Good morning yoga practice to welcome a new day.

I’ve never been a morning person, clinging to idea that some of us are genetically wired to stay up at night and rise later in the morning. When I discovered that in Ayurveda the vata body likes 8-9 hours sleep, this validated my need for long slumbers. However, so many of the inspiring people I read or listen to get up early and have crafted a morning routine that sets them up with a positive mindset to make the most of the day ahead. And often, that includes yoga in the first hour of their day. In what is regarded as one of the bibles of modern Yoga, B.K.S Iyengar suggests in Light on Yoga to practice in the morning when the mind is fresh and alert. Along with movement through asanas, yoga is also about breathing and meditation so when we weave all three into a morning practice the body is warm and energised and the mind becomes more focussed.

The type of physical yoga you practice in the morning will depend on your energy levels first thing which will vary from person to person. After a (hopefully) long night sleep, the muscles and joints are stiff and will need to be woken slowly so really take your time stretching and warming up. After a few days this will become easier as the body becomes used to the movement. If you are new to yoga it’s best to do some classes with a teacher to explain the specifics of the postures to avoid injury.

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Practicing pranayama breathing exercises in the morning gets oxygen flowing to the cells, in particular the brain meaning we can think more clearly. Simple techniques such as consciously counting breaths in and out, pausing when your lungs are full and then again when empty is a great segway into meditation. More vigorous exercises such as Kapalabhati breathing can also help bring you energy and keep anxiety under control. Here’s a great overview of breathing practices to try: https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/energetics/pranayama/

Meditation can be practiced at any time of the day but is particularly powerful in the morning when we add in visualisation or manifestation techniques that can help us steer the day in the direction we hope for. The basis of meditation is to focus on the present moment and still our thoughts. This can be as simple as just trying to focus on breathing, music or a flickering candle. From there you can start to positively alter the way you consider the world around you. You may like to set an intention or sankulpa. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma, or our overriding purpose for being here. The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices. If you would like some guidance there are a huge choice of guided meditations on streaming platforms, podcasts or YouTube so try a few and see which you connect with.

In addition, many people love to journal, or write, first thing. This can help process your thoughts or emotions and may help guide how the day will unfold. In The Artists Way, Julia Cameron suggests writing three ‘morning pages’ every day in which you scribble any thoughts that pop into your mind in an unstructured and uncensored way. This process is said to clear your head in a cathartic way and open up pathways for creativity to flow.

Setting the scene

Despite best intentions when the alarm goes off in the morning and its dark outside it would be so easy to roll over and go back to sleep. To give yourself the best change of following through with your morning promise to yourself, the night before you can set up your happy yoga or meditation space so you are looking forward to being in it. This could be as simple as having some comfy clothes ready to put on (alhough there is nothing wrong with yoga in your PJs!), rolling out the mat, having some candles or incense nearby ready to light, having a cup out ready from some warm water or herbal tea or having a journal or paper ready if you want to write. That way the effort of getting set up is taken away and you can slip into your morning space easily.

If you have 10 minutes

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Start by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes and spend 1- 2 minutes connecting with the breath, deep inhales through the nose and slower exhales through the mouth. Check in with how you are feeling and set an intention for the practice or your day ahead.

Do some warm up stretches by sweeping arms overhead and bend to each side twice, then gently twist to look over each shoulder with one hand behind you. Reach both arms forward for a seated forward bend. Come to table top and do 4 rounds of cat and cow or tiger breathing.

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Find a neutral back, keep the tummy pulled in and do alternate arm and leg raises, keeping the spine long, 4 on each side.

Move to child pose for two breaths and then lift the hips high into downward dog for 4 breaths.

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Step your right foot forward and ground the back heal and rise up into warrior 1 for 4 breaths. Knee over ankle, dropping into the pelvis, opening the hips. Then open up into warrior 2 for 4 breaths. Feel strong for the day ahead.

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Come back to the ground and step back into downward dog and repeat warrior 1 and 2 on the left side, finishing back in downward dog.

Step the feet to the top of the mat into a forward bend then sweep up into mountain pose. You can move into tree pose with the sole of your foot on the inside of the lower leg, thigh or half lotus and reach the arms up to the sky. Feel connected to the Earth beneath you and hold for 4 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

With the feet hip width apart slowly come to a yogi squat and hold for 4 breaths. Sit back and lie down on the back.

Bend you knees with the soles of the feet firmly on the ground, palms down fingers grazing ankles, raise the hips and find bridge pose. You can support you bum with your hands or a block, or interlace your hands underneath. Hold for 4 breaths

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Hug your knees to your chest and then raise the legs up for happy baby pose, grabbing your ankles and rocking side to side, bringing fresh blood to the brain..

Relax in Savasana or reclining butterfly with the soles of the feet connected and knees falling away for 2 minutes or longer if you can. Focus on the breath and the intention you set, and now would be a good time to listen to a guided meditation.

If you have 20 minutes

Follow the same warm up stretches and meet in downward dog. From here step to the top of the mat into mountain pose standing tall, shoulders relaxed, connecting with the ground below.

We can move through 6 rounds of surya namaskar, sun salutations, which as the name suggests welcomes the sun rise, inviting warmth and light into the body as well as warming all the muscles and joints after resting overnight.

There are variations, I tend to follow this sequence, a tweak on surya namaskar A.

How doing Surya Namaskar daily can help in weight loss
  • Mountain pose
  • Reach up high
  • Standing forward bend
  • Flat back, half way lift
  • Standing forward bend
  • Step right foot back, low lunge
  • High plank
  • Lower down
  • Cobra
  • Downward dog
  • Right foot forward, low lunge
  • Standing forward bend
  • Flat back, half way lift
  • Standing forward bend
  • Sweep the arms up high
  • Mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.

From here, pick up in the warrior poses and follow the rest of the previous sequence, spending a little longer in meditation if you can.

If you have 30 minutes

And if you have longer I’ve put together a 30 minute morning Hatha flow practice. Have a beautiful day ahead!

Published by Homyumyoga

Writer, yoga teacher and with a background in book publishing I love the power of the written word to inspire us to think deeply about the world we live in.

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