We are thrilled to welcome our first guest blogger, Cheryl of Cheryl Yoga. Visit Cheryl's website for her pick of the latest yoga and health news, views, tips and details of upcoming classes and workshops.

Yoga is a great way to start your day off right.  A little gentle movement can awaken your entire system and leave you with a fresh and lasting energy.  Yoga poses are a great physical exercise for your body but they provide so much more.  These 5 poses will warm up and awaken a different part of the body giving you an all round energising effect and leave you feeling more connected with yourself and ready to take on the day's challenges.

1. Cat-Cow

After a night of sleep this is a great pose to warm up the spine.  The rolling action gently massages the spine creating small movements between each vertebrae and stretches the front and back of the torso and the neck.

Come to all fours placing your hands under your shoulders and spread your fingers wide.  Set your knees under your hips, so thighs are vertical to the floor.  Inhale and simultaneously allow your belly to sink towards the floor, press your chest forwards and lift the sit bones upwards.  Lift your head so your chin is level with the floor and take your shoulders back away from your ears.  Exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling, draw the tailbone in towards the pubic bone, release the head to look inwards.  Carry out a few rounds like this synchronising the movement with your breath.

2. Parsva Balasana

This pose is great for stretching the sides of the torso, the shoulders and arms and will leave you feeling calm and refreshed.

 Come to kneeling with big toes touching and knees in line with your hip joints.  Exhale and fold your torso over your thighs, reaching your hands forward.  Press your hand evenly down into the floor and roll your shoulders back away from your ears.  Rotate and firm the upper arms outwards.  Inhale and walk your hands towards the right, taking your torso over your right thigh.  Reach forwards with your arms fully stretched as you press both sit bones evenly towards your heels.  Breathe into the stretch along the left side of your body.  Walk hands back to centre and repeat on the other side.

3.  Ardha Matysyendrasana

Twisting poses energize the spine and can relieve lower backache.  They also open the shoulders, chest and lungs allowing you to take in more oxygen to the body.  The twisting action gives a gentle squeeze to the abdominal organs providing an internal massage which can improve digestion and help rid the body of toxins as a fresh blood supply is flushed into the area following release of the twist.

 Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip and rest your leg on the floor. Step your right foot over your left leg and press the sole of your foot into the floor. Inhale and lengthen your spine upwards as you press your sit bones into the floor. Exhale and twist towards the right bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and the right fingertips a few inches behind your buttocks. On each inhalation continue to lengthen your spine upwards and on each exhalation twist a little further towards the right. Release the pose gently to come back to centre and repeat on the other side.



4. Warrior 1 (high lunge variation)

There is nothing better than a warrior pose to set you off on your day ready to battle any challenges you may face. This pose will get the blood pumping around your entire body as your heart rate increases. It also tones the leg muscles, develops stamina and can improve your balance and concentration.

Stand with your feet hip width apart and hands on your hips. Step your left leg back a legs distance and extend out actively through the heel. Bend your right knee towards a right angle, centring your knee over your ankle. Squeeze your thighs inwards for stability and level your hips by drawing your right hip down and back and your left hip up and forwards. Inhale and raise your arms over head with your palms facing each other, shoulder width apart. Broaden across your collar bones as you firm your shoulder blades down the back. Level your chin with the floor and gaze at a point in front of you. Use the strength of your legs to extend up equally through both sides of your torso. Exhale and lower your arms down and place your hands back on your hips. Push back with your left leg to come back to standing and repeat on the other side.

5. Uttanasana

This is a great pose to finish on. The bending forwards action places your head below your heart bringing a fresh blood supply to the brain which refreshes the mind and increases energy levels. By clasping the fingers behind your back you are opening up the shoulders and creating more space in the chest area countering the tendency to hunch forward which is common for those of you that sit at desks for a large proportion of the day.

 Stand with your feet hip width apart and clasp your fingers behind you. Take the tops of your shoulders back away from the ears as you widen across the collar bones and extend the arms. Bend your knees slightly and fold forwards from the hip joints. Press your heels firmly into the floor, lift your sitting bones up and take your arms up as high as you can. Roll the inner thighs inwards to protect the lower back. On each inhalation lift and lengthen the front of your torso and on each exhalation release a little more into the forward bend. Inhale to come back up to standing and repeat changing the clasp of your fingers.

Remember always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise and only do what feels right for you. Your muscles and joints may be tight and stiff from a night of sleep, so go easy and listen to what your body saying.

Enjoy x

Cheryl's favourites

Favourite book - This is a tough question as I have so many, but today I will go with Shantram by Gregory David Roberts

Favourite Motto - 'Be Happy'

Favourite Website - Yoga Glo- amazing for those times I can't get to yoga class and don't feel like doing my own practice.

Favourite Hidden Gem - The Talbot pub near my flat...amazing food, friendly people and they even allow little Alfie (my dog) in the restaurant section, so long as he's good and sits under the table.

Favourite Time of Day - early mornings when nobody is up yet, it is so peaceful.

Favourite Easy Dish - cous cous with mixed vegetables topped with tenderstem broccoli and salmon.