Try This Routine for Your Next Yoga Morning Flow
Rise and shine, yogis! It’s is time to wake up, roll out of bed, and unroll your yoga mat. A morning yoga flow is the perfect way to awaken your mind and body to start your day.
There is no reason to shell out thousands of dollars on fancy yoga retreats to reap the benefits of yoga. No, even five to 10 minutes of morning yoga can help you wake up your body and mind to face the day.
Why Should We do Yoga?
Yoga is great for decreased stress, improved focus and mood, better sleep, stronger bones, and even more muscle strength. Yoga also combats inflammation, according to a recent review of 15 studies. And we know inflammation is associated with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Plus, yoga may help you perform better at work. In a recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 61 professionals did five hours of yoga, meditation, and lectures for five days. Following the study, the participants had significant improvements in psychological and occupational well-being compared to professionals, not in the program.
Is It Good to Do Yoga in the Morning?
Yoga time is all the time, there is no “wrong” time for yoga.
On that note, “a morning yoga routine can serve as a perfect way to gradually warm and awaken the mind and body after a restful night’s sleep, preparing you for whatever the day might have in store,” says Jessica Matthews, DBH, E-RYT500, award-winning yoga educator and author of Stretching to Stay Young.
Which Yoga Is Best for Morning?
There are many different types of yoga, and each style may appeal to different people. When it comes to morning yoga stretches, though, we recommend vinyasa yoga. This type of yoga links breath with movement and allows you to create a “flow” as you move from one pose to the next, Matthews explains.
“Much like a warm-up at the start of a workout, this type of dynamic yoga practice energizes the mind and body, gradually preparing the body as an integrated unit by utilizing exploratory movements and foundational postures linked with the natural rhythm of the breath to establish optimal joint stability and mobility,” Matthews says. “Practicing asana dynamically and in an intelligently sequenced manner gradually raises the body’s internal temperature and enhances neuromuscular efficiency, helping to develop more effective, pain-free movement patterns and improved body awareness.”
Morning Yoga Routine
This 10-minute morning yoga sequence developed by Matthews below begins with a moving breath exercise called Bellow’s Breath. “Sometimes referred to as ‘yogic coffee’, this energizing breathing technique increases mental activation and alertness,” Matthews says. Go at your own pace throughout this sequence, following your breath.
1. Bellow’s Breath (Bhastrika) with Overhead Reach
- Assume a comfortable seated position of your choosing, such as easy seated pose (sukhasana). Bend your elbows at shoulder height. Align your elbows with your shoulders. Stack loose fists over your wrists.
- Maintain the length of your spine, and take two-to-three deep, diaphragmatic breaths through your nose.
- On the next inhalation, inhale through the nose while extending your arms overhead, outstretching your fingers.
- On the exhalation, breathe out your nose, bending your elbows to lower your arms back to the starting position.
- Repeat for even breath cycles (one inhale, and one exhale counts as one cycle).
- Rest with your hands on your thighs. Turn your palms up to receive the energy around you.
2. Bridge Pose
- Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Track your knees over your ankles. Separate your feet hip-distance apart. Reach your arms long toward your toes.
- Inhale to lift the hips toward the ceiling. Keep your hips lifted and touch your head, neck, and shoulders to your mat. (Avoid gazing right or left to protect your neck).
- Exhale, slowly lower to the starting position.
3. Cow/Cat Pose
- Come to all fours. Stack your shoulders above your wrists and your hips over your knees. Neutralize your spine, draw your abs toward your spine.
- Inhale for cow pose, compress your hips and shoulders toward one another. Open up your chest and drop your head back between your shoulder blades.
- Exhale for cat pose, round your spine and draw your hips toward your chest. Pull your chin into your throat.
- Repeat the motions to warm-up your spine.
4. Crescent Lunge Variations
- From all fours, step your right leg forward between your palms, and extend your left foot long behind you.
- Inhale, sweep your arms above your head with your biceps by your ears. Sink your hips down low. Drop to your back knee.
- Exhale, release your right arm alongside your body, and reach your left fingertips over your head. Push your hips forward to deepen the stretch in your hip-flexors, while you stretch your left side.
- Come back through the center and return to all fours.
- Switch sides, repeating with the left foot forward and right arm reaching up and overhead.
5. Child’s Pose with a Twist
- From tabletop. Place your big toes to touch and open your knees hip-distance apart. Sink your hips toward your heels, draw your belly down to the mat, and reach your arms forward (option to wrap your hands around your heels).
- Inhale, lift your right arm away from the mat. Exhale, thread your arm underneath your left arm to twist your torso and stretch your right shoulder.
- On the next inhalation, unthread your right arm.
- Exhale to repeat the movements on the second side to stretch on the left.
- Return to child’s pose with both arms extended.
- Repeat the movements for your desired number of reps.
6. Plank to Downward Facing Dog
- Return to all fours.
- Assume a plank position, place your shoulders vertically over your wrists, lengthen your spine, and straighten your legs behind you.
- Pike your hips toward the ceiling, and drop your heels toward the mat (it’s ok if your heels do not touch the floor). Make a pyramid shape with your body.
- Straighten your arms and send your chest toward your thighs.
- Option to transition between downward-facing dog and plank pose to warm up your shoulders.
7. Star Pose to Goddess Pose
- From downward-facing dog, walk your feet to your hands. Slowly rise to a standing position, uncurling your spine until your shoulders stack over your hips.
- Step your feet three-to-four feet apart in a wide split-leg stance. Turn your heels in and your toes out.
- Inhale, and extend your arms overhead in a V-shape. Keep your arms wider than shoulder-width and turn your palms forward. Spread your fingers wide.
- Exhale, lower into a deep squat position. Bend your knees and align them with your shins. As you squat, bend your arms and draw your elbows toward your ribs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while maintaining length in your spine.
- Continue this rhythm breath-to-movement. With each inhalation, straighten your hips, knees, and elbows. With each exhalation, bend your hips, knees, elbows, and draw the shoulder blades together.