Yoga postures are one of the fastest ways to realign your clients’ bodies and minds to work optimally, in unison, and for the desired effect of either generating centered energy or quiet calm. The key is to intersperse practice sessions with either heart-opening or forward-folding postures to invoke physiological and neurological responses that will move your client energetically in the desired direction, be that enlivening or resting both the body and mind.
For uplifting workouts in the morning or to stave off that afternoon energetic slump, choreograph heart-lifting postures throughout the course of the workout, perhaps one at the end of every 8 to 10 minutes of flow. For refreshing workouts in the late afternoon or calming workouts in evening, aim for a series of relaxing postures at the end of the workout when the muscles are very warm and exploration of challenging postures have all been explored. This includes high oxygen-demand postures, as well as mentally challenging balance postures.
With a little strategy based on the time of day, your clients will benefit physically, mentally and emotionally from their experience and precious time spent in your class. These yoga poses for energetic mornings and peaceful evenings are sure to be a hit with your wellness-seeking guests.
For morning classes, poses that open the chest are a must, as they’re naturally uplifting and quickly increase energy flow. Guide your clients to think of it as showing their hearts to the sun and asking to share in its abundant, empowering energy.
On a physiological level, moving into heart-exposing poses releases chronically tight muscles in the front of the body, particularly the pectoral muscles and anterior deltoids, and also sometimes the hip flexors and quads when the legs are involved. Neurologically, stretching these chronically tight muscle groups in the front of the body releases endorphins and dopamine, two of your “happy hormones,” thus creating an energizing effect in terms of mood.
Stretches that open the front of the body create a sense of vulnerability that increases our demand for oxygen, and our heart rate as a result. This heightened cardiovascular response marks a shift in the energy systems in the body and is therefore just as immediately energizing as 50 jumping jacks or walking up several flights of stairs.
Emotionally, that heightened heart rate and purposeful vulnerability while stretching gives us the opportunity to let down our defenses and reframe our brain in the moment. By focusing on breathing mindfully, while moving through vulnerable heart-opening postures, we not only get our bodies to respond to vulnerability with calm in the moment, but we also train our brains to do this throughout our lives all day, every day. With that in mind, here are three of my favorite energizing postures.
Andrea Marcellus (@andrea_marcellus) is the founder and CEO of her lifestyle brand, a fitness expert and life strategist who has guided clients in New York and Los Angeles for 25 years. Marcellus is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer and received her Advanced Pilates Certification from IPC, Ivon Dahl. Author of The Way In: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong and Lift Your Life, she holds numerous certifications including the original Johnny G. Spinning, TRX, CrossCore Training, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) Step and Group Fitness, and RIPP Training.