Admittedly I am a morning person, but just like everyone, some mornings I just struggle to get up and get moving. Since I don’t drink caffeine, on those mornings, I turn to yoga to help wake me up and give me the energy I need to go into work each day. Some mornings when I’m really dragging I end up lying in Child’s Pose on my mat for several minutes before I actually get started moving, but I eventually get there and I feel SOOO much better when I do. This yoga sequence was designed to give you energy and a natural boost in the morning, without the need to down a whole pot of coffee. This sequence can be as long or as short as you need it to be depending on how much time you spend in each pose and if you want to repeat the postures or not. For even better results, use this Yoga Sequence for a More Restful Sleep the night before to ensure you’re well rested.
Cat/Cow Poses (Marjariasana/Bitilasana)
What I love about starting with these poses, is that they’re gentle enough to do when your eyes are still half closed from exhaustion and you’re struggling to move. These poses will warm up the spine and stretch out the back after a long night of lying on a mattress. Together, they’re great for relieving stiffness and who doesn’t feel a little stiff first thing in the morning?
Begin on your hands and knees in Table Top pose. Ensure your shoulders are directly above your wrists and your hips are over your knees. On your inhale reach your head and tailbone up towards the ceiling, letting your belly fall towards the mat. Keep your shoulders softened and away from your ears, this is Cow Pose. As you exhale, tilt your pelvis under and round your spine. Draw your navel towards your spine, keep your shoulders engaged, and press into the mat with your hands, shins, and the tops of your feet. This is Cat Pose. Flow through these poses at least 5 times.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
In addition to lengthening the spine and stretching the arms, shoulders, back, legs, and feet this pose will also energize the body and mind. With the heart above the head, the body won’t have to work as hard to pump energizing blood to the brain. This pose also stimulates your nervous system which will help build focus and concentration that will be valuable throughout your busy day.
Begin in child’s pose with your arms stretched out in front of you, your hands in line with your shoulders, and your palms pressing into the mat. Keeping your hands where they are, push deeply into the mat and send your hips up and back towards the ceiling, straightening the legs. You can keep a slight micro-bend in the knees to prevent over-extending in the muscles if your legs are feeling especially tight. Imagine your body is like an upside down letter V. Push evenly into the hands, relax the shoulders and push down through the heels. Gaze at your thighs or your navel and take several deep inhales here. You can add some movement by bending one knee deeply at a time and gently shaking the head yes and no to release any tension.
Rag Doll Pose (Uttanasana II)
This is a gentle forward bend that will help stretch the backs of the legs as well as release tension in the low back and neck. It is great to help relieve any back pain that you might be experiencing. Like Downward Facing Dog, this pose brings your heart above your head which will help wake you up and energize you.
From Downward Facing Dog, step your feet forward to meet your hands coming into a Forward Fold. Add a slight micro-bend in your knees and grab opposite elbows with your hands. Let your upper body be really heavy here and relax the neck. You can gently sway from side to side, if that feels good. Remain in this pose as long as is comfortable.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
The first poses of this sequence were really relaxing and calming to slowly bring energy into your body and mind. Warrior II is a more invigorating pose that will strengthen and tone the body. It works the legs and opens the hips, but also improves balance and focus. Warrior II will improve your posture making your daily tasks a little easier.
From Mountain Pose, step your right foot back about 3 1/2 feet and turn your right toes 90 degrees. Bend the left leg bringing the knee directly over the ankle or slightly behind. Ensure that your hips and torso are facing the right, long edge of your mat. Align your left heel with the arch of your right foot. Reach both arms out on either side at shoulder height, bringing them in a straight line. Turn your head and gaze out over your left middle finger. Tuck your tailbone under and engage your abdominals. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then come into the next pose before repeating both on the other side.
Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
By combining this pose with Warrior II you create some gentle movement to help energize and wake up your body. You can flow from Warrior II to Extended Side Angle and back as many times as you wish, intending to match your inhales with your exhales. For example, exhale from Warrior II into Extended Side Angle and then inhale up into Warrior II. This pose will strengthen the ankles, knees, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles as well as stretch the hips, groin, spine, waist, chest and shoulders.
Beginning in Warrior II pose with your left leg in front and the knee bent directly over the ankle or slightly behind. Bring your left forearm to the top of your left thigh, with the palm turned up. Lift the right arm up overhead alongside your ear with your fingers pointing away from your body and the palm turned down towards the ground. Keep your chest open and lifted and gaze up towards your hand. Stay here as long as is comfortable and then flow back into Warrior II and repeat both poses on the other side.
I hope you find this sequence energizing and invigorating. I use these poses during my morning practice and they help me feel ready to take on whatever the day has in store for me.