You don't have to be a morning person to see the benefits.
On a typical morning, I wake up by 8:30 a.m. and start the day by journaling and making my bed. Sometimes I'll work out, but between finishing up the semester and starting my internship, my focus has been getting good grades and navigating the NYC subway system after I roll out of bed. I knew I wanted to add some sort of movement to my schedule, and when I saw Dr. Oz's morning yoga routine, it seemed like a fairly easy, low-impact way to get my blood pumping in the morning.
As part of System 20, Dr. Oz recommends to get your blood pumping in the morning, while you're still fasting. This is a great way to get your heart pumping, your muscles stretched, and fit in an easy seven-minute workout before you've even had your morning coffee.
I like to consider myself a productive human, but getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise before leaving for work (for several days in a row) seemed like an impossible feat. I challenged myself to begin the routine on a Thursday morning and continue with it for five days — including the weekend. The most difficult part of this challenge would definitely be managing to head out the door before my 6:20 a.m. bus arrived, but I was hoping the health benefits I'd get from getting moving would help me forget about that.
Dr. Oz's workout begins with a few push-ups. I have a petite frame and rarely focus on my arms when working out, so I was most nervous about these. Before I even started I had to remind myself that I didn't have to do each move perfectly and with ease to complete the workout challenge; I simply had to get started and see where it took me. After the pushups, the workout transitions into a yoga routine — an upward dog pose flows into a downward dog pose and then you go into warrior and triangle poses. This cycle of poses are made to stretch out different parts of the body and get blood flowing.
The Seven-Minute Workout
The entire workout should take seven minutes total, which definitely sounded like an attainable time frame. On the first day I was just focused on not being late. I chose what I'd be wearing to work the night before and had a pre-made breakfast ready for me to grab as I was heading out the door. All of these steps helped erase some of the stress that usually piles up in the morning. Just a little bit of planning really allowed me to clear my morning to get in less than 10 minutes of working out.
I started to notice an increase in my energy levels on day two. Despite not getting good sleep the night before, I found my morning yoga session helped keep me alert all day. I wondered how that was possible if I slept less than the recommended seven to nine hours. You would think that I would dread waking up for yoga even more on the second day – especially if I was tired. But when my alarm buzzed at 5 a.m., I had the following mindset: “If I did this yoga routine yesterday, I can definitely survive seven minutes today."
It turns out that the energy rush that encouraged me to ditch my pillow for a yoga mat has a direct link to the practice of yoga itself. Research published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2017 showed that performing yoga poses not only increased energy but caused a spike in self-confidence, too.
The energy spike I felt throughout this experiment even motivated me to head outside for a nature walk in the park with my boyfriend. Though yoga did help me regain some energy that was lost from a restless night's sleep, getting out of bed in the morning continued to be a challenge. I was waiting for this to change as my body got used to waking up earlier, but I found myself disappointed.
On day four, I had horrible stomach cramps and the thought of moving from my cozy bed seemed like an absolute no-go. Somehow, I decided to power through and perform the workout. Although parts of the routine took me a little bit longer this time, I persisted. I held each pose for 10 more seconds than usual and felt an incredible stretch on my lower abdominal area, subtly easing the discomfort felt in bed. The yoga really helped soothe my cramps, which was an additional bonus that truly surprised me.
What I came to realize is that this workout transcends beyond being a means to incorporate some daily stretching and exercise into your routine. The health benefits I felt were a welcomed surprise. My mornings transformed from “maybe I'll work out later" to “let's do this thing!" The mindset shift I felt was probably the most noticeable impact the change had on me. I had a better attitude toward working out and felt truly accomplished and proud of myself after completing it each day — all after just seven minutes of working out.
I truly did not know how much I needed this routine in the morning until I tried it. Although I thought I was making the most out of my mornings, I soon realized that having a pre-established and regimented routine shortly after getting out of bed is the starting point to craft a successful and energized day. Maybe waking up at 5 a.m. isn't the worst thing in the world for a refreshing and relaxing yoga experience, but... I may use the weekends to sleep in just a little bit longer (sorry, Dr. Oz)!
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