Morning Wake-Up

It's often hard to find the inspiration to get out of your nice, comfortable bed when you're still so tired. But according to Kundalini yoga, a built-in supply of energy lies dormant at the root of the spine, like a bulb that rests underground, waiting for a cue to bloom. By accessing this vitality, you'll have the charge you need to fire up your day -- without having to resort to a double latte.

"When you awaken your Kundalini energy and get it flowing up your spine," says Maya Fiennes, a London yoga teacher and star of the DVD "Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress," "you become alert and uplifted instead of sluggish and stressed." We worked with Fiennes to develop this series of simple moves that stretch and strengthen the spine, increase vitality, reduce tension, release impurities, and improve focus -- everything you need to face what lies ahead.

Camel Ride (pictured)
The lower spine.

What It Does
Releases lower-back tension, opens the hips, stimulates the digestive and immune systems, and promotes mental focus. "When you flex the spine," says Fiennes, "you flex the mind."

How to Do It
Sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands resting on your ankles. Bring your ribs and chest forward, gently arching your back, as you inhale. Then move the rib cage backward and round your lower spine as you exhale. Keep your neck relaxed and your chin parallel to the ground. Continue doing this exercise in unison with your breath for about two minutes.

Sufi's Circle
The middle spine.

What It Does
Creates more space in the torso and encourages the lungs to expand; further stimulates digestion; soothes the nervous system. "The spiral is a familiar pattern in nature," says Fiennes. "It's very calming to move this way."

How to Do It
Inhale and rotate your ribs forward and to the right, then exhale as you continue back and to the left, drawing a big circle with your chin and rib cage. Your spine will arch slightly and then round throughout the exercise. Rest your hands on your knees, using them for leverage. After two minutes, reverse and repeat for two more minutes.

Spinal Twist
The upper spine.

What It Does
Promotes detoxification; stimulates the lymphatic system; encourages energy to flow throughout the spine.

How to Do It
Sit with your hands on your shoulders, elbows parallel to the ground, and shoulders relaxed. As you inhale, twist your torso, shoulders, and head to the right. Exhale and twist to the left. Alternate between the right and left sides, gradually increasing your pace. After a minute, make the "okay" symbol with your fingers and begin to slowly straighten your arms with each twist until they are straight above your head. To finish, bring your hands into a prayer position and feel the energy coursing along your spine.

Text by Kate Hanley

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