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, same. You may assume it’s coffee, but it might actually be morning yoga.
Yoga. Exercise. Moving. First thing. In the morning. Okay, is that even worth it? You could say we were skeptical when certified yoga instructor Brett Larkin told us this is what gives her that a.m. boost. But she reaffirms that her 15-minute morning routine centers your mind, balances your body, and jolts you awake with more lasting energy than any coffee drink can provide.
We were curious about what the research had to say about Larkin’s claims. Turns out, she may be onto something.
1. Relieves stress for more chill vibes in your day
Not only can yoga help you wake up, but may be great for your mindset and physical fitness too. For starters, research shows it can combat stress, so if you wake up wigged out about the day ahead, that’s all the more reason to roll out your mat and roll back those shoulders.
A 2017 meta analysis showed that yoga can reduce the physical symptoms associated with anxiety, like increased heart rate, heightened cortisol levels, and elevated blood pressure. BTW: Prolonged stress and anxiety isn’t great for health long-term, so it might be worth a try.
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.
2. Combats depression
On the flip side, if you’re a little down when you wake up, perhaps a little downward dog could help. In 2013, researchers looked at studies spanning 619 participants who lived with depression. They found moderate evidence that yoga was effective for providing a short-term boost.
3. Reduces inflammation
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 nonyoga group over a 5-year period.
4. Improves overall fitness
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 (us every Monday), consider coming 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. (Thank goodness.)
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.