Wake Up or Relax With this Soothing Yoga Workout

This basic yoga workout is perfect to wake up your body first thing in the morning or to relax at the end of a long day. These simple moves help you find balance, stability, flexibility and help you wake up refreshed or go to bed relaxed for a better night's sleep.


See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed

How To

  • Do this workout anytime you like, in the morning when you wake up or before bed.
  • Perform each exercise, taking your time and focusing on your breath - breathe in and out through the nose, taking the air in through the back of your throat.
  • Do each pose at least once, more if you have time.
  • Stay mindful throughout each exercise.

Standing Cat Stretch

The standing cat stretch is a great way to stretch out the lower back, whether you're just getting out of bed or planning to get into it. To make the move even more awesome, pull your abs in as you round the back up towards the ceiling.

Standing Cat Stretch

Lower into a squat with the hands on the thighs, back arched. Exhale and pull the abs in and round the back up towards the ceiling. Inhale and lower back to start, repeating 15 times.


Sun Salutation

The sun salutation is the perfect exercise to get your circulation going, get air into your lungs and get a sense of how your body is feeling. You'll also stretch all the major muscles - the Chest, hamstrings, arms and more.

Sun Salutation

Begin in a standing position and inhale as you sweep the arms up and overhead. Exhale and engage the abs as you tip from the hips and lower into a Forward Bend, with hands on the floor or feet--bend the knees if you need to. Inhale and come up until the back is flat and exhale into forward bend. Inhale and come back up, sweeping the arms overhead until palms touch. Repeat the series 4 to 8 times.


Hanging Back Stretch

I love this move after a long day, it's a great way to really stretch out the back and neck, both areas that get tight over a long day at the computer. If you're doing this in the morning, you may need to start slow with the hands on the thighs, gently letting your back and hamstrings ease into this stretch.

The Hanging Back Stretch

Sweep the arms up and overhead, then exhale and lower into a forward bend, bending the knees if you need to. Grab onto either elbow with both hands and gently hang, slowly allowing your back to release and stretch. Try and straighten the legs a bit if you can to stretch the hamstrings. Hold for 5-8 breaths.


Warrior I - Right Side

Warrior I is the perfect exercise to stretch the chest, arms and the hip flexors.  It's also a great balance move, working all the stabilizer muscles in the lower body.

Warrior I

Step forward with the right foot into a lunge, keeping the back leg straight and the left toes pointed out at about 45-degrees, heel down on the floor.  Keep the right knee directly above the ankle and the hips squared to the front.  Sweep the arms up and overhead and look up as you slide the shoulders down and away from the ears.  Stretch and hold for 3-5 breaths.


Warrior II - Right Side

woman doing warrior 2
Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

This is a natural progression from Warrior I, turning the body so that you're now opening up through the chest and hips.

Warrior II

From Warrior I, turn the body to the left while bringing the arms down to the front and back and parallel to the floor.  Gaze out over the right hand while keeping the front knee bent and the shoulders relaxed.  Reach out through your fingertips, relax the shoulders and hold for 3-5 breaths.


Modified Triangle - Right Side

The Triangle Pose is usually done by stretching the bottom arm all the way to the floor.  I like this modified version, especially first thing in the morning.  There's a little more emphasis on stretching rather than exertion.

Modified Triangle

From Warrior II, take the right arm down and rest the forearm on the right thigh.  Take the left hand straight up to the sky, fingers spread and the arm directly over the shoulder.  Look up at the left hand and hold for 3-5 breaths.

 Repeat the entire series on the left side.


Spine Twist

Now it's time to stretch out the back and give yourself a moment to relax and breathe.

Spine Twist

While lying face up on the mat, bend the right leg and place the right foot on the left knee.  Slowly twist to the left while taking the right hand straight out on the floor, the left hand gently pressing on the right knee.  Relax into the stretch and feel it in your lower back and hips.  Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 


Corpse Pose

This is the move you really don't want to skip.  In the morning, it gives you time to breathe and relax before facing your day.  At night, it gives you time to unwind before going to bed.  Enjoy!

Corpse Pose

Lie on your back with legs and arms out from the body.  Let your feet flop out and relax your fingers.  Close your eyes and relax the muscles round each eye as you breath deeply.  Starting at your feet, consciously relax each part of your body, letting all your tension go as you breath.  Stay here as long as you can.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."