Wake up. Roll out mat. Breathe. Practice. Smile.
How we begin our day from the very first moments can have a huge influence on what transpires later on. So it makes sense that when we start our day with intention, conscious movement, rhythmic breathing, and a focused mind, we’re setting ourselves up for all sorts of awesomeness in the hours to come. If you need a bit more guided encouragement, sign to this free 30 Day Yoga Challenge. By committing to practice every day, you’ll soon get into a routine you can rely upon.
The good news is you only need to get up a little earlier than normal! The below 10-15 minute sequence makes it super easy to fit into your morning without compromising on shut-eye.
The following postures will warm up the physical body, encourage detoxification, ignite your internal power centre, help you build a relationship with your breath, and create a positive mindset—basically, all the essentials for a rocking good day!
1. Arrive On Your Mat
Start in easy cross legged or with hands in Anjali Mudra, palms pressed lightly together at the heart centre. It’s time to set an intention for the day ahead.
An intention should be a short, positive sentence or word that serves to inspire and motivate you towards a more uplifted state of being. The word happiness is one of my personal favourites.
2. Cat / Cow
This is a great way of warming up the spine after lying in bed all night! Come to Hands and Knees with the shoulders directly over the wrists, fingers spread wide and the hips above the knees. Inhale the tail and heart lift as the belly dips (Cow Pose). Gaze forward and take care not to over extend the neck.
Exhale to Cat Pose, pressing the mat away as you draw the navel up towards the spine and tuck the chin to the chest, rounding and stretching the back. Keep flowing between the two poses, synchronising the movement of the body with the flow of breath. Find your own rhythm for at least 5/6 breaths or longer if it feels good.
From Hands and Knees, step one foot back and then the other. You want the body to be in a long line, so feel the crown of the head lengthen forward as the tail and heels lengthen back.
Keep shoulders over wrists and draw navel up towards the spine. Fire up through the thighs and, as in the previous posture press the mat away from you to engage the arms and the muscles of the upper back. Turn the corners of the mouth up and hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.
4. Downward Facing Dog
Hands should still be shoulder-distance apart, fingers spread wide. Glide the hips up and back and start off with the knees bent so you can work on lengthening your tail/spine. It’s really nice to straighten one leg at a time, checking out how the hamstrings feel before coming to a stationary pose.
Our bodies are often a little more stiff in the morning, so you can keep your knees bent if neededso you can maintain a long spine. Hold the pose for at least 5-6 full, rich breaths.
Tip: I do the following 4 poses together on the same side and then repeat on the other side but you can always take a Downward Facing Dog in between each to make the sequence a little longer.
5. Open Hip
Float the right leg back behind and lengthen through the ball of the foot. Bend the knee and take the heel towards the butt then yawn the hip open to the right. Keep your chest square to the front of your mat and if the hamstring is happy extend the left heel down.
After several breaths straighten the leg, square up the hips and step back to Downward Dog.
6. Low Lunge
Keep the core switched on as you step the right foot forward between the feet as slowly and lightly as you can. Lower the back knee onto the mat, front knee over the ankle. Sweep the arms up overhead, fingers reaching towards the sky. Lengthen the tailbone down towards the mat and draw the lower ribs and lower belly in to support the lower back.
Feel open and light through the heart space and stay for at least 5-6 breaths.
7. High Lunge
Repeat the steps for the previous pose but this time the back knee is off the mat. Really engage through the back leg and feel it power you through the pose. Fingers are active and energised as you reach up overhead.
If you want to challenge your balance, gaze up between the hands, but stay mindful of the neck.
8. High Lunge Twist
A beautiful transition from high lunge and an excellent way to power up through the legs and reignite that internal power at the core. Keep your legs strong as you slowly float the hands down, left hand to the floor inside the right foot. Peel your right hand up, fingers reaching toward the sky and draw the navel to the spine to support the twist.
Gaze up towards the top hand if your neck is comfortable. Come to the fingertips of the left hand, or for a challenge, take the left hand off the mat or to the heart centre. Stay for at least 5-6 breaths and return the hands back to the mat using strength and control. Step back to Downward Facing Dog.
Step both feet together at the front of your mat and bend the knees. Keep the chin tucked to the chest, core active as you slowly peel up to standing.
9. Side Stretch
Stand in Tadasana with the feet together or hip-distance apart and the arms next to the body. Distribute the weight evenly through both feet and raise the arms up overhead. You can interlace the fingers or if your shoulders prefer, separate the hands.
As you lean the torso over to the right, press the left hip to the left. Tailbone lengthens down to the ground to keep space in the lower back, and heart space is open and light.
Stay for a few breaths then repeat on the other side.
10. Tree Pose
From Tadasana, shift the weight to the 4 corners of the left foot and bring the sole of the right foot to the inner left thigh or calf muscle. Avoid pressing against the knee. Work to get the standing leg firm and steady.
Take hands to prayer at the heart centre.
On an inhale, float the prayer up overhead and keep the shoulders relaxed and away from the ears. Separate the hands if you need to. Stay for at least 5-6 breaths on each side—longer if that feels good, and of course, repeat on the other side.
At the end of this sequence it’s nice to stand or sit quietly with the hands in Anjali Mudra returning your focus to the intention or word that you cultivated at the start. Reconnect with that positive message. After a few moments open your eyes, smile and enjoy your day!