Welcome to the launch of Wellness Council, our handpicked holistic health squad: a tightly curated group that gives the best advice this side of your own personal guru.
In her debut article, world-renowned yogi Colleen Saidman Yee leads you through the most snuggly asanas you’ve ever seen. What she writes about next is up to you—tell us what what you’re dying to know! Send questions and ideas to [email protected].
Have you ever had those days when you’ve already hit the snooze button twice, and want to do it again—but feel like you should really drag your butt out of bed and do some yoga?
You know that your day will be much better if you get on your mat. Well, here’s a solution for you: 10 minutes of yoga before your feet even hit the floor…
Turn yourself around so that your head is at the foot of the bed (and the possibility to crawl back under the sheets is less available).
1. Lie on your back, fold one leg deeply, and cross it over your body for a spinal twist.
Stay for five breaths, and change sides. This will help to wring out the night’s stagnation, as well as your intestines. You may even get a small chiropractic adjustment.
2. Then lie on your side and prop your head up in what my husband Rodney and I call “TV-watching position.”
We all want to breathe easily throughout the day, and this will help. TV-watching position clears out the sleep from the side ribs which makes the breath easier, which leads to a calmer nervous system.
3. Variation of TV watching pose.
When we sleep, “fuzz” collects. It’s tissue that can collect in our muscles, almost like the sleep that we get in the corners of our eyes. One of the main places that fuzz collects is our ribs. So with TV-watching position, we’re lengthening our waist and freeing up our ribs so that they move more easily with the breath. Take it one step deeper by straightening the top arm over your ear, and stretching your waist longer. Stay for five breaths in each variation and on each side.
4. Now we will begin backbends, which are wake-up poses.
We’ll start subtly so we don’t jar the body and the nervous system, as your mother did when she would come into your room and say, “Rise and shine!” as she opened the blinds so you had to pull the covers back over your head. Start by taking a simple crossed-legged position on your back with your arms overhead, grabbing hold of opposite elbows. This begins to open the chest to receive the day and the breath. Take five cycles of breath and then change your arm and leg position.
5. Now we’re ready for the big energizer: a backbend hanging off the edge of the bed.
Scoot yourself to the edge of the bed and keep sliding until the edge of the mattress is just below your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers behind your head and strongly press your legs into the bed. Stay for five cycles of breath, then change the interlace of your fingers (that is, put the other index finger on top), and stay for five more cycles of breath.
6. Be careful coming out of the backbend, so that you don’t get a big head rush.
Shimmy yourself back on the bed and hang out for a couple of breaths, noticing how you feel. Slowly come to sit with your back against the wall in a comfortable seat—simple crossed-legged, or half or full lotus—and meditate on your breath for ten cycles. Notice the stories that come and go, but don’t attach to them.
7. Then holler for whoever is in the house to bring you your favorite caffeinated (or non-caffeinated) beverage, and sip away.
Congrats. You’ve just ticked yoga off your list and you’re ready for the day.
Colleen Saidman, one of the world’s most celebrated yoga instructors, is the co-founder and co-director of Yoga Shanti in New York City, and Sag Harbor, NY, where she teaches along with her husband, yoga luminary Rodney Yee. She’s also the author of Yoga for Life : A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom (2015).
What should Colleen write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected]. And learn more about her path from college-dropout and through addiction to yoga superstar in this interview.