Some of us are hesitant to do yoga, because we think it's all about saying "om" and barely breaking a sweat. But anyone who’s ever gone to a power Vinyasa or Bikram class or finally mastered the Crow pose knows that the right kind of yoga can make you sweat bullets, challenge your muscles, and leave you feeling totally energised.
There’s a good case for doing a little yoga right when you wake up, too. “The right morning yoga routine will increase your flexibility, range of motion, and build strength to prep your body for an optimal day,” says Anthony Chavez, director of personal transformation at CorePower Yoga.
Need a little boost in the morning? Try these five poses from Chavez.
1. Mountain pose with side bends
Right and left sides, 3 to 5 sets
Stand up, reach your arms overhead, and put your palms together. Then reach as far right as you can without separating your palms. Repeat to your left. Do three to five sets.
Why you need it in the a.m.: To open up both sides of your body, which makes it easier to breathe more deeply, says Chavez. “This move also mimics our body’s natural desire to stretch upon waking.”
2. Chair pose squats
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Reach your arms above your head. Bend your knees as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. Engage your core. Hold for one breath, then straighten your legs and repeat 10 times.
Why you need it in the a.m.: Yoga’s version of the squat gets your heart rate up and gets the biggest muscles in your body to start pumping blood, says Chavez. “Dynamic movement is the best way to ‘warm up’ the body and prep it for the day ahead.”
3. Downward dog
3 to 5 reps
Start in a plank pose, then press your hips up and back so your body is in an inverted ‘V’. Hold this for 10 breaths. Repeat three to five times.
Why you need it in the a.m.: Because it’s a go-to yoga pose for good reason: “It will activate nearly every muscle group in your body to kick off the day,” says Chavez.
4. Chaturanga and upward dog
From Downward Dog, shift forward into plank pose, lower your body halfway down by bending your elbows around 90 degrees. Flip your feet over so that your toenails are pressing down. Inhale, straighten your arms, and actively pull your body forward. Return to Downward Dog on your exhale. Hold for one breath. Repeat five times.
Why you need it in the a.m.: This “yoga pushup” has the added benefits of stretching and opening the front line of your body (which can grow tight from leaning over a computer all day), notes Chavez. “Chaturanga encourages full body stabilization and strength while upward dog provides a big stretch for your chest and abs.”
5. Alternating runner's lunge
Right and left sides, 1 set each
From downward dog, shift your weight forward to high plank then step your right foot to the front right corner of your mat. Bend your right knee, let your left knee drop to the mat, then distribute your weight evenly. Hold your right leg for 30 seconds to one minute then step back into downward dog. Repeat on the left side.
Why you need it in the a.m.: It’s an intense stretch that opens your hip flexors, quads, and glutes. “It also supports overall flexibility and counters any sitting you will do throughout your day,” says Chavez.
This article originally appeared in Men's Health