8 Yoga Poses for an Ideal Morning Yoga Routine
Beginning your day with exercise is a good way to warm up your mind and body — you’ll start your day in a better mood, having already achieved something, and with endorphins to propel you through the morning meeting, school drop-off, or whatever the AM has in store.
You can start with a higher-intensity workout, like barre or pilates, or a mellow stretch. Yoga offers a happy medium — with many styles and varying intensity, you can choose what works best for you and your routine.
Yoga involves stretching, of course, but they’re not the same. Yoga requires dedicated mindfulness that’s shown to improve mental health so you start your morning feeling good mentally and physically. We recommend setting an intention with your practice for your day ahead to keep you focused.
Check out the following poses to get you started on your morning yoga practice.
If you’re a beginner yogi, these poses will get your blood flowing without challenging your strength or flexibility too much.
The cat/cow pose is a staple warm-up for any yoga practice. It’s a good way to regulate your breath and clear your mind before moving on to more physically challenging poses.
- Start in a tabletop position—hands placed below shoulders, knees squared below hips.
- Your toes should be curled for a full calf stretch, but you can modify it to have the top of your feet flat on the mat if that’s more comfortable.
- As you inhale through your nose, arch your back and look upward. This is the cow pose.
- On the exhale through your mouth, curve your back upward and roll your head forward to look at your knees. This is the cat pose.
You can cycle through cat/cow as long as it takes to get into a flow of deep breaths.
Another breath-focused pose, the sun salutation can be done standing or seated (in a chair or cross-legged).
- Place your feet shoulder width apart on your mat, with your hands at your sides.
- On the inhale, sweep your arms upward and touch your hands overhead. Keep your spine tall,--don’t lean back.
- On the exhale, pull your hands through the heart center (straight down over your face and chest) until they rest comfortably at your sides.
This is just the beginning of a sun salutation flow, which we’ll cover fully below in our 15-minute morning yoga flow routine.
- From a standing position, step one foot forward, bending your knee squarely above your toes.
- Let your back foot rotate outward to provide more stability and less strain on your calf.
- Lift your arms parallel to the length of your mat, corresponding to your feet.
Hold this pose for five breaths, then switch sides.
These poses challenge your stability and strength a little more, for a bit of a more intense workout.
The downward dog is a cornerstone pose for any yoga practice as it stretches the body through the back of the legs and relieves neck and back tension. The inversion also helps increase blood flow throughout your body.
- Start in a tabletop position.
- As you exhale, lift your knees off the mat, lengthening arms and legs to create an upside-down ‘v’ with your body.
- Your feet should be planted on the mat, however if that’s too deep a stretch, you can lift your heels.
- Option to modify this pose by cycling your legs, taking turns bending either knee.
Hold this pose for five breaths.
The triangle pose is tricky to nail down, but when done properly and consistently, stretches the hip and hamstrings and opens the shoulders and chest.
- From a standing position, bring one foot forward and angle your back foot parallel to the back of your mat.
- Your feet should be farther than hips’ width apart, without straining your inner thighs.
- Inhale as your hips open towards the length of your mat, and hold your hands open at your sides.
- On the exhale, hinge at your hips, tipping towards your front foot.
- Reach one hand to your mat and the other up to the sky.
- If this feels unstable or too much of a stretch on your side, consider using a block or support to give you some height.
Stay here for a few breaths, then switch sides.
The wide-legged forward fold easily transitions from Warrior II as follows:
- Stand facing the length of your mat.
- Place your feet wider than hips-distance apart (as much as is comfortable).
- On an exhale, lean forward and place your hands, fingers spread wide in front of you. If that’s too deep a stretch, using a block can give you some extra height and stability.
- For a greater balance challenge, rest your palms on your feet (without putting weight on them) or let your hands fall to the floor, bending so your head rests on the floor while keeping your neck long.
Stay here for a few breaths, swaying side to side with the option to take turns bending your knees.
These poses are the most challenging, testing your balance, strength, and flexibility.
This pose focuses on building flexibility and balance.
- From a standing position, lift your leg, knee against torso, and hold your big toe (or toes).
- Hold your other arm outward to regain balance.
- Once steady, extend your leg outward to your side without overextending your knee.
Hold this pose for a few breaths, then switch sides.
- Stand with your feet facing the top of your mat. Bend your knees slightly.
- On an exhale, lift your leg and reach your arms straight forward, creating a ‘T’ shape with your body.
- Keep your knee slightly bent to help with balance.
Stay here for a few breaths, then switch legs.
You’ll find all the above poses in a variety of yoga classes, depending on the style you choose.
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lululemon Studio offers various yoga classes to choose from under different styles of practice. For beginners building their morning practice, we’d recommend starting with Gentle Yoga classes.
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up or a challenge, check out the Vinyasa: Power classes to jumpstart your morning. You can find classes targeting different parts of your body.
We don’t recommend Restorative yoga for the morning, as it induces relaxation: it is much better suited to before bed.
Flow yoga is a style of yoga that involves continuous movement, or flowing, through different poses. This practice is focused on warming up the body, increasing the heart rate and moving intentionally in time with your breath. As you build your own morning flow yoga practice, you can vary the speed to suit your goals.
This form of yoga is not strenuous because you aren’t holding poses long but is still exercise and provides a good stretch. If you hope to build balance and flexibility, you can adjust pace accordingly.
Check out our yoga flow classes and the following routine to start your practice.
This morning yoga flow routine will help you get a quick stretch and warm up before your day, start your day mindfully, etc.
This morning yoga flow routine aims to warm up your mind and body for the day ahead. It’s suitable for beginners and can easily be modified to suit your needs.
Use the pose instructions above to fill in the gaps.
Breathing Warm-Up: 3 minutes
Start in a seated position with your right hand on your stomach and your left hand on your heart. Breathe here for one minute.
Next, transition into a tabletop position and practice the cat/cow pose, paying special attention to warming up your back. Stay here for two minutes.
Get Your Body Moving: 7 minutes
Check out our full sun salutation flow tutorial below. Repeat this flow 3-5 times.
On an inhale, move into Warrior II, then exhale and tip forward into the Triangle pose. Stay here for one breath. On your inhale, gaze forward and lift your back leg, extending your arms forward into Warrior III. Stay here for another breath then plant your back leg into Warrior II.
Make sure to repeat on both sides.
Winding down (5 minutes)
Move from your final Warrior II to downward dog, resting here for a few breaths. On an exhale, plant your knees on the mat and lean back into child's pose.
Rest here for one minute.
Slowly make your way to lying down on your back. Bring your knees up to your chest, making circles with your knees to massage your lower back. After a minute or so, change directions, then return to lying flat in corpse pose (savasana).
You’ve made it through your morning flow, so dedicate the last minutes of your practice to savasana. You can set an intention for the day ahead or simply focus on your breathing until you’re ready to rise.
That depends on your goal: if you want to establish daily mindfulness, warm up your body and stretch, definitely. Ten minutes per day is a great place to start and practicing consistently over time will impact how you start your day.
That being said, if you’re hoping to significantly improve your flexibility, balance, or strength, a more dedicated practice is necessary. That’s not to say that practicing yoga in 10-minute daily sessions isn’t worthwhile. In fact, it’s much better to build up stamina incrementally than intermittent, long sessions.
Beginning your practice should start incrementally — just like starting a habit, it takes time. You can find a local studio with early morning classes or an online class at home. We have a full guide with expert tips to building your at-home yoga practice.
Essential Yoga Equipment
At the very least, you’ll need a yoga mat. Doing yoga without one is possible, but a mat provides support for your hands, knees and feet — any body part that bears weight during your practice will thank you for investing in one.
A cleaning spray for your mat is recommended to clear it of sweat or debris, which can extend the life of your yoga mat.
You might want to purchase a block or have something on hand to provide extra balance and support for trickier poses or if you require modifications because of any injury/disability. A folded up blanket will work for most cases where extra padding is required.
Finally, we’d recommend having a glass of water or tea for your morning yoga routine to hydrate.
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Your At-Home Yoga Studio
Depending on your space, you may not have an extra room to dedicate to your practice. Not to worry, there are things you can do to enhance your practice or distinguish it from your living room.
You can light a candle, add a diffuser, or play music in the background of your practice to set the scene.
Calibrating your space before beginning your practice can help you get into the right mindset to focus and meditate on the day ahead.
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Starting your day with exercise is a great way to warm up your mind and body to feel energized. Yoga is a great option to incorporate mindfulness with exercise, but it’s just one option of many. If you’d prefer a morning run, consider incorporating these essential yoga poses for runners to your warm up stretch.
Yoga or not, adding exercise into your morning is a great way to start the day.\
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