If you’re not a morning person, you may be able to swap your coffee for morning yoga. And good news, you don’t need to spend hours on these stretches. In as little as 10 minutes, you can get a gentle, energizing start to your day. Read more below!
Not a morning person? Put down that second (or third) cup of coffee and reach for your yoga mat instead.
“Yoga is an all-natural wake up call,” says Paige Willis, yoga instructor and founder of Undone. “It increases circulation, blood flow and elimination in your body. And it brings a flow of fresh oxygen to your brain, for mental clarity, and body, for tension release.” Morning yoga poses can also loosen muscles and ease any stiffness that developed overnight, she adds.
Try focusing on yoga poses involving backbends and twists if you want to ease into your day gently, suggests Willis. “They both increase blood flow and free up stagnant energy in your body,” she explains. “Backbends help open up the front of your body and bring balance to your spine, while twists play a supporting role for your digestive system.”
And good news: You don’t need to spend hours on these morning yoga stretches. “You don’t need to practice for a full hour to reap the benefits of yoga in the morning,” says Willis. “A quick 10 to 15 minute yoga session each day — or even 30 minutes here and there throughout the week — is [just as] helpful. But consistency is key.”
How to do these morning yoga poses: After warming up with breathwork to activate your deep core muscles, spend about 15 minutes flowing through these morning yoga stretches (created and demonstrated by Kimberly Fowler and Heidi Kristoffer). Remember, your body is still waking up, so take breaks and modify as needed, suggests Willis.
Want to continue building a consistent yoga practice? Try adding this 15-minute yoga flow for better sleep to your evening routine.
Easy Seated Twist
“Yoga poses that incorporate twists are super beneficial in the morning because they support your digestion,” says Willis. Easy seated twist, aka Bharadvajasana, promotes digestion and more: It lengthens and opens up your spine, back, hips, shoulders, and chest, making it an antidote to back pain as well.
A. Begin in a seated position with arms relaxed on either side of you.
B. Take left hand to the ground and place behind sacrum. Rest right hand on left knee.
C. Inhale and lengthen spine. On exhale, use hands to twist torso to the left.
Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Switch sides; repeat.
Camel pose is a heart opener — it physically opens up your chest, increases lung capacity, and allows you to breathe a little deeper.
A. Begin in a high kneeling position with hips over knees so weight is supported by shins and the tops of feet.
B. Tuck toes and place palms on sacrum (fingers face up or down, whichever feels better). Draw elbows toward one another to avoid winging out.
C. Keep thighs rotating inward and pull shoulder blades toward one another. Look to the ceiling as chest lifts upward.
D. Release hands to heels and arch spine. Tip head back to keep the whole spine in extension (skip this step if you have neck pain).
Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
“[Cat-cow] makes it into almost every class I teach,” says Willis. “It’s a go-to, especially in the morning, and it can be done from a seated position, which makes it easier to do from bed,” if you’re so inclined. Cat-cow stretches your back, torso, and neck. Think of this morning yoga pose as a gentle massage for your spine.
A. Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
B. Inhale and look up with an arched spine, rolling shoulders away from ears for cow.
C. On an exhale, press the floor away with hands and knees, and round spine like an angry cat.
Repeat for 5 complete breath cycles (inhale and exhale).
Talk about a good way to open up in the morning: Dancer pose is one of the best morning stretches to add to your routine if you want to feel lighter, happier, and more open.
A. From standing, shift weight onto right leg. Bend left knee and grab the inside of left ankle with left hand.
B. Gently lift left leg and press ankle into hand to open back. Reach right arm straight up.
Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Switch sides; repeat.
Twisted Chair Pose
Twisted chair pose helps increase circulation by not only using every muscle in your body but also twisting, which wakes up your internal organs and aids in digestion.
A. Stand with feet and legs together. Begin to bend knees and sink hips down and back as if sitting in a chair.
B. Bring palms together in front of chest. Rotate spine to bring right elbow to left knee. Try to keep chest lifted the whole time.
Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.
Locust pose strengthens the muscles in your legs and lower back while opening up your chest and elongating your spinal column. On top of all that, it works your core. Like all backbends, locust boosts energy and revs you up—something most of us need in our morning yoga stretches.
A. Lie on stomach with arms alongside body, palms facing up.
B. Lift head, upper body, arms, and legs up off the floor. Keep arms and legs active and look forward or slightly up depending on flexibility.
Hold for 45 seconds. Release to ground with head to one side. Repeat two times.
Like locust, bow is a great morning yoga pose because it’s a backbend that helps boost energy and keep your metabolism burning strong. Bow also opens up and stretches the front of your body while strengthening your back muscles.
A. Lie face down on the floor and bring hands alongside body, palms facing up.
B. Bend knees and reach back with hands to grab ankles (not feet).
C. Keeping legs hip-width apart, lift heels up and away from body, simultaneously pulling chest off floor. Keep shoulder blades down and away from ears.
Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Release to ground with head to one side. Repeat two times.
In addition to building strong leg muscles, eagle is a pose that will energize your mornings by waking up the entire body and helping with digestion.
A. Start in a standing position and bend knees slightly.
B. Lift right leg up and around standing leg and hook foot and ankle behind left calf.
C. Sink hips down and back as if sitting on a chair. Cross arms at elbows and wrists in front of chest.
Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Uncross arms and legs to stand. Switch sides; repeat.
Crescent Lunge Pose
Crescent lunge gets your heart rate up, which can be important for kickstarting your metabolism in the morning. It also strengthens your legs and stretches your hips.
A. Begin in downward dog pose. Step right foot between hands.
B. Lower hips into lunge position and shift weight onto the ball of left foot, bringing hands to hips.
C. Stay up on the ball of left foot and lift upper body to stand straight up, keeping hips squared.
D. Lift arms and reach toward the ceiling, palms facing each other.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Switch sides; repeat.
Bridge pose is a gentle inversion that’s a perfect morning yoga pose. It works with gravity to open your entire chest and shoulder area. Because the chest is lifted up towards the chin, the thyroid gland is being massaged. ICYDK, your thyroid makes the hormones that regulate your metabolism.
A. Lie on back with knees bent, feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Reach down with fingertips to see if you can feel heels. If not, walk heels a little closer to body.
B. Press weight into feet to lift hips up toward the ceiling, keeping thighs parallel.
C. Bring arms under shoulders and try to clasp hands together. Roll shoulders blades toward each other and hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
D. Release and roll slowly back to the floor, one vertebra at a time.
Repeat two times.
Plow pose is an inversion. so it increases circulation in your thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. This particular morning yoga stretch helps send out feel-good endorphins and hormones throughout your body, balancing your metabolic system—a much-welcomed wake-up on those can’t-get-out of bed mornings.
A. Lie on back and bring legs straight up in the air toward the ceiling.
B. Bring arms alongside body with palms down.
C. Press into hands and lift legs over head. If legs do not touch the ground behind you, bring hands to back for support. If your feet do hit the ground, then clasp hands together, trying to roll shoulder blades toward one another.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Shoulder stand is another morning yoga pose that’s an inversion, meaning it has circulation benefits. Plus, it’s a great stretch for your neck and upper back.
A. Lie on the floor on back with arms alongside body, palms down.
B. Press into hands to lift legs over head.
D. Bring hands to lower back for support, spreading fingers wide. Try to get legs as straight as possible by walking hands close to shoulders.
Hold for 1 to 3 minutes.
Fish pose counters the shoulder stand pose by stretching the front of your neck. Its calming, grounding effects make it the perfect morning yoga pose.
A. Lie down on back. Bring hands, palms up, under glutes.
B. Bend elbows and press into the floor, simultaneously leaning back.
C. Lift chest up toward the ceiling so back is arched. Bring elbows toward each other underneath back.
D. Drop head back toward the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Easy spinal twist should be one of your go-to morning yoga stretches when you want to stimulate your digestive system, which can help you, well, get going in the morning.
A. Lie on back and bring both knees in toward chest.
B. Holding left knee into chest, let right leg straighten out on the floor.
C. Bring bent left knee across body, keeping both shoulder blades on the floor. Right arm reaches out toward right side of the room, in line with right shoulder.
D. Turn head to look over right shoulder to complete twist.
Hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Bring both knees into chest. Switch sides; repeat.