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Do you ever feel sore and sluggish in the morning? Maybe low-energy, or just groggy?
Hopping on your mat and practicing yoga in the morning is an excellent way to start your day.
Yoga gives you energy, loosens your muscles, jump starts your metabolism, and lengthens your spine.
There are plenty of easy poses and routines to start your day, and infinite combinations of them to try. How do you know what’s best for you?
I am a 200 hour licensed RYT, I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years, taught to adults for several years, and I now have been teaching yoga to kids in schools for 4 years. I have gone through plenty of routines and sequences, and this one below is my favorite for right away in the morning.
My morning routine is simple enough to do as a beginner or a seasoned yogi, and can be more vigorous if you do it at a faster pace!
This sequence focuses on lengthening the spine and loosening up key muscles. The balances and plank also help fire up your core, which is a great way to start the day.
Do each pose for 4-5 breaths the first time or two you do the sequence, then go more quickly, trying for 1 inhale and then 1 exhale per pose.
· Janu sirsasana —seated head to knee
I always start this pose on one side and just gently stretch. Bring one leg in and flex your opposite foot. Rotate your torso towards your straight leg, and lean gently forward, keeping your foot flexed. After 4-5 breaths, rotate your torso back towards your bent knee and then stretch your side body by reaching your opposite arm up and over towards your straighten leg.
Do a few bicep curls if you have your weights handy. Add in some triceps lifts too if you want.
Before switching legs, I always go into a gentle camatkarasana variation (the wild thing pose with the knee down). Place a hand behind your hip (opposite hand of your straightened leg). Gently lift your hips, rocking forward onto your knee.
· Ardha Pincha Mayurasana—Low plank to dolphin
This is the one you want to do to fire up your core, plus it stretches out your hamstrings a bit more. Start in low plank, hands clasped, and keep your shoulders pressing away from your ears. Squeeze your butt, rotate your inner thighs in and up, and press your heels away from your hips. Lift your core up and in, and press your hips up and back into dolphin pose. Do this as many times as you can in good form.
· Bhujangasana—Low cobra
Lay on your stomach. Squeeze your legs together, press your feet into the floor and tighten your butt to lift your knees slightly off the floor. Press LIGHTLY into your hands, squeeze your shoulders together and look forward, keeping your chest lifted off the floor as much as possible. Use your upper back to lift up more and open your chest.
Press up through plank, using your core, then shift your hips up and back.
· Adho Mukha Svanasana—Downward facing dog
Start slowly in down dog: lengthen your back by keeping your head between your arms and tilting your pelvis up and back towards the room behind you. Keep your fingers spread wide, and rotate your elbow pits to face the room in front of you, strengthening your biceps. Bend your knees gently and slowly, one at a time to loosen your hips or together to strengthen your quads. Come up onto your toes, tilt your pelvis forward and back a few times, then slowly lower your heels back down to stretch your hamstrings.
· Uttanasana—Forward Fold
Walk your hands and feet together slowly, bending your knees a lot, then hang in forward fold. Stretch your back more by keeping your knees really bent. Let your arms hang down or grasp your elbows, sway gently side to side and loosen your neck by gently shaking your head yes and no a few times.
· Tadasana—Standing Mountain
Release your hands towards the earth if you were holding your elbows. Slowly, keeping your knees bent, rise up while keeping your head hanging heavy. Stretch your arms out to the side and then reach all the way up, pulling in your core so you don’t sway your back.
· Indudalasana—Standing Crescent Moon
Keeping your core pulled in tight, clasp your hands above your head, keeping your shoulders down as much as possible. Reach your torso up and over to the side, keeping your hips level. Breathe in and out a few times, then go back to the center, and then over to the other side.
· Waterfall-Gentle Backward Bend
Still activating your core gently release your grasp, hooking just your thumbs together, and reach up and back for a mini standing backbend. Release your hands down to your sides slowly and take a few more slow breaths.
· High crescent lunge
Raise your arms up high, facing your palms towards each other. Bend your knees and step one foot back as far as you can, keeping your heel lifted off the ground and your hips facing forward. Keep your front leg bent as close to 90 degrees as you can, stacking your knee over your ankle. Stretch your back leg straight, lifting at the back of the knee. Keep your pelvis tucked under by engaging your core.
· Virabhadrasana II—Warrior Two
Lower your arms to shoulder height, one reaching forward and the other towards the back of your mat. Rotate your hips open to the side and lower your heel. Keep your back toes pointing up toward the front corner of your mat, pressing the whole foot in firmly to engage your leg. Your front knee should still be bent almost at 90 degrees, and you want to keep your leg pressing slightly towards the outside edge of your mat. Look down and make sure you can see your big toe. Flip your palms up to the ceiling and back down again slowly a few times to really engage all the muscles.
Straighten your front leg slowly, (I usually add a few up and down at first to give my quad a little extra work out), then reach your front arm forward, bringing your torso as far forward as you can, using your abs to keep your stable, then gently “tick-tock” your arms so they are perpendicular to the ground. Look down at your mat or up to the ceiling. You can gently rest your hand on your leg, shin or a block but not your knee. Also, be careful not to collapse forward. You want to lengthen both sides of your torso and keep your core working. Reach your head forward and away from your hips, keep your torso stacked over your legs as much as you can, as if you are being squished between two panes of glass.
· Ashwa Sanchalasana—Low Lunge
“Windmill” your arms down to your mat, framing your front foot with your hands to a low lunge. If you need to, shimmy your foot slightly out to the side to make more space for your torso, and bend your back leg slightly. Work towards keeping your front knee over your foot at 90 degrees and your back leg straight and lifted off the mat.
· High Plank
Using your core, bring your front foot back to meet your back. Lengthen your spine by keeping your shoulders pressing away from your ears, align your neck by keeping the back of your head lifted. Rotate your elbow pits to face the room in front of you, and “micro bend” your elbows so they are not locked. This activates your arms more and keeps your joints from having too much pressure. Spread your whole hands wide, make sure your middle fingers are pointing forward (as opposed to having your hands rotated out or in). Pull your belly button in and up to take the sway out of your lower back. Squeeze your butt and rotate the inner part of your thighs up toward the ceiling. Weird, but it really helps.
Repeat from Downward facing dog all the way to high plank, using your opposite foot to step back for crescent lunge through low lunge.
After the second side, do one more downward dog, then move into:
· Balasana—Child’s Pose
Lower down to your knees, and shift your hips back to sit on your heels. Keep your arms reaching in front of you and lower your head to the mat, resting your torso on your thighs. If your head does not reach the ground, feel free to stack your fists and rest your forehead on those, or use a block. Rest in child’s pose for 5-20 breaths.
Give yourself a big hug! You just did an amazing sequence of 30 poses for a wonderful morning routine!
This routine takes me between 10-20 minutes, depending on how many breaths I take for each pose, or how tired I am.
But every day I feel refreshed and awake by the time I am done, and ready to start my day with a bang. I love it and I hope you do, too!