Morning Yoga Poses That Will Wake You Up

If you want to establish a consistent yoga practice, one of the first steps is to find the time of day that works best for you and make sure to be on your mat each day at that time. It doesn't matter what time it is, but it does make sense to tailor your practice to the rhythm of the day. For morning yoga, this means gently shaking off sleep and then invigorating yourself for the day ahead.

Get started by coming to lying on your back with your knees bent. You can hug your knees to your chest if that feels good.

Reclined Big Toe Pose - Supta Padangustasana

Reclined Big Toe Pose- Supta Padangustasana
Reclined Big Toe Pose- Supta Padangustasana. Ann Pizer

Wake up the hamstrings with supta padangustasana. If you have a strap handy, that's a great way to get more extension, but you can also just reach around your leg and hold your thigh with a hand on either side. Other variations include keeping the knee of bottom leg bent with the sole of your foot resting on the floor. This will help release the lower back. Rotate your ankle while your foot is in the air.

Eye of the Needle - Sucirandhrasana

Eye of the Needle Pose - Sucirandhrasana
Eye of the Needle Pose - Sucirandhrasana. © Ann Pizer

Eye of the needle is a good way to gently great your hips in the morning. It's easy for you to control the intensity of the stretch by changing the position of your bottom leg. The gentlest option is to bend the knee of the bottom leg but keep the sole of your foot on the floor. If you want to go deeper from there, reach through, hold the back of your thigh and start to draw your thigh toward your chest. This has the effect of opening the hip on the opposite leg. You can also hold the front of your shin, as shown here.

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Muhka Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana. © Ann Pizer

Though downward facing dog feels great at any time of day, it's particularly satisfying first thing in the morning. It's our transition into a few poses that will start to invigorate you for the day ahead. Peddling the legs by bending one knee at a time eases you into the pose. Once you have done that, try to come to a relatively still position for about five breaths. Of course, you're never completely still in any yoga pose because your breath is always going and your body continues to make micro adjustments for balance and to deepen the pose.

Lunge Pose

Lunge Pose
Lunge. © Ann Pizer

Step your right foot forward to the inside of your right hand, preparing for some lunge variations. It's yogi's choice here. You can stay in a low lunge, working on getting your right thigh parallel to the floor and keeping your left leg super strong. You can begin to straighten your right leg and forward bend over that leg. You can drop your left knee to the mat for more of an anjaneyasana. You can even throw your hands in the air and lift up into a high lunge. Make this choice by tuning in to what your body needs on this day. It might not necessarily be the same every day.

Half Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana
Half-Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana. © Ann Pizer

Building your energy, spring up into ardha chandrasana. If you usually use a prop under your bottom hand, have that handy. (If you don't have a block at home, improvise with a chair or step stool.) You'll probably feel this pose in the hamstring of the standing leg. Keep the lifted leg and arm strong with the foot and hand full of life. Focus on rotating your chest toward the ceiling by imagining the morning sun shining on (or out of!) your heart.

After this pose, step back to downward facing dog and go through your lunge and ardha chandrasana with the left foot forward.

Plank Pose

Plank Pose
Plank Pose. © Ann Pizer

Step back to a plank position. Let this be another opportunity to fire up your arms and legs, keeping them engaged and strong. Try to hold this position for five unhurried breaths. If you have to, you can drop your knees to the mat.

Knees, Chest, and Chin

Knees, Chest, and Chin
Knees, Chest, and Chin - Ashtanga Namaskara. © Ann Pizer

Drop your knees to the mat. Keep your butt high as you lower your chest and chin down to the floor. You should look like a little inchworm. You can do a chaturanga here instead, but I strongly encourage knees. chest and chin to begin to introduce a gentle backbend into your morning.

Low Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana

Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana
Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana. © Ann Pizer

Anchor your pelvis to the floor and lift your chest into a low cobra with very little pressure on the hands. If you want, you can begin to straighten your arms for a higher cobra or even lift your knees for an upward facing dog. (These will require you to put more weight into your hands, obviously). If you go for one of the latter two variations, be sure to keep your shoulder blades on your back and your shoulders away from your ears. This is your chance to greet the day with an open and shining heart.

Child's Pose - Balasana

Child's Pose - Balasana
Child's Pose - Balasana. © Ann Pizer

Spread your knees wide and push back to child's pose with your chest resting between your knees and your forehead on the floor. Take a few breaths here to feel the effects of your practice and set any intentions you might have for the day ahead. Then rise ready to take on the day feeling invigorated. You may even feel ready to skip your morning coffee!

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.