Moving your body first thing in the morning is a great way to jumpstart your metabolism and prepare you for the day—and yoga is an easy, healthy, low-stress way to do that.
Yoga utilizes all muscle groups, and that makes it an excellent workout. It’s perfect for everyone—from beginners to advanced practitioners. Here are five beginner yoga poses you can do to start your day right!
Downward-Facing Dog (Ado Mukha Svanasana)
Downward-facing Dog (sometimes called the ‘inverted V shape’) is one of the best spine stretches you can start your day with. When you press your palms firmly to the ground and push yourself up from the floor, it creates space between your vertebrae and decompresses your entire spine.
Do not firmly press your heels into the floor. Rather, they should be reaching toward the floor, so your leg muscles are always working for more flexibility and mobility.
When you simultaneously move your hips diagonally into the air and reach your heels toward the floor, you work your hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, and Achilles tendons—the whole nine yards!
Inhale deeply to “grow taller;” as you exhale, get deeper into the stretch.
Upward-Facing Dog (Urdva Mukha Svanasana)
Upward-facing Dog stretches the spine in the opposite way. It creates a great opening in the front of your body and allows your chest to expand. When you pull your shoulders away from your ears and toward each other, it improves shoulder and neck mobility, while stretching the collarbone and pectoral muscles. Firmly press your palms and the tops of your feet into the floor for leverage and go deeper into the backbend as you inhale and exhale.
Activate your quads and relax your glutes as much as you can to release tension in your lower back.
Also, try to roll your inner thighs toward one another—this protects your lower back even more and really stretches those hip flexors.
Runner’s Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Practice this pose to give your hamstrings a bit more love in the morning and prepare them for the day. Your front foot firmly pressed into the ground activates the glute as you stretch out the other leg, and position your heel to reach upward. Activate the quad in your stretched leg and open up your chest with an inhale. As you exhale, move your shoulders away from your ears to open your chest.
Use each breath to stretch yourself in opposite directions, and imagine yourself “growing taller” through the crown of your head to tighten your core.
Try to finish three to five full breath cycles before you switch legs. If this starts to feel hard on your lower back, modify the position by resting the back knee down on the floor.
Remember, the key is to feel good in every pose.
Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twisting is a great way to flush out toxins and bring fresh energy into your body. Imagine that your spine is a water-drenched rag, and you have to squeeze all the liquid out of it.
Sit tall on your sit bones and lengthen your spine as you inhale. When you exhale, go a bit deeper into the twist. Once again, pay attention to your shoulders and make sure they’re not cramped up near your ears.
Shif your gaze backward to intensify the twist and stretch your neck. If you feel a sharp pain or pinch, stop where your body tells you to.
When you exit this pose, be just as careful as when you entered it. Take the time to stack each vertebra back into its neutral position.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is one of the best passive stretches because it includes a hip opener you control by spreading your knees. If you open them wider, it allows your upper body to sink into the ground and relax your belly. Stretch your arms fully in front of you, and then walk out with your fingers as far as you can without lifting your shoulders.
Relax your forehead into the ground and allow your neck to elongate naturally. Breathe into your hips and sink deeper with each exhale. You can also incorporate a gentle side stretch if you walk both hands to the left and right without moving your head or torso.