Starting your day right can make all the difference to how energized and focused you are. And a good morning yoga routine will help you do just that. Here’s the perfect blend of yogic breathing exercises and poses or asanas that will set you up for a great day.
Combine Gentle Stretches, Energizing Asanas, And Deep Breathing
Your morning yoga routine should start with some gentle stretches that warm up your muscles and loosen you up, allowing for easy movement. You should then zero in on poses and breathing techniques that clear your mind, calm you, and help you focus better. A morning exercise session should also help kickstart your digestion by working the core muscles and gently massaging abdominal organs. This combination can help you be both physically and mentally prepared for anything the day throws your way!
What follows is a list of yoga exercises designed to help with exactly this. You could also try some more challenging poses if you are able to do yoga at an intermediate or advanced level.
Apanasana Or Reverse Child’s Pose For A Good Stretch
This is an exercise you can do as soon as you wake up and before you even hop out of bed. This movement helps to stretch your spine as well as shoulders. It also massages your back and abdominal organs, helping ease back pain, improving digestion, and opening up the hips.
- Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out before bending the knees into your chest. Keep your knees separated.
- Draw the knees in closer and put your arms around both legs.
- Roll to one side then the other, repeating multiple times.
Sukhasana Or Easy Pose To Calm You And Lengthen Your Spine
Transition next into the comfortable relaxation of the sukhasana. It will help lengthen and stretch your spine. Sukhasana also gives you a sense of inner calm that can prepare you for the bustle and stresses of the day ahead.1
- Just sit cross-legged so one ankle lines up in front of the other.
- Sit on the front of your sitting bones, hands resting on the knees. Ensure there is a gap between your pelvis and your feet.
- Open up your shoulders, pressing the chest forward and reaching up from your spine, relaxing the shoulders.
- Let your face relax. You should feel your tongue soften and jaw release. Inhale and exhale slowly and calmly.
Pranayam Or Yogic Breathing To Focus Your Attention
Yogic breathing techniques or pranayam can help you clear your head and bring your attention to your breathing. This helps declutter the mind and focus better. Try some of these breathing techniques before you move on to the next poses or begin your yoga routine with them.
Even Ratio Breathing: Do even ratio breathing for around 3 minutes, where you focus on inhaling for three counts and exhaling to a count of three. Gradually build up to five counts on each.
Just take care that the breathing feels comfortable and not forced or painful. To calm yourself, exhale for longer and inhale for shorter counts. Six counts of exhale to about three of inhale are a good level to build up to.2
Nadi Shodhana: Alternate nostril breathing helps to clear any blocks in energy channels in your body. In doing so, it also helps calm the mind and release any pent-up tension or stress and even fatigue.
- Sit comfortably with a relaxed gentle smile on your face.
- Alternate breathing through one nostril at a time.
- Put your left hand on your left knee with palms facing up. Use the little finger and ring finger of your right hand to keep your left nostril closed as you inhale from the right nostril.
- Next, close the right nostril with your thumb as you exhale from the left nostril.
- Now swap so you inhale from the left nostril and exhale from the right.3
Tadasana Or Mountain Pose To Focus The Mind And Galvanize Your Body
Tadasana, like yogic breathing, also focuses your mind and prepares your body for the other asanas you will do after this.
- Simply stand with feet hip-distance apart and allow the tension in your tailbone to fall away to the floor, pulling your stomach in simultaneously. Your rib cage should rise up out of the pelvis.
- Bring your shoulders back away from your ears. Let them relax.
- Reach to the ceiling with the crown of your head, feeling the spine lengthen and stretch up.
- Breathe deeply, keeping your chin parallel to the ground through the pose.
- Hold for a minute.4
You could also follow up with the mountain side-bending pose.
- Begin in tadasana and then inhale as you lift your arms overhead, allowing the fingers to interlink.
- With your fingers still interlaced, turn your palms up skyward.
- Reach a little to your right so you feel the other side of your body lengthen as you bend.
- Take care not to lose your balance – your feet must be firmly rooted even as you reach skyward.
- Take five breaths before exiting the pose as you exhale. Bring your arms back down to your sides and back into tadasana.
- Repeat the sequence, this time reaching to your left.5
Chakravakasana Or Cat-Cow Pose To Boost Circulation And Aid Digestion
The cow pose offers a gentle massage to abdominal organs and the back and is a good way to warm up for your spine.6 The cat stretch helps in a similar manner, toning up your abdomen, aiding digestion, and relaxing the mind. It also boosts blood circulation.7
- You need to be down on the floor on your hands and knees for this pose.
- Line up your hips over the knees and shoulders over the wrists.
- As you inhale, arch your back and raise your sitting bones as well as chest up to take the cow pose.
- As you exhale, round your back with the chin and pelvis tucked in to be in the cat pose.8
Janu Naasika Adho Mukha Svanasana Or Knee-To-Nose Pose For A Complete Rejuvenating Stretch
You will start this with the downward facing dog, which is both calming and energizing. It stretches your hands, shoulders, arches, calves, and hamstrings. It can relieve fatigue, headaches, back pain, and insomnia and aids digestion.9 The knee-to-nose pose is a great core warm-up that can also help boost circulation to the shoulder and back muscles.10
- Get into the downward facing dog pose, with your palms and feet firmly on the ground, your knee pulled away from the ground, and your hips up in the air.
- Now, raise your right leg up, rounding the spine and bringing your knee close to your chest.
- Round your upper spine to the ceiling and let your pelvis be low.
- Pull your right thigh into your chest so your knee is close to your nose.
- Press your hands down into the floor until you are ready to go back to the downward facing dog pose.
- Repeat the sequence with your left leg.11
Kumbhakasana Or Plank Pose To Strengthen Arms And Tone The Abdomen
The plank when done correctly can be quite challenging. You could try this if you’re looking for a more rigorous or longer workout at a higher level of difficulty. It tones your abdomen and strengthens your spine as well as arms and wrists.
- Begin in the downward facing dog pose, before inhaling and bringing your torso forward so your arms are now perpendicular to the ground.
- Your torso will be parallel to the ground and shoulders should line up above the wrists.
- Your shoulder blades should be spread away from your backbone and your collarbones away from your sternum.
- The base of your skill should be lifted away from the rear of your neck and your gaze must be downward to the floor.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.12
Vasisthasana Or Side Plank Pose To Work Your Core
Build your core strength further with the side plank pose.
- From the downward dog, flip yourself sideways so you roll onto the right side, shifting your weight to your right hand and outer edge of that foot.
- Allow your left foot to stack over the right.
- Engage the thigh muscles and press your hand and foot into the ground as you raise your hips a bit.
- Bring your left arm up and reach toward the ceiling before coming back to the downward dog
- Repeat by rolling your heels to the left.
- If the arm extension feels very challenging, allow your bottom knee to touch the floor as you reach up.13
Shavasana Or Corpse Pose To Relax And Round Up Routine
End your yoga session with some time spent in the corpse pose. This pose is designed to relax you, ease anxiety, lower blood pressure, and leave you refreshed.14
- Simply lie down on your back, on a mat or comfortable surface with your arms angled at 45 degrees to your body, palms face up.
- Your shoulders must relax away from your ears.
- Focus on one part of the body at a time, slowly relaxing it one section at a time. Start with your feet and toes and end with the crown of your head.
- You may keep your eyes closed during this asana but don’t fall asleep!
|↑1||Easy pose. Yoga Journal.|
|↑2, ↑5||You can do yoga: A simple 15-minute morning routine. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑3||Nadi shodhan pranayama. The Art of Living.|
|↑4||Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑6||Cow Pose.Yoga Journal.|
|↑7||Cat Stretch. The Art of Living.|
|↑8||Cat Cows. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑9||Downward-Facing Dog. Yoga Journal.|
|↑10||Hanoch, Doron. The Yoga Lifestyle: Using the Flexitarian Method to Ease Stress, Find Balance, and Create a Healthy Life. Llewellyn Worldwide, 2016.|
|↑11||The 10-Minute Sequence to Jump-Start Your Day. Yoga Journal.|
|↑12||Plank Pose. Yoga Journal.|
|↑13||The 20 Minute Practice to Jump-Start Your Day. Yoga Journal.|
|↑14||Savasana – Corpse Pose. The Art of Living.|