Whether you need a little energy boost to start the day or want to get
your body warmed up after a night of sleep, yoga is a great pick-me-up
in the morning, says
Lisa Gorman, RN, director of worksite wellness,
St. Joseph Health. “Yoga is an excellent way to transition from sleep to wakefulness.
Plus, it gives you a moment of calm and clarity before the rush of the
If you don’t have time for a yoga class in your morning routine,
try these five moves for a bright start to your day. During all moves,
breathe evenly in and out through your nose.
Get into a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your back straight
and long (aim the crown of your head toward the wall, not the floor).
On your inhale, lift up your head and tailbone while your stomach relaxes
and drops down. On the exhale, draw your back up and round it while your
chin draws toward your chest. “These are simple poses that offer
a great way to stretch the body, especially the back, and take some deep
breaths,” Gorman says.
2. Downward Dog
This is one of the more well-known yoga poses, and one that can get the
energy flowing in the morning. Start in tabletop and on your exhale, lift
up from the hips, reaching your sits bones to the sky. Don’t worry
if your legs are not straight – the intent is to lengthen the spine,
and it is better to keep the knees slightly bent and the heels off the
floor than to strain. Spread through the shoulders, and distribute the
weight throughout your entire palm to eliminate wrist strain. Hold the
pose for a few breaths.
This basic standing pose strengthens the core and posture and is good for
balancing, Gorman says. Stand straight with your feet a little bit apart
and make sure your balance is spread equally between them. Once your feet
feel rooted to the ground, point your tailbone toward the ground while
using your thigh muscles to stretch and lengthen your legs. Envision your
spine making a straight line from the tailbone to the crown of your head.
Keep your arms at your side or in prayer position as you breathe through
the pose for up to a minute. You can also stand against a wall for support.
4. Forward Fold
“This move is nice for releasing tension and getting your legs ready
to move for the day,” Gorman says. From mountain pose, exhale and
bend at the hip hinge as you lengthen through the crown of your head,
initially maintaining a straight back. Then allow your body to surrender
over your hips. Lift through the pelvic floor, and support your body by
wrapping your arms around the back of your legs, or supporting arms on
a yoga block. Keep your head hanging toward the ground and relax the neck.
Bend your knees slightly if your legs are too stiff. Breathe in and out
through the nose as your hold the pose and relax into it with each exhalation.
When finished, press through the feet, engage the abdominal muscles and
on an inhale bring your arms up followed by your torso as you straighten
from the hips; lower your arms on the exhale.
5. Child’s Pose
“This is one last chance to melt away tension and calm the body before
you start the day,” Gorman says. From tabletop, lower your knees
to the mat, a little more than hip width apart and move your hips back
down toward the heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you and rest
your head between your arms, with the forehead on the floor. As an alternative,
you may place your arms along side your body.
“Remember to talk with your doctor before undertaking any new exercises,
especially if you have health issues, such as chronic back, neck or shoulder
pain,” Gorman says. “With any new pose, don’t strain
your muscles or try to push the body too far. My motto in yoga is 'no
pain, no pain.' Yoga should never hurt. These moves are for stretching
and relaxation, and the more often you do them, the better you will feel.”