These poses will warm up your body, stretch out your muscles and help you start the day off with a positive attitude.
Your yoga routine should begin with a few poses that will warm up your muscles and prepare you for the rest of the workout. These poses are also a nice way to wake yourself up and prepare mentally for the day ahead.
- When you’re ready, begin by finding a comfortable sitting position on the floor. Cross your legs and place your hands on your knees, palms facing down. Start to focus on your breath as you close your eyes and turn inward, visualizing that as you inhale, energy is flowing into every part of your body; as you exhale, all negative thoughts are flowing out with each breath leaving only positivity in their place. Stay here for 2-3 minutes breathing deeply.
- Next move into some gentle neck stretches by rolling from side to side and then dropping your chin to chest making sure to keep shoulders relaxed at all times. Follow this by drawing ear toward each shoulder allowing gravity to pull head down slightly further than level with the ground—again hold for a few long deep breaths before switching sides.
The cat-cow stretch is intended to warm up your spine and prepare your body for the day. It is a gentle way to wake up your core, as well as stretch your back, chest, neck, hips, and abdomen.
- Get on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Point fingers forward. This is the base position for Cat-Cow Stretch.
- Inhale while dropping belly towards mat and lifting gaze upward (Cow Pose).
- Exhale while drawing belly to spine and rounding upper back (Cat Pose).
To do a forward bend, simply stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Bend forward at the hips (you might find it helpful to imagine someone pulling you toward them from the top of your head). Keep your legs straight as you bend down, attempting to touch the floor with your hands. Keep your knees straight throughout. Hold this pose for 20 seconds, then come back up slowly. Repeat twice more.
This pose is helpful because it stretches out the muscles in the hamstrings that get used when standing or walking, which can make morning movement easier and cause less stiffness later in the day.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is the go-to pose for many yogis, myself included. It is a calming pose that stretches the calves and hamstrings and allows for a full-body stretch when your entire body is in alignment.
To start in this pose, come to all fours on your mat with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Spread fingers wide, press into palms, and tuck toes under. Exhale as you lift your hips high toward the sky while bringing your chest back towards your thighs. Gently straighten out legs so that they are completely straight (or as close as possible) with feet hip-distance apart and heels pressing toward the floor. If you want to deepen the stretch further, you can pull one heel down towards the floor at a time until it touches down for added hamstring stretching. Hold this pose for five deep breaths before releasing and returning to a kneeling position to repeat on other side.
This pose, also known as Balasana, is usually the first pose in a yoga class. It’s part of the Journey into Power and Sun Salutation sequences, and it’s often used as a resting pose. Child’s Pose has many benefits:
- stretches your hips, thighs, and ankles
- relaxes your spine, shoulders, and neck
- calms your mind and relieves stress and fatigue
Once you’ve fully warmed up with all five poses mentioned previously, you can move on to additional postures that will continue to build strength and increase flexibility.
- Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Your palms should be facing forward, with the base of your fingers pressed into the thighs. Try to keep your hands parallel to the ground, while keeping them relaxed.
- Keep a slight curve in your lower back as you stand tall, keeping shoulders relaxed and drawing them down towards the ground slightly as you tuck in your tailbone and straighten the spine from root to crown.
- Gaze softly ahead, focusing on one spot directly in front of you that is about six feet away from your body.
- Start breathing deeply; inhale through the nose for four counts, hold for a count of four, then exhale through an open mouth for eight counts (close mouth just before inhalation).
- Take several more deep breaths before releasing out of the pose and moving on to another morning yoga flow!