Most of us start our mornings the same way: we get up, we lumber our way to the kitchen like a sleep-deprived zombie, and then mindlessly get to work preparing a pot of coffee. What if there was a better way to awaken your senses in the morning? The good news is, there is a far more effective way. You might already be doing it three times a week in the afternoon, but you should be doing it every morning. It gets the blood pumping, the muscles stretched, and the mind bright and awake by the time you’re done. An energizing morning yoga practice can work as a natural stimulant to set you up for a productive day. A yoga session will help warm up the body and bring you from repose to refresh. Many of us sleep with the spine and hips rounded in fetal position, which is calming and introspective for rest and contemplation. In contrast, backbends stretch and extend the spine and hips and bring an energetic openness to the body, preparing you for action. Take 10, 20, or 30 minutes every morning to practice, and you’ll start your day wide-awake and full of life.
Here are a few poses that are greatmorning-starters:
Come onto your hands and knees, stacking yourshoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Begin to move yourspine in a rhythmic motion: With every inhalation, arch your back and lift yoursitting bones and chest into Cow; with every exhalation, round your back andtuck your chin and pelvis into Cat.
Warrior One is a standing position thatsignifies and stimulates strength and power. Start by standing up straight, andthen step your left leg back 3 and a half to 4 feet. Bend your right knee soit’s directly above the ankle, and turn your left foot in slightly. Raise yourarms directly above you, reaching strongly, and look up. This yoga posestretches the back and the lower body. It can be strenuous on the arms, whichare held high in the air. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, then repeat,reversing leg positions.
Warrior Two is similar to Warrior One, but thearms are held out to the side with the head looking forward, and the back footis at a 90-degree angle instead of turned in slightly.
Extended Side Angle Pose
This is another standing yoga position, which improvesstrength, flexibility, and posture. This pose is particularly good to stretchthe side of your body and strengthen your legs. In this pose, the legs arespread as in Warrior Two, but the torso is turned sideways with one armpointing to the ceiling and the head looking upward. When your right knee isbent, you’ll have your right palm planted on the ground outside the knee, andyour left arm reaching up so there’s a straight line from your left foot allthe way up the side to your left arm. Hold for about a minute and then repeaton the other side.
This is a standing yoga pose that helps tocultivate balance and strengthen your legs. To get into Tree Pose, standstraight and then shift your weight to the right foot, bringing the sole of yourleft foot up to your right inner thigh. If you can’t balance with the foot onthe thigh, try placing your foot on the calf instead — just avoid putting yourfoot on the knee. The hands are held together in a prayer position over thechest. This yoga position requires balance and concentrates the mind. Try tohold this pose for a minute or two and then switch to the other leg.
If you have ever seen a dog stretch, you knowhow Downward Dog got its name. It’s a standard yoga pose, though not all beginnersare able to do it. For this position, start on your hands and knees, with yourknees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of yourshoulders. Press back, lifting your knees away from the floor while keepingyour arms straight, and lift your tailbone up. Stretch your heels toward thefloor to lengthen your hamstrings. This yoga pose opens up the back of the bodyand is very energizing. It should be held for about 30 seconds to one minute.
Un-flip from Downward Dog and roll your heelsto the right. Shift your weight into your right hand and the outer edge of yourright foot. Stack your left foot on top of your right. Fire up your thighmuscles; press your feet and hand down as you lift your hips. Extend your leftarm to the ceiling. (If this is too intense, you can lower your bottom knee tothe floor.) Return to Downward Dog and repeat on the left.
High Crescent Lunge
From Downward Dog, step your left foot betweenyour hands. Fire up your back leg and soften your pelvis toward the floor,stretching your back hip flexor. Lift the sides of your waist, then lift thefront of your pelvis as your tailbone descends. Bring your arms alongside yourears and gaze up. Exhaling, release and switch sides.
From Downward Dog, walk or jump forward andcome to sit. Recline on your back and bend your knees with ankles directlyunder knees. Press the four corners of each foot down and lift your hips ashigh as you can. Clasp your hands together and press your upper arms down asyou lift your chest.
Half moon pose
This one is easy and is fantastic to do firstthing in the morning since it mimics the body’s natural desire to stretch afterwaking up. Start with your feet together, back straight, and hands interlockedstraight above your head. Inhale deeply, then bend either left or right whilekeeping your shoulders straight ahead and your hips popping in the oppositedirection. Repeat three to five times on either side.