14 Morning Yoga Poses That Will Ease You Into Your Day
Easy Seated Twist
Bharadvajasana has everything morning yoga poses should have: It lengthens and opens up your spine, back, hips, shoulders, and chest, improving digestion and relieving back pain, to boot.
How to: Begin in a seated position with arms relaxed on either side of you. Take right hand to the ground and place behind sacrum. Rest left hand on right knee. Inhale and lengthen spine. On exhale, use hands to twist torso to the right. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Camel Pose is a heart opener—it physically opens up your chest, increasing lung capacity, allowing you to breathe a little deeper and start the day on a calmer note.
How to: Begin in a high kneeling position with hips over your knees so your weight is supported by your shins and the tops of your feet. Tuck your toes and place your palms on your sacrum (fingers face up or down, whichever feels better). Draw your elbows into one another so that they aren't winging out. Keep your thighs rotating inward and pull your shoulder blades toward one another. Look to the ceiling as you lift your chest upward. Release your hands to your heels and arch your spine. Tip your head back to keep the whole spine in extension (skip this step if you have neck pain). Hold here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Cat-Cow stretches your back, torso, and neck. Think of it as a gentle massage for your spine—just the yoga pose you need for the morning after what can sometimes be a stiff night's sleep.
How to: Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Inhale and look up with an arched spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow. As you exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round spine like an angry cat. Do at least 5 complete breath cycles (5 inhales/cats and 5 exhales/cows).
Talk about a good way to open up in the a.m.: Dancer pose is just one yoga pose that you need to feel lighter, happier, and more open.
How to: From standing, shift your weight onto right leg. Bend left knee and grab the inside of left ankle with left hand. Gently lift left leg and press ankle into hand to open back. Reach right arm straight up. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths, then repeat on other side.
Twisted Chair Pose
Twisted Chair pose 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. Read: a killer morning yoga pose. (Related: Related: Try This Yoga Flow to Stretch and Strengthen Your Legs)
How to: Stand with feet and legs together. Begin to bend knees and sink hips down and back as if you were sitting in a chair far behind you. Bring palms together in front of chest. Rotate spine to bring right elbow to left knee. Try to keep chest lifted the whole time. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Locust pose strengthens the muscles in your legs and lower back while opening up your chest and elongating your spinal column (it can also help work your core). Like all backbends, Locust boosts energy and revs you up—something most of us need out of a pose in the morning.
How to: Lie on your stomach with arms alongside body, palms facing up. Lift head, upper body, arms, and legs up off the floor. Keep arms and legs active and look forward or slightly up depending on flexibility. Hold for 45 seconds before releasing everything to the floor and turning your head to one side. Repeat three times.
Like Locust, Bow is a great morning yoga pose because it's a backbend that helps boost energy and keep your metabolism burning strong. Bow also opens up and stretches the front of your body while strengthening your back muscles.
How to: Lie face down on the floor and bring hands alongside body, palms facing up. Bend knees and reach back with hands to grab ankles. (Don't grab your feet.) Keeping legs hip-distance apart, lift heels up and away from body, which will pull chest up off the floor. Keep shoulder blades down, away from ears the entire time. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds and then release, turning your head to the side. Repeat two more times.
In addition to building strong, lean leg muscles, Eagle is a pose that will energize your mornings by waking up the entire body and helping with digestion. (Related: Yoga Poses to Help You Feel Lighter)
How to: Start in a standing position and bend knees slightly. Lift right leg up and around standing leg and hook foot and ankle behind left calf. Sink hips down and back as if you were going to sit on a chair. Cross arms at elbows and wrists in front of chest and hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Come out of the pose, shake out your legs, and switch sides.
Crescent Lunge Pose
Crescent Lunge gets your heart rate up, which can be important in the morning because it helps speed up your metabolism. It also strengthens your legs and stretches your hips. (Related: 6 Mini Resistance Band Exercises for Hip Strength)
How to: Begin in Downward Dog pose. Step right foot between hands. Lower hips into lunge position and shift weight onto the ball of back foot, bringing hands to hips. Stay up on the ball of back foot and lift upper body so that you're standing straight up. Keep hips squared the entire time. Bring arms above you and reach for the ceiling. Palms should be facing each other. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then switch sides.
Bridge pose is a gentle inversion that's a perfect morning yoga pose. It works with gravity to open your entire chest and shoulder area. Because the chest is lifted up towards the chin, the thyroid gland is being massaged. ICYDK, your thyroid makes the hormones that regulate your metabolism. (Related: Related: 2 Glute Bridge Exercise Variations to Target Specific Results)
How to: Lie on back with knees bent, feet hip-distance apart and flat on the floor. Reach down with fingertips to see if you can feel heels. If not, walk heels a little closer to body. Press weight into feet to lift hips up toward the ceiling. Keep thighs parallel. Bring arms underneath you and try to clasp hands together. Roll shoulders blades toward each other and hold this pose for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Release and roll slowly back to the floor. Repeat two more times.
Plow pose is an inversion so it increases circulation in your thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. This helps send out feel-good endorphins and hormones throughout your body, balancing your metabolic system—welcome on those can't-get-out of bed mornings.
How to: Lie on back and bring legs straight up in the air toward the ceiling. Bring arms alongside body with palms down. Press into hands and lift legs over head. If legs do not touch the ground behind you, bring hands to back for support. If your feet do hit the ground, then clasp hands together, trying to roll shoulder blades toward one another.
Shoulder Stand is another morning pose that's an inversion, meaning it has circulation benefits. Plus, it’s a great stretch for your neck and upper back. (Related: 6 Exercises That Teach You How to Do a Handstand—No Yoga Required)
How to: Lie on the floor on back with arms alongside body, palms down. Bring legs in the air toward the ceiling. Press into hands to lift legs over head, coming to Plow Pose. Clasp hands together and try to roll shoulder blades toward each other. Bring hands to lower back for support, make sure fingers are spread wide. Slowly lift legs to the ceiling one leg at a time. Try to get as straight as possible by walking hands close to shoulders. Hold for 1 to 3 minutes.
Fish is a counter pose to Shoulder Stand that stretches the front of your neck. It has a calming effect on your body, which makes it the perfect morning yoga pose.
How to: Lie down on back. Bring hands, palms down, under glutes. Bend elbows and lean on them by pressing them into the floor. Lift chest up toward the ceiling so back is arched. Bring elbows toward each other. Finally, drop head back toward the floor.
Easy Spinal Twist is a great pose to help stimulate your digestive system, which can help you, well, get going in the morning. (Related: These Rotational Moves Will Sculpt Some Serious Obliques)
How to: Lie on back and bring both knees in toward chest. Holding left knee into chest, let right leg straighten out on the floor. Bring bent left knee across body, keeping shoulder blades on the floor. Turn head to look over left shoulder to complete twist. Hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Bring both knees into chest and repeat on the other side.