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Better Than Your Alarm Clock: Wake Up Refreshed with These Yoga Poses

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  • Post last modified:September 25, 2023

The Optimal Morning Yoga Poses to Invigorate You

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Not a morning individual? Set aside that second (or third) mug of coffee and grab your yoga mat instead.

“Yoga serves as a completely natural wake-up call,” says Paige Willis, yoga trainer and creator of Undone. “It enhances circulation, blood circulation, and elimination within your body. Additionally, it introduces a flow of fresh oxygen to your mind, supplying mental clarity, and your body, promoting the release of tension.” Morning yoga poses can also alleviate muscle stiffness and loosen up any stiffness that formed overnight, she adds.

If you desire a gentle start to your day, consider concentrating on yoga poses that involve backward bends and rotations, recommends Willis. “Both of them boost blood circulation and eliminate stagnant energy within your body,” she clarifies. “Backward bends assist in opening up the front of your body and establishing equilibrium in your spine, while rotations play a supporting role in enhancing your digestive system.”

And the good news is: you don’t have to dedicate hours to these morning yoga stretches. “You don’t have to practice for a full hour to enjoy the benefits of yoga in the morning,” says Willis. “A brief 10 to 15-minute yoga session each day — or even 30 minutes here and there throughout the week — is just as beneficial. However, consistency is crucial.”

How to Perform These Morning Yoga Poses: After warming up with breathwork to activate your deep core muscles, spend around 15 minutes flowing through these morning yoga stretches (crafted and demonstrated by Kimberly Fowler and Heidi Kristoffer). Remember, your body is still awakening, so take pauses and modify as required, suggests Willis.

If you want to continue cultivating a consistent yoga practice, consider incorporating this 15-minute yoga flow for improved sleep into your nighttime routine.

Simple Seated Rotation

“Yoga poses that incorporate rotations offer tremendous benefits in the morning because they support your digestion,” says Willis. The simple seated rotation, also known as Bharadvajasana, stimulates digestion and more: it lengthens and opens up your spine, back, hips, shoulders, and chest, serving as a remedy for back pain as well.

A. Begin in a seated position with your arms relaxed at each side.

B. Lower your left hand to the floor and place it behind your sacrum. Rest your right hand on your left knee.

C. Inhale and elongate your spine. On the exhale, use your hands to twist your torso to the left.

Wait for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Change sides; repeat.

Pose of the Camel

Pose of the Camel is a heart opener — it physically expands your chest, increases lung capacity, and allows you to inhale a little deeper.

A. Begin in a elevated kneeling position with hips over knees so weight is supported by shins and the tops of feet.

B. Tuck toes and place palms on sacrum (fingers face up or down, whichever feels better). Draw elbows toward one another to avoid winging out.

C. Maintain thighs rotating inward and pull shoulder blades toward one another. Look to the ceiling as chest lifts upward.

D. Release hands to heels and arch spine. Tip head back to maintain the whole spine in extension (skip this step if you have neck pain).

Wait for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Feline-Cow

“[Feline-cow] makes it into almost every class I teach,” says Willis. “It’s a go-to, particularly in the morning, and it can be done from a seated position, which makes it easier to do from bed,” if you’re so inclined. Feline-cow stretches your back, torso, and neck. Consider this morning yoga pose as a gentle massage for your spine.

A. Commence on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.

B. Inhale and look up with an arched spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow.

C. On an exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round spine like an angry cat.

Repeat for 5 complete breath cycles (inhale and exhale).

Pose of the Dancer

Talk about a great way to open up in the morning: Pose of the Dancer is one of the best morning stretches to add to your routine if you want to feel lighter, happier, and more open.

A. From standing, shift weight onto right leg. Bend left knee and grab the inside of left ankle with left hand.

B. Gently lift left leg and press ankle into hand to open back. Reach right arm straight up.

Wait for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Change sides; repeat.

Twisted Pose of the Chair

Twisted pose of the chair helps increase circulation by not only using every muscle in your body but also twisting, which wakes up your internal organs and aids in digestion.

A. Stand with feet and legs together. Begin to bend knees and sink hips down and back as if sitting in a chair.

B. Bring palms together in front of chest. Rotate spine to bring right elbow to left knee. Try to keep chest lifted the whole time.

Wait for 30 to 45 seconds

  1. Switch positions; duplicate.

Locust Position

The locust position fortifies the muscles in your legs and lower back while expanding your chest and elongating your spinal column. Furthermore, it activates your core. Just like all backbends, the locust position increases energy and stimulates you—something most of us require in our morning yoga stretches.

A. Rest on your stomach with arms beside your body, palms facing upwards.

B. Elevate your head, upper body, arms, and legs off the floor. Keep your arms and legs engaged and gaze ahead or slightly upwards, depending on your flexibility.

Stay like this for 45 seconds. Release to the ground with your head turned to one side. Repeat two times.

Bow Position

Similar to the locust position, the bow position is an excellent morning yoga pose as it is a backbend that enhances energy and maintains a strong metabolism. The bow position also opens and stretches the front of your body while strengthening your back muscles.

A. Lie face down on the floor and place your hands beside your body with palms facing upwards.

B. Bend your knees and reach back with your hands to hold onto your ankles (not your feet).

C. Keeping your legs hip-width apart, raise your heels upwards and away from your body, simultaneously lifting your chest off the floor. Ensure your shoulder blades are lowered and away from your ears.

Remain in this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Release to the ground with your head turned to one side. Repeat two times.

Eagle Position

Besides developing robust leg muscles, the eagle position is a pose that will invigorate your mornings by awakening your entire body and aiding digestion.

A. Commence in a standing position and slightly bend your knees.

B. Elevate your right leg and wrap it around your standing leg, hooking your foot and ankle behind your left calf.

C. Descend your hips down and back as if you’re sitting on a chair. Cross your arms at the elbows and wrists in front of your chest.

Stay like this for 30 to 45 seconds. Unwind your arms and legs to stand. Switch sides and repeat.

Crescent Lunge Position

The crescent lunge raises your heart rate, which can be crucial in kickstarting your metabolism in the morning. Additionally, it strengthens your legs and stretches your hips.

A. Begin in the downward dog position. Step your right foot between your hands.

B. Lower your hips into the lunge position and shift your weight onto the ball of your left foot, placing your hands on your hips.

C. Keep your left foot on the ball and raise your upper body to stand upright, ensuring your hips are squared.

D. Raise your arms and reach towards the ceiling with palms facing each other.

Stay like this for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Switch sides and repeat.

Bridge Position

Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place arms by your sides with palms facing down.

B. Press into your feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling, ensuring your thighs remain parallel.

C. Slide your arms underneath your shoulders and try to interlace your fingers. Roll your shoulder blades together and hold this position for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

D. Gradually release and lower your back to the floor, focusing on each vertebra.

Repeat this sequence two times.

Plow Pose

Plow pose is an inverted position that improves blood flow to your thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. This particular yoga stretch is beneficial in releasing endorphins and hormones throughout your body, thereby balancing your metabolic system and providing a refreshing start to your day.

A. Lie on your back and extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling.

B. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing downwards.

C. Press into your palms and lift your legs over your head. If your feet do not touch the ground behind you, place your hands on your lower back for support. If your feet do touch the ground, clasp your hands together and try to squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Shoulder Stand

Shoulder stand is another morning yoga pose that involves inversion, which enhances blood circulation. Additionally, it provides an excellent stretch for your neck and upper back.

A. Lie on your back with your arms alongside your body and your palms facing downwards.

B. Press into your hands to lift your legs over your head.

D. Bring your hands to your lower back for support, spreading your fingers wide. Walk your hands closer to your shoulders to straighten your legs as much as possible.

Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.

Fish Pose

Fish pose complements the shoulder stand pose by stretching the front of your neck. Its calming and grounding effects make it an ideal morning yoga pose.

A. Lie down on your back. Place your hands, palms facing up, under your glutes.

B. Bend your elbows and press into the floor as you simultaneously lean back.

C. Lift your chest towards the ceiling, creating an arched back. Draw your elbows towards each other while they are underneath your back.

D. Allow your head to drop back towards the floor.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Spinal Twist

Spinal twist is a simple yet effective morning yoga stretch that stimulates your digestive system, giving you the boost you need to start your day.

A. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

B.

Lie on your back and pull both knees towards your chest.

B. While holding your left knee, let your right leg extend out onto the floor.

C. Cross your bent left knee over your body while keeping both shoulder blades on the floor. Reach your right arm out towards the right side of the room, aligned with your right shoulder.

D. Rotate your head to look over your right shoulder to complete the twist.

Hold this position for 45 seconds to 1 minute, and then bring both knees back into your chest. Switch sides and repeat the entire sequence.

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