How you spend your morning matters because the morning sets the precedent for how your day ahead. The best way to set yourself up for a successful and stress-free day is by centering yourself, moving your body, and calming the mind with a quick morning yoga routine.
Mindful Confidence yoga teacher and life coach Laura Holmes tells us, “Yoga philosophy is about regular practice that will lead to not only physical benefits but a connection with your mind like no other. So, by practicing in the morning, you connect with your mind and strengthen your body, as well as set the tone for self-love throughout the day.”
Here’s our favorite 10-minute morning yoga routine to set you up for a wonderful day…
1. Sit and Breathe to Center Yourself
Once you’ve decided on the perfect area of your home to practice in, it’s time to take a seat on your mat, cross-legged if possible, and start by focusing on the breath. Breathe deeply in through the nose, hold for five seconds, then release the breath out through the mouth. Visualize yourself breathing in happiness, peace, and joy, and breathing out stress, tiredness, and anxiety. Repeat this ten times.
2. Start in The Cat-Cow Position (Marjariasana)
Once you’ve focused your breath, move onto all fours to get into the cat-cow position (Marjariasana). Arch your back into a cow position whilst inhaling, and round your back into a cat position whilst exhaling. Aim to do this ten times, but feel free to do this move more if you feel you still need to loosen up your back.
This pose improves balance and posture, promotes flexibility in the back, and opens the abdomen and hips.
3. Move into Downward Dog
(Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From this pose, move your legs back, extend them, and extend your arms forward so that you come into a downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) position. Once you’re in this position, bend one leg at a time slowly to open up your lower body and stretch your hamstrings. Breathe into this position and hold for ten breaths.
Downward dog promotes blood flow and circulation, strengthens the upper body, and allows you to stretch the lower body fully.
4. Lower into A Plank Position (Kumbhakasana)
Slowly shift your weight forwards and come into a tall plank position (Kumbhakasana). Breathe into this position for five breaths, then move back into a downward dog for five breaths, then back into a plank. Repeat this twice, so you have twenty breaths in total - this range of movement is especially good for strength training.
Plank position, commonly used in body weight exercises and workouts, strengthens the upper body, the spine, and the core, as well as building stamina and endurance. Moving in between downward dog enhances these benefits and increases heart rate.
5. Flow into a Cobra
From a plank position, move into cobra (Bhujangasana): Slowly and gently drop your hips down to your mat so that your stomach rests on the floor, and keep your hands pressed on the floor on either side of your chest. Press the tops of your feet and lower your hips further into the mat whilst slowly lifting your chest up towards the ceiling. This is a wonderful heart-opening position - hold for ten breaths.
Bali-based yoga teacher, Agus Wirayasa, states that during cobra pose, “every muscle of your body is pulled and stretched which promotes elasticity and suppleness to your backbone”.
6. Push Back into Downward Dog and Do Leg Lifts
(Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From cobra, tuck your toes underneath you and slowly push back into downward dog. In downward dog, raise one leg up flexing the foot towards the ground, and push your arms to the ground. Stay here for three breaths and do the same on the opposite leg. This movement promotes upper body and core strength whilst also stretching and improving circulation in the legs.
7. Flow into One-Legged Pigeon Pose
(Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
From downward dog, place one leg (your shin) across the front of your mat at a 45-degree angle and keep the other leg on the ground. Then, slowly lean your chest forward and come to rest on the floor if you can. Breathe for five breaths, then go back into downward dog and then back into pigeon pose on the other side. Once complete on the other leg, push back into downward dog.
Pigeon Pose is a great hip and back opener, promoting flexibility and strength, whilst also supporting digestion.
8. Gently Drop Down and Come into Child’s Pose
From downward dog, lower your knees to the ground, kneel, slide your arms forward to the ground, widen your knees, and rest your head on the ground. Breathe into this position for ten breathes or more if necessary.
Sara Clark, an EYT 500-hour certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, says that, “child’s pose is the most important resting pose in yoga, and a nice way to stretch various parts of the body”.
9. Set Your Intentions for The Day and End Your Practice
Whether still in child’s pose or seated, at the end of your practice it’s important that you set your intentions for the day going forward (for example, “I will remain calm in all of my endeavors today”).
Once you’ve set your intentions, it’s time to get going with your day! Try to carry through the sense of peace and calm you have at this moment into the rest of your day, and make sure you congratulate yourself on already getting your dose mindfulness and exercise in for the day.
Top tip: If you feel particularly stressed or anxious throughout the day, you can always find a quiet space and repeat this process, or you can practice meditation focusing on the intentions that you set in your morning practice.