No matter what your day has in store for you, starting it with yoga puts you on track for a happier and healthier day. Practicing first thing in the morning gives your body the chance to stretch, ability to focus, and prepare for what’s ahead. Below we explain the major benefits of starting your day with yoga.
Start the Day with an Energy Boost
Too often our days begin with a racing mind full of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Yoga gives us the chance to focus on our breath, listen to our bodies and calm our minds. Some poses are perfect for reducing fatigue and adjusting cortisol levels – the hormone related to stress and anxiety. Taking a little time to stretch, breathe and boost our energy levels with a few yoga poses designed to open chakras, rejuvenate the mind and strengthen muscles is the ideal way to start any day.
The focus on breath is consistent across all types of yoga and this increased oxygen helps to wake the brain up gently and without any of the downsides, caffeine has. The energy boost from these breathing exercises will last all day long too.
Morning routines that include exercise of any kind can increase your productivity for the rest of the day. Exercise boosts endorphins and with it, wakefulness. Encouraging an alert and calm mind with exercise at the beginning of the day works with our natural circadian rhythms. This enables us to approach the day with focus, clarity and be better organized. As a result, we get more done throughout the day, with more ease, and sleep well when it gets to bedtime – creating a positive rhythm in our lives.
Stretching for Strength
Stretching in the morning is almost an automatic reaction. When we sleep, our muscles relax and fluid tends to pool along our backs. Stretching helps to move the fluid back into our muscles and increases our flexibility. Stretching each morning with yoga not only prepares our bodies for the day ahead. It also prevents injuries, builds their strength and can improve performance. The particular poses of yoga also teach us better balance and stability, giving us the basis for better posture throughout the day.
A morning yoga practice will help you maintain balance between your mind and body. A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience followed a group participating in a three-month yoga retreat and found increases in the plasma levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neuromodulator that plays an important role in learning, memory and the regulation of complex processes such as inflammation, immunity, mood regulation, stress response and metabolism. Regular exercise such as yoga every morning also helps to stimulate the brain regions involved in memory, keeping us sharp, helping us to learn faster, and make connections between old and new information quicker.
Enhances Your Metabolism
Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of our body’s functions that help control rest and digestion. Comprised mainly of cranial and sacral spinal nerves, our parasympathetic system decreases our heart rate, blood pressure and constricts our bronchial muscles while increasing digestion and helping to move nutrients through the body, when stimulated. Improving our digestion through stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system also improves gut health, causing a positive domino effect within our bodies. Another great reason to practice yoga before your morning porridge!
It’s not just BDNF production that is boosted by yoga. GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid, a chemical that helps regulate nerve activity and is linked to improved mood and decreased anxiety is also increased with a yoga session. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it works to calm neurons and promote relaxation. Interestingly, GABA receptors are found in both the brain and the gut. The gut receptors use GABA to communicate with your brain and influence your emotions. Activating both A and B receptors can improve performance along with mood. This combination of BDNF and GABA could be the chemical basis for the energized yet grounded feeling that is induced by a morning yoga session.
Adding yoga to your morning routine will improve your outlook and start your day well. Simply rising 10 – 15 minutes earlier each morning should be enough to fit in some yoga stretches and poses to help you get your day off on the right foot.
This is a guest post by Stephanie James. Stephanie James is health enthusiast by day, and freelance writer by night. She loves to cover all things wellness and fitness, and encourages others to make all aspects of their health a priority.