When you're brainstorming ways to combat your weekday morning grogginess, the office Nespresso is probably the more obvious choice than any kind of physical activity. But while caffeine can be a beautiful, beautiful thing, there are actually quicker (and less jittery) ways to boost your energy on the fly—namely, via yoga. (It's not just about relaxing.)
There's an important distinction between grounding yoga poses and those that fire us up, says yoga instructor Danielle Acoff. "Energizing poses get your heart pumping," she explains. "They're invigorating and build heat in the body, especially if you hold them for longer periods of time." On the flip side, "grounding poses are calming and involve connecting and rooting to the ground. To be grounded is to be centered, balanced and stable."
On that note, keep reading for an easy yoga sequence that can actually replace that third (fourth?) cup of coffee.
But First, Breathing
Before diving into the specific poses, it's crucial to establish proper breath. "Mindful breath is the key," says Acoff. "Inhale fully through the nose, filling up the lungs, and exhale fully through the nose. This is called ocean breath or Ujjayi breathing." Keep it going throughout the entire sequence.
A Quick Yoga Routine for Instant Energy
- Start in forward fold: Standing with your feet planted on the ground and your legs straight, hinge at your hips so that your fingertips reach toward the floor and your nose meets your knees.
- Sit on your butt and lay back for bridge or wheel pose. If you're opting for bridge, bend your knees, plant your feet on the ground, and lift your hips. Tuck your shoulder blades, plant your arms, and hold. (Only go for wheel if it's in your practice already.)
- Come back to sitting with your legs forward and press up into an upward plank. Position your hands underneath your shoulders (fingers facing forward), and plant your hands and your feet. Lift the rest of your body and let your head fall back.
- Come back to sitting and fold forward for seated forward bend. You're simply draping the top half of your body over your straight, outstretched legs.
- Hold, then roll back on the spine to plow pose. With your legs fully extended, gently swing them over your body and head so that your toes touch the ground behind your head. Your torso should be perpendicular to the floor, and your arms are grounded on the floor in front of you. Or alternatively, you can gently support your lower back with your hands (your elbows should still be grounded). To get out of plow, slowly lift your legs back over your head and lower your back down to the ground, one vertebra at a time.
- Now, bring your knees to chest for three rolls on the spine to come to chair pose. You're essentially trying to use the momentum of rolling to get to your feet without using your hands. Once in chair, you'll "sit" with your butt down and your knees bent, thighs and core engaged. Reach your arms up next to your ears.
- Stand up straight. That's it!
"It's short, sweet, and jumps-starts your engine," says Acoff. If you're really dedicated, keep a yoga mat like the Cotton On Body Active Mat ($20) rolled up under your desk. (A quick reminder: Don't try any new poses without the supervision and guidance of a yoga professional.)