By Suzanne Mckenzie
Confession: I could be waking up to a day spent playing with puppies and drinking wine on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and I would still probably hit snooze between three and five times. No matter how much I'm looking forward to my day, or how many hours of restful sleep I got the night before, getting up and getting moving when I hear that dreaded alarm has never been an easy feat for me.
So what's a snooze-button-lovin' girl to do? Lucky for me, I'm far from the only person with this problem; so in search of a source of early morning energy that doesn't involve copious amounts of black coffee or an ice cold shower, Bustle teamed up with Athleta to find an answer.
And guess what? All it took was a little expert advice from New Vibe Yoga founder Alex Schatzberg to help me realize that the secret to waking up in the morning was hiding in plain sight the whole time, just masquerading as a popular post-work workout. Yup, that's right — yoga.
"We wake up stiffer than when we go to bed," Schatzberg tells Bustle. "Stiffness causes agitation and discomfort in the mind, so starting the day by ridding the stiffness of the body helps you to be more comfortable throughout the day, and if you’re more comfortable, you’re going to be a happier, nicer person."
OK, I'm sold.
And no matter how you prefer to get moving, Schatzberg emphasizes that it's all built on your breath: "Deep breathing oxygenates the body and wakes up the brain and the mind, so it’s a really good way to activate your senses before you go into the office or have to be totally alert in the morning."
Here are six energizing yoga poses to try tomorrow morning instead of hitting snooze.
1. Side Stretch
Starting your morning with a stretch is something that most of us do naturally without even realizing it. Adding intention to that daily ritual by gently pulling your opposite wrist or elbow over your head will help you lengthen and wake up your side body, which is super necessary for anyone who spends eight hours per night sleeping in the fetal position (guilty!).
And bonus: this pose works just as well standing as it does sitting if you, you know, just can't in the morning.
2. Half Pigeon Pose
Yogis are familiar with the intense challenge and relief that comes from ending class with a hip opener. Easing into this pose at the start of your day lets you seriously stretch some of the body's biggest muscles and joints, the glutes, and the hips.
Begin in a downward dog, reach your right foot to your right hand, then lower your knee and shin to the floor, allowing your legs to take the shape of the number seven.
3. Triangle Pose
A surefire way to snap yourself out of that sleepy early morning fog? Balance! But before you try anything too extreme, spend a few deep breaths in triangle pose for a satisfying inner thigh stretch and some light introduction to finding your balance.
Start in Warrior II, then reach forward and down, resting your hand on your shin or on the floor if you want to get even deeper.
4. Dancer's Pose
When you're ready to add a little challenge to your balance game, dancer's pose provides amazing stretch and strengthening for your leg and ankle. Whether you stand on the subway or cram yourself into your car, this pose will help you conquer your morning commute.
Stand straight with your arms by your sides, and focus your gaze on something that's not moving. Put your weight onto your right foot then use your left arm to reach back and grab your left foot from behind.
5. Downward Dog
Ah, what's better than the first downward dog of class? Luckily, no class is required to reap the benefits of this whole-body pose. Holding it first thing in the morning releases the lower back and stretches everything from the arms to the back of the body, so you can banish stiffness right from the start.
Ensure proper alignment by starting on all fours, then lift your knees up and shift back with the arms and hips so the legs are almost straight — just don't lock out the knees.
6. Cobra Pose
An articulated cobra pose helps you open an area that's notoriously difficult to stretch — your chest. And if you're gearing up for a day of hunching over a computer, this pose is the perfect way to set the stage for good posture. Start by laying on your stomach, then use your arms to lengthen out the front body, keeping your thighs on the floor.
No matter what sequence of movements works best for your body, anything that gets your blood pumping is going to start your day off on the right track. As yoga guru Schatzberg tells Bustle, "If you’re feeling better in your own body, you’re going to put out better energy into the world."
Photographer: Remi Pyrdol; Wardrobe Stylist: Stacey Cunningham; Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi; Makeup Artist: Tiffany Patton; Art Director: Molly Kugelmann; Producer: Nancy Valev; Editor: Suzanne McKenzie