The Best Yoga Positions for Waking Up and Winding Down

Yoga is a great way to channel energy, whether it's to relax or to wake yourself up, and it's a far better option than coffee in the morning and sleeping pills at night! If you've never done yoga before then I strongly recommend trying a class out - there are loads of great reasons why you should try yoga. To help get your body in sync with your brain first thing in the morning and last thing at night, Sophie Keil, Principal yoga teacher at YogaBellies gave me her tips on what are the best yoga positions for waking your body up, and relaxing.  

To wake up

The sun salutation is an energising sequence of poses originally designed to be done in the direction of the sun. It's almost like a morning ritual which allows you to acknowledge the beginning of a new day and, once practised, enables you to open your mind and body, helping you to tackle the day ahead. Practising sun salutations first thing in the morning when your body is only just awake will encourage you to listen to what your body is saying, giving you the opportunity to mindfully approach your practice and not push too hard when you're not ready. Subsequently this mindfullness can be taken with you throughout your day and make you feel ready to take on the world.  

To wind down

In contrast to the energising set of sequences in the sun salutations, there's a still and calming posture which is wonderful for allowing you to wind down before you go to sleep. Viparita karani (or legs up the wall pose) is deeply restorative and has a profoundly relaxing effect which can help you drift off into a peaceful sleep.
  1. Take one or two folded blankets or a bolster and place them against a wall.
  2. Sit with your left shoulder facing the wall, and as you lie back across the blankets, swing your legs up the wall.
  3. Hold the pose for 10-15 minutes, then gently come out of it the way you entered, noticing your calm and relaxed state of mind.
[caption id="attachment_58339" align="alignnone" width="643"]Image credit: http://craving4more.com/2013/06/06/legs-up-the-wall-viparita-karani/ Image credit: http://craving4more.com/2013/06/06/legs-up-the-wall-viparita-karani/[/caption]
Night yoga is a great way to relax your body and prepare for sleeping. After a long day of work and family obligations, doing some simple yoga stretches and deep breathing is a great way to relieve any stress from the day.   Featured image source: http://yogasimple.net  

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