Including some stretching in your daily morning routine can help energize you for the day. That could mean you can skip that coffee until mid-morning, when you might need it more.
It can also help you go into the day with higher levels of confidence. This sequence can take less than 10 minutes, or longer if you want to stay in poses for a few breaths longer or repeat the whole sequence a few times.
It can really make a difference in how both your body and your mind start the day. These stretches do not cause pain, you just need patience and repetition for results.
This restorative pose is great for gently stretching out your hips, pelvis, thighs, and spine, all of which can be a bit tight in the morning. It can feel great if you’ve slept a little “wrong” or twisted up. It also calms the brain and relieves stress and fatigue, so it can be helpful for starting the day off on the right foot.
Equipment needed: For all these poses, a yoga mat is good. If you don’t have a yoga mat, you should be on a carpet or stable rug (you won’t slip on the wood!) to cushion your knees.
Muscles worked: This lengthens your gluteus maximus, piriformis, other rotators, hamstrings, spinal extensors, and more.
These two poses done together can increase the circulation of your spinal fluid. This will help lubricate the spine, stretch your back and torso, and gently massage the organs in the abdominal area. All of these are good to help you wake up and go into the rest of your day.
Muscles worked: This moves your spine, releasing tension in it, and your arm, abdominal, and back muscles.
Push up from Child’s Pose into all fours, the top of your feet flat, shoulders directly over your wrists, and hips directly over your knees.
As you inhale, drop your belly, letting your back arch but keeping your shoulders rolled back and down.
Look slightly upward toward the ceiling. As you exhale, press into your hands the ground and round your upper back. Continue moving, arching on your inhales and rounding on your exhales, repeating this for 5 breaths.
This pose is great for the morning because it’s a mild inversion. It resets your nervous system, calms the brain, and energizes the body.
It can also be therapeutic for sciatica and relieve fatigue. If you have back problems that impact your sleep and leave you achy and tired, this pose is especially for you. Consider doing it for twice as long as suggested below or returning to it between other poses in this sequence for three breaths each time.
Muscles worked: This pose actively works your arms, shoulders, wrists, and core, while it stretches your hamstrings, spine, and calves. A lot of your body is either working or stretching here.
From all fours, push into your hands, straightening your arms as you raise your hips and straighten your legs. As you exhale, press into your hands and roll your shoulders down and back, moving your shoulder blades down your back and your shoulders away from your ears.
This pose opens up your side body and your hips, and quiets the mind while developing confidence. It’s not a bad addition to a morning practice.
Muscles worked: This pose stretches the side body, hamstrings, and hip flexors while strengthening your arms.
In Downward Dog, be sure you are grounding fully and evenly pressing into both hands, and take a deep inhale, lifting your right leg as you do.
When your leg is as high as you can comfortably get it while keeping your hips level with the ground, exhale and let your right leg bent, with your heel moving toward your butt, and then turn so that you can open the right side of your body.
Straighten the right leg as you square your hips back toward the mat, and gently return it to the ground as you exhale. Switch sides.
This standing pose is what is known as a “power pose.” It can increase confidence, flexibility in your hips, focus, and it energizes the whole body.
Muscles worked: Warrior I strengthens your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and ankles. It opens your hips, chests, and lungs, and increases circulation.
Beginning in Downward Dog, lift your right foot and bend your knee in
toward your nose. Plant your right foot between your hands or, if needed, behind your right hand.
If you can’t get your foot as close to your hand as you’d like, simply set it down, grab your ankle with one hand, and help move it forward. Or you can rise to stand and inch it. Once your right foot is planted, rise to standing as you inhale deeply. Right now, both feet should still be toes pointing toward the top of your mat.
If your foot didn’t go as far forward as you’d like for this pose, inch it forward now. When your stance feels stable, pivot your heel to the ground, so your back foot is flat on the ground and at about a 45-degree angle. Your heels should align if you were to draw a line from one to the other.
Your back leg is straight and your front leg bent, knee over ankle. As you sink your hips a little bit more, deepen the stretch, inhale and lift your arms over your head, palms facing each other but still parallel, at shoulder width.
When you’re ready, you can go back into Downward-Facing Dog to switch legs. Or you can lift your left heel, making your feet parallel again, then step forward with your left, take a deep breath and as you exhale, step your right foot back to be the back foot.
6. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This pose always seems simple, but it can do a lot for your posture, your confidence, and the rest of your yoga practice if you do it right.
Muscles worked: Mountain pose works an assortment of muscles in your torso, legs, core, and arms. Even the arches of your feet should be engaged here.
This pose calms the brain, relieves stress, fatigue, and anxiety, and stimulates the kidneys, liver, and digestion. It also feels kind of like you’re giving yourself a hug, which is never a bad thing.
Muscles worked: Uttanasana works your spinal muscles, your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and piriformis.
Everyone has their morning routine: meditation, coffee, hot water with lemon, breakfast and a workout, etc.
But if you do this every morning you will see the results of a happy life, no pain, plus, you'll stimulate your organs, your brain, your muscles, and your focus.