Not everyone is a morning person, myself included. I am guilty of setting multiple alarms, telling myself five more minutes won’t hurt, only then to feel groggy and sluggish once I do wake up. I’ve tried many different things to help myself wake up in the morning. I’ve tried taking a shower, drinking a full glass of water, and dipping my face in ice water. Nothing was working, I was still sleepy and feeling fatigued hours after arriving to work.
But after doing some more research, I found that certain yoga poses are great for helping you wake up in the morning and helping you feel more rested and rejuvenated. Part of it is also putting yourself in the right mindset, making time in the morning to do yoga correctly and not feel rushed. Here are some of the best yoga poses I have found work for me to get my day started.
1. Cat and Cow Pose
Flowing between cat pose and cow pose is a great way to wake up your spine after a long night’s rest. A night of sleep can leave your back and neck feeling immobile and restricted, and the cat-cow transition helps to bring some movement back to your body. As you move through the two poses, you can use it as an opportunity to check back in with yourself: perhaps close your eyes, and synchronize your breath to the movement.
2. Warrior II
Adding one or more of the warrior poses to your morning yoga flow is essential to wake up your body and mind and empower you for a challenging day ahead. The most accessible of these poses is Warrior II. This is a powerful pose for balance and strength, but also to help you practice your affirmation statements or to set goals for your day. It is a foundational pose of any yoga practice, and will help you feel more confident, grounded, and focused.
3. Warrior I
Warrior I challenges you to stay grounded and present and helps build power and stability in the legs, core and back. This is an excellent pose for building strength and whole self-awareness as well as getting a nice and gentle opening in your hips and back. Warrior I is a wonderful position to practice in the morning to bring your mind to focus as well as engage your body in balanced strength building.
4. Downward-Facing Dog
A great pose to incorporate into your morning practice is Downward Dog. This classic yoga pose strengthens the upper body, improves blood circulation, and brings fresh oxygen to the brain to help you wake up. The posture delivers a stretch to the back of your legs, as well as creating space along the spine and the back of the neck. You can pedal through your feet in this position to bring some movement and energy into your legs and hips.
5. Sun Salutation
Welcome the warming and energizing nature of the sun as you flow through the movements in the sun salutation sequence. This dynamic sequence is a perfect way to warm up your body, increase flexibility and strength, and leave you feeling energized for the rest of the day. Use the repetitive nature of the sun salutation to connect with your breath and clear your mind.
6. Mountain Pose
A great pose to start your morning practice with calm grounded energy is Mountain Pose. It is a meditative pose, but the standing nature of the posture means that your body is physically active. I love the challenge of using the least physical exertion possible while simultaneously trying to relax my mind. It looks easy, but it’s tough, and the benefits are wonderful. A game changer for any morning!
Yoga teachers recommend holding the hands in a prayer position to encourage a feeling of faith, acceptance, and commitment and to use the pose as an active meditation to provide a few minutes to introspect, set an intention for the day ahead, or a chance to let go of something you may have been holding onto overnight. This in turn can leave you feeling energized and prepared for the day ahead, and often with new and creative ideas to take with you into your day with momentum, ease, and grace.
7. Hero Pose
A stable basic pose to start your morning routine with is Hero Pose. This pose as it is wonderful for improving your posture and is a deep stretch for the quads, knees, and ankles, which often feel stiff and sore in the mornings. Starting your mornings in Hero’s Pose is a great pose to set intentions for the day, resting your hands on your knees, palms upturned, in a gesture of receiving what the day has in store.
8. Cobra Pose
If your day ahead requires creativity and confidence, hold Cobra Pose for several breaths. This back-bending pose compresses the kidneys and opens the chest, which is extremely invigorating for the morning.
Cobra Pose exercises and tones the deep muscles of the back that support the spinal column to support good posture. Yoga teachers say backbends have a strong impact on your hormones, secretions, and chemicals in your brain which stimulate the body and generate feelings of confidence, strong self-esteem, and willpower. An added bonus to this pose is the gentle pressure it puts on the abdomen and pelvis, which kick-starts your digestive organs into action.
9. Child’s Pose
One of the easiest poses to include in your morning practice is Child’s Pose. It is a great and highly effective way to start a yoga practice. It allows you to reconnect with your breath, as well as provides a gentle release for the lower back, lats, and hips—waking them up and preparing them for the day ahead. Child’s Pose is excellent for alleviating stress and anxiety as it helps release any build-up of tension in the back, shoulders, and chest, as well as normalizes circulation throughout the body, which is vital for our bodily functions to perform at their optimal potential.
10. Chair Pose
Lastly, fire up the quadricep muscles in Chair Pose if your day calls for clarity, balance, and groundedness. This standing pose gives a sense of grounding through the feet, and activation in the biggest muscle groups of your lower body. Chair pose is a great way to bring some energy into your morning practice! The lift up through the arms can bring a sense of openness and invitation—a great way to start your day.