4 Morning Yoga Poses to Start Your Day
My favorite way to start each day is by practicing a few simple, rejuvenating yoga poses to get my blood flowing & get my energy moving after a good night’s sleep. I think people can sometimes get turned off from practicing yoga first thing in the morning because of the common and understandable horror that they might actually have to work their bod before they’ve even had their morning cup of coffee. (Or, if you’re like me, your Suja Macachino!)
But not to worry – these poses are quick and easy, and they will serve you in whichever way you want them to. If you are looking for a tranquil morning meditation with a bit of body movement to slowly wake up, these are your go-tos. If you need something a little more rigorous in order to get your energy in check for the day, feel free to move through these poses in a flow format until you start to work up some heat in your body.
I like to do both. Some days I wake up needing a light and easy practice and other days my body is ready for more. It also depends on what the rest of my day looks like. If I am going to be on camera all day, I know I need to get my body moving and stretched out so I can be on my A game. If I’m going to spend the first few hours in front of the computer, a nice & simple stretch will usually get the job done.
That’s the beauty of a morning yoga practice, or an anytime yoga practice. It’s all about YOU. What do you need in order to start your day off in the happiest, healthiest way?
Here are some morning yoga poses to get you started:
Child’s Pose, Balasana
Child’s Pose is a great starting pose, especially after just waking up. It stretches the quads and opens your upper back, and you can choose whether you want to relax your neck, shoulders and head or to firm the biceps and make this a more active pose.
To get into Child’s Pose, kneel on the floor touching your big toes together. Sit on your heels and separate your knees as wide as your hips. On an exhale breath, lay your torso down between your thighs. Your arms can be stretched forward in front of you, palms down, or alongside your torso if that feels more comfortable. Broaden your sacrum and narrow your hip points down. Take 10 deep breaths here. To make the pose more active, firm the biceps and stretch your arms forward, pressing your palms into the floor. For a more passive pose, relax your limbs. Feel the stretch across your back and enjoy this deep yet restful forward bend.
Downward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana
Call me crazy, but nothing feels as good as a downward dog first thing in the morning! I love hearing that crack-crack noise as I peddle out my legs and rotate my thighs up toward the sky. It also feels amazing across the upper back if you are a tossing-turning kind of sleeper like I am. Let your head and neck go for the ultimate relaxation in this semi-active pose.
To get into downward dog, come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands about two inches in front of your shoulders. Spread your palms, and begin to press back into the pose by pushing through your arms and lengthening through the backs of your legs. Bend your knees if it’s more comfortable. The goal is a straight back, not necessarily to have your heels on the floor. Keep your feet parallel to one another and spread across your shoulder blades and collarbones. Walk out your dog by peddling your legs and lifting up one leg at a time if it feels good. Hold downward facing dog for as many breaths as it feels good, and then release down into Child’s Pose. Repeat as many times as you would like.
Upward Facing Dog, Adho Mukha Svanasa
Upward Dog is a great counter-pose to downward dog. While down dog stretches the backs of your leg and lengthens the back, upward dog provides a great upper back stretch and a leg strengthener. It is a more active pose than the previous two, and it will really start to get your blood flowing after a night of rest. With better blood flow, you will be more alert, focused and in tune with your body throughout the day.
To get into upward dog, lay on your stomach with your palms facing down near your rib cage and your elbows hugging in close toward your body. The tops of your feet are pressing into the ground, and when you feel firm in your palms and the tops of your feet, push your arms straight until your weight is evenly distributed between your feet and hands. Your hips are lifted, and your collarbones are open and facing forward. You can look forward or let your neck drop for a nice back of the neck stretch. Hold this pose for 5-10 breaths and come back down to your stomach. If it feels good, press back to Child’s Pose. Repeat until you feel satisfied.
Seated Meditation Pose, Sukhasana
Sukhasana is literally translated from Sanskrit as “Easy Pose.” It is the perfect way to end your morning yoga practice, draw inward and reflect on the day ahead. If it feels better to sit on a blanket or a pillow, do so. it is important to be comfortable in this pose so you can totally zen out and get the most out of it.
To get into this seated meditation pose, simply sit cross-legged on your mat or in another seated position you find most comfortable. Elongate your spine and root your sitting bones into the ground. Sit tall, and if you would like to bring your hands to prayer do so. I like to leave them facing open to the sky in gratitude. Focus on your breath. This is your practice, so do whatever you need to do to draw inward.
Enjoy! Feel free to repeat as many times as you’d like, and even throw a few pushups in there if you really like to get your bod heated in the morning. If not, enjoy this practice as it is and feel confident that you are starting your day in a healthy, rejuvenating and introspective way. Time to go crush your day!