over your right shoulder, using each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to rotate farther to the right.
· Release the twist and practice this pose with the left knee pointing up.
4. BRIDGE – 1 minute
Bridge connects the top of the head to the soles of the feet because it stretches the entire front side of the body. With skillful breathing, the bridge ignites the chakras, stimulates the sexual organs, connects the mind to the heart center, and massages the thyroid. Feel the freedom to add a variation or two, such as positioning the arms above the head or interlacing the hands under the back to draw the shoulder blades together.
How to do it
· Lie on your back, bend the knees, and place the feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Inhale through the soles of the feet feeling the breath rise up the legs as you lift the hips up off the ground.
· Press down into the arms and shoulders to lift the chest up while interlacing your fingers beneath your sacrum.
· Release and slowly come down on an exhale feeling one vertebrae at a time kiss your mat with the waist, and then hips being the last to reach the ground.
5. INVERTED ACTION POSE – 1 minute
The lift of the inverted action pose originates in the legs and lower back, thus eliminating potential for strain in the neck and shoulders. One minute in this pose will allow you to reap all the benefits of being inverted, including draining the feet, ankles, and legs from stuck toxins.
How to do it
· Lie on your back, lift the knees to your chest. Straighten your legs so the feet are facing the sky.
· Peel your lower back off the ground while supporting each side of sacrum with your hands. Your legs will now be at a 90-degree angle and the upper back remains on mat. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed.
· Release your sacrum to the ground, hug your knees into your chest, then return to a reclined position.
All done! Total time – 8 minutes
Seizing the day, means seizing the moment.
It’s nobody’s fault, but the nasty truth is that sometimes life gets away from us. This EMA practice will not only encourage you to make the most of your early mornings–awakening your mind and body–but it will also help you to remain self-aware on how you truly spend those precious moments of your day.
So start now–use these 5 power movements and take all the guesswork (and time-suck) out of your yoga practice. If you keep it consistent, you’ll find yourself heading out the door ready to rock the day in a stronger, fully energized body with a clearer and more “awesome” state of mind.