Yoga in the morning is amazing! After 7-8 hours (hopefully) of shut eye, our body responds affectionately to movement, and our mind is clear and receptive to positive ideas and messages. Our breath is ready for us to deepen and expand its potency, and our energy is just waiting to be stirred up after a long siesta.
There are countless asanas and awesome yoga poses that all have amazing benefits, so I actually found it really challenging to pick a list of 10. Those I’ve chosen are perhaps not overly traditional (my list is missing most of the classical floor postures), but I like to adapt my practice to suit my modern day lifestyle.
So here are my current favourites for an early day practice and the reasons why.
1. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)
There are several variations to this sequence of postures known as salute to the sun. They’re traditionally practiced as the sun is rising, and whichever version of Surya Namaskar you practice, they’re a great way to warm up and start to sync movement of the body with the flow of the breath.
As they work all of the 7 major chakras, they’ll help you light up energetically and the rhythmic movement can help create a sense of inner calm.
2. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
It’s most commonly called Chair Pose, which kinda suggests something comfortable and relaxing. Personally, I think it’s more appropriate to use one Utkatasana’s other translations, Thunderbolt, Fierce Pose or Awkward Pose.
Call it what you will, Utkatasana is an amazing way to generate heat in the body and quickly build energy. It activates the core and the legs and challenges your mind to stay present and positive, all great benefits for a morning practice.
3. Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
I mean, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of sitting down in your not-so-comfy Chair, you might as well get the twisting benefits of the revolved variation right?! Twisting poses have a squeeze and release effect on your digestive system and internal organs so they help promote detoxification. And on that note, I’d hold off on breakfast until after your practice if you plan on getting twisty...
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
If you only have time for one in the morning, I’d make it this one. The whole body’s involved so it’s a great way to wake up every part of your physique. That beautiful stretch through the backs of the legs and hips just feels incredible. It’s little wonder our canine friends do this one naturally when they wake up...
5. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
I’ve got a problematic psoas muscle that likes to grip and shorten any chance it can get, so Anjaneyasana is like a bubble bath for my hip flexors. You get that lovely open stretchy feeling through the hips, arms and torso, and it also builds strength in the legs.
A really nice morning variation is to interlace the fingers behind the lower back and gently drawing the hands away to open the chest and heart space.
6. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
One of the classic yoga asanas, Trikonasana helps to give you a strong sense of grounding and stability through activating and balancing the root chakra, Muladhara. It powers up the legs and core, and the subtle twist allows you to open and light up the heart space. Beautiful.
7. Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3)
I feel like I’m taking an energetic multivitamin when I spend 30 seconds in Warrior 3! It activates the legs, the core and fires up Manipura, the solar plexus chakra encouraging feelings of confidence, determination and willpower.
Of course those qualities are awesome at any time of the day, but a dose in the morning means we can approach our work and daily activities with a true sense of inner strength.
8. Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)
Ah, an opportunity to find a few moments of grace on the mat. I’ve added it to the list for two reasons. Firstly, the backbend opens the heart space and creates a surge of beautiful energy and secondly, because it’s a balance it encourages equilibrium in both the body and the mind.
9. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold)
I prefer this wide-legged forward fold to Uttanasana in the morning because it seems to feel better in my body, but of course both are great options. You’ve got glorious lengthening in the spine,a stretch through the hamstrings, and the effects of the inversion help you face the day with calmness and clarity. There are 3 variations of Prasarita Padottanasana, you could do all, or pick one that works best for your body.
10. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Ardha Matsyendrasana is one of the classic yoga asanas for a good reason. Like all twisting postures, it promotes a healthy spine. It also helps stimulate the internal organs, promoting healthy digestion and encouraging detoxification. Another pose to do before breakfast.
Whether you’ve got time for one pose, or all of these and more, finding a connection between your body, mind and breath is going to set you up for an amazing day. Have I missed your favourite from the list? If so, let me know what it is and why!
Images courtesy of author/yogini: Anna Coventry