The Most Zen Way To Start Your Day

by Guest Writer

Your typical morning includes hitting snooze two or three times, gulping a tall, steaming mug of caffeine before running out of the house, and slogging through an exhausting commute only so you can recount it to coworkers over a second cup of coffee.

And then there’s Tara Stiles. The lithe model-turned-yoga instructor, fitness book author, and founder of the international studio Strala Yoga greets the day with an energizing set of stretches and poses called a Sun Salutation.

Start the minute-long routine by reaching up to the sky and inhaling a deep breath. Exhale as you bend over, placing hands on the ground, while keeping knees bent. Sway side to side to loosen up your hamstrings. Raise up so your back is flat, you’re looking forward, arms are hanging down, then go into a plank – or push up – position. Sink knees and hips down to the ground, opening up your body, looking over one shoulder, then the other. Get back on your knees then lift up your hips in the air until you find yourself in the Downward Dog position. Keep your neck muscles loose as you feel the stretch. Then walk your feet back toward your hands, and roll up one vertebra at a time. Bring your arms up over your head, inhaling deeply. Then exhale and let all your muscles soften.

Stiles demonstrates the motions in her Yoga Rebel video series on media platform Ulive. Watch her go through the routine until you get the hang of it, then try it on your own. Repeat the series of movements each morning until your body and mind feel revived, and complete your healthy wake up call with a fresh fruit smoothie or green juice.

Still can’t pry your eyes open with a crowbar before 8 a.m.? Stiles devised a simple routine you can do in bed right before going to sleep to calm any restlessness you still have from the day. While sitting in crossed-legged position, focus on your breathing, then start stretching from side to side. Reach behind you and stretch out your back, arching your spine up. Lay on your back with knees curled up to your chest, and stretch right then left. Lastly, put legs up on the wall and feel the blood rush back to your body, relieving tired and achy limbs.

With a wind-down routine like that, you should be able to get your full eight hours – and maybe even wake up with the sun the next morning.

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