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Good morning, sunshine

Feel free to add things to make this yoga sequence your own. Yoga is all about finding what feels good for your body. Please leave comments to let me know how the sequence worked for you.

Words by Samantha Ickes

Getting motivated for that 9 a.m. class can be difficult when you wake up feeling tired and sluggish from staying up late the night before.

I know when my alarm goes off every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 a.m., I struggle to get out of bed. My eyelids feel heavy, and staying underneath my comforter sounds so much better than walking to my first class in Franklin Hall.

Waking up to a pot of fresh-brewed coffee or grabbing that espresso from Starbucks on your way to class may be part of your daily routine. According to an article from The Huffington Post, 30 seconds of vigorous exercise can have the same effect as a shot of caffeine.

I don’t know about you, but doing burpees and jumping jacks early in the morning sounds like way too much work before class. That’s why I started a morning yoga routine: It’s a lighter form of exercise that jump starts my day (though I still enjoy a vanilla chai tea before class every now and then).

This yoga sequence takes 10 to 15 minutes and contains postures to stretch the muscles that may be tight in the morning.

1. Cat Cow Pose

Body target: back pain relief

Start in tabletop position with your arms pressing against the mat directly under your shoulders and your knees curled beneath your hips. Slowly arch your back like a cat, breathing in deeply. As you exhale push your belly down to make a dip in the small of your back. Repeat this three or four times, being careful to maintain deep, steady breathing.

2. Forearm Plank

Body target: core

Transition from tabletop position to plank by resting your forearms against the mat. Next, extend your right leg back, pressing your toes into the mat. Do the same with the left leg to reach the plank position. Try to hold this position for 30 seconds or 10 breaths. After a few breaths, your body may become shaky. The more you work on planks, the easier it will become.

3. Triangle Pose

Body target: full-body stretch

To create more of a flow in this sequence there will be a few positions before arriving in triangle pose.

First, shift your weight up and back into downward facing dog. You may hold this pose for a couple breaths before stepping your right leg up into a runner’s lunge. From here, pivot the left foot out toward the edge of the mat as you rise up with both arms straight above your head. Your torso should be facing the front of the mat, and your right knee should remain bent. This position is known as warrior one. As you twist your body to the left, open your arms outward like an airplane: warrior two. Tilt to the right to make your right fingertips touch the mat. As you do this, straighten your bent knee to make a triangle with your arms and legs. You may hold this position for a few breaths or repeat on the left side of the body.

4. Low Lunge

Body target: legs and thighs

Place both hands on your thigh and twist your back leg till your toes are pointing to the front of the mat. Drop your back knee onto the mat and keep your spine straightened with your gaze facing forward. Lift one arm in a 45-degree angle and repeat on the opposite side. You may want to repeat the lunge with the opposite foot forward to get an even stretch.

5. Open Hip

Body target: legs and arms

Plant both hands on the mat and step your legs back toward the edge of the mat to transition from a low lunge to downward facing dog. Bend your right knee and twist it up to open up your hips to the right side. If it feels good you might want to try drawing circles one way and then the other for a better stretch. Repeat this process on the other side before returning to downward facing dog.

6. Final Stretching

Body target: full body stretch

Slowly walk your hands toward you, placing them on top of your feet. This is called a forward fold. This move is a position to explore and stretch the body with simple movements that are a great way to end a workout. Try hanging limp like a ragdoll, walking your hands from the left side of your body to the right side or grabbing onto your elbows and swinging back and forth.

Finally, with a deep breath open your arms and stretch up toward the sky, opening up your body in a full stretch. Meet your palms above your head and draw them down to the center of your heart. Continue deep breathing until you feel you are ready to begin your day.

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