Ever wonder how every yoga instructor you meet has more energy than Jonathan Van Ness on Queer Eye, even at a 7 a.m. class? Yeah, coffee (or green tea) may play a role, but caffeine isn’t the only explanation. The secret is, well, yoga.
We were also skeptical when certified yoga instructor Brett Larkin told us. But she says her 15-minute morning routine centers the mind, balances the body, and jolts you awake with more lasting energy than an any coffee drink can provide.
Not only can yoga help you wake up, but it’s great for your mindset and physical fitness too. For starters, research shows it combats stress, so if you wake up freaked out about the day ahead, that’s all the more reason to roll out your mat.
A 2017 metanalysis showed that yoga can reduce the physical symptoms associated with anxiety, like increased heart rate, heightened cortisol levels, and elevated blood pressure.
Other studies have confirmed that when you’re stressed AF, yoga can essentially turn off your fight-or-flight response and tap into the parasympathetic nervous system instead, also known as rest-and-digest response.
On the flip side, if you’re a little down when you wake up, yoga’s great for that too. In 2013, researchers looked at studies spanning 619 participants who struggled with depression. They found moderate evidence that yoga was effective for providing a short-term boost.
Need a little more convincing to bust out some Sun Salutations? Studies show that yoga can reduce inflammation in the body. In 2015, researchers found that yogis had fewer inflammatory markers compared to a non-yoga group over a 5-year period.
It’s also a great way to squeeze in a quick workout, especially if you’re going to be sitting down for the rest of the day. In 2015, researchers found that yoga can improve muscular strength, flexibility, and endurance over a 12-week period.
We could go on and on about the health benefits of yoga, but let’s get on to the real reason you’re here: the workout!
Even on those mornings when you can barely drag yourself out of bed (we’ve been there), come to your mat — or simply your living room rug — for this sequence that anyone can do. There’s no experience or toe-touching flexibility required.
Not only do these feel-good poses perk you up, but they’ll also stretch your hips, wake up your shoulders, and lengthen your spine. The result: You’ll walk away feeling centered, focused, and ready to own the day.
Brett Larkin teaches yoga on her YouTube channel, where thousands of students have studied with her for more than 5 million minutes. Find free yoga playlists, yoga teacher training tips, and free dance, yoga, and meditation classes at BrettLarkin.com.