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Looking to jumpstart your day with some yoga? Incorporating a morning yoga practice is great for beginners and advanced yogis alike, and just 10 minutes every morning can make all the difference.
If you are a morning person, it can be relatively easy to start the habit of stepping on your mat right when you wake up. But for yogis who prefer to sleep in, it may take a few tips to get you started and make it your morning routine.
Is it Okay to Practice Yoga Every Morning?
Yes, it is! Unlike physical activities like HIIT or Bootcamp workouts, yoga is safe to practice every single day— and many yogis do so. There are many benefits to having a regular and consistent yoga practice, and there are lots of yogis who have made a daily, morning yoga practice a part of their everyday routine.
As with any type of physical activity, it is always important to listen to your body. So if you have set a goal to practice every single morning, but one morning you wake up and your body feels a little sore, listen to your body. You might skip that morning, or take a slower, more restorative yoga practice that morning.
If you choose not to step on your mat everyday, but instead practice a few times a week, you are still absolutely reaping the benefits of your yoga practice. It is better to practice 10 minutes every day or every other day, than one hour every two weeks. Consistency is key to feel the benefits of your yoga practice.
The Benefits of Practicing Yoga in the Morning
In many traditional practices in India, yogis would practice yoga early in the morning to start their day. In the West, there are yoga classes at all times of the day, catering to people with different schedules and needs.
However, stepping on your mat right at beginning of your day holds many benefits. Instead of dragging yourself out of bed and making your breakfast while you are half asleep, it can be beneficial to start with breathing, mindfulness, and yoga asana.
When you practice yoga in the morning, you:
- Start a healthy routine
- Regulate your sleep patterns
- Boost your metabolism
- Increase your focus
- Become more mindful throughout the day
- Tone and strengthen your muscles
- Reduce stress
Tips for Practicing Yoga in the Morning
If you aren’t exactly a morning person, but are looking to add a morning yoga practice to your daily routine, there are a few things that you can do to make it a little easier. It can be tempting to hit the snooze button and sleep a little bit more before getting up for work, but these tips can make that early morning Sun Salutation much easier.
- Get enough rest the night before: If you find yourself scrolling Instagram until the wee hours of the morning, it can be a struggle to wake up feeling fresh and ready to step on your mat. Give yourself the amount of sleep that you know you need so that you wake up feeling ready for your flows. It is a good idea to not use electronics right before bed, and to avoid caffeine later in the day if it affects your body. It also may be useful to try sleep-tracking apps to help you regulate your sleep.
- Prepare the night before: You have just woken up and you can’t remember where you placed your yoga mat and your yoga clothes are still in the dryer. It seems easier to roll over and press the snooze button instead of getting up to practice. Make things a little easier on yourself by setting up everything you need the night before. Roll out your yoga mat and lay out your yoga clothes so that all you need to do is hop out of bed, change, and step on your mat.
- Take a moment for yourself before stepping on your mat: If your first instinct is to reach for your phone and check your email right after your alarm goes off, try to put your phone down and take a breath instead. Stay in that relaxed space with a clear mind before going into your yoga practice. You have the rest of your day to check your email and go online, so give yourself a few moments before your practice and during your practice to unplug.
- Hydrate and replenish: It may feel really good to go from your bed straight onto your mat, but some yogis prefer to have a light snack or some water before beginning practice. Take what you need before you practice, but try to keep it light so that you aren’t moving with a full stomach. Water, a handful of almonds, or some spoonfuls of yogurt are great choices before you practice. After you practice, make sure that you hydrate and fill your stomach with healthy, and energizing foods to start your day.
- Listen to your body: Perhaps you have your morning yoga routine down to a T and you practice every single morning. But maybe today you woke up and weren’t feeling quite up to it. It is extremely important to listen to your body and give yourself what you need. If you are feeling tired, it is totally fine to hit the snooze button and sleep in instead of doing your morning asanas.
What is the Best Type of Yoga to Practice in the Morning?
Are you the yogi that hits the snooze button 5 times before getting up for your yoga practice? Then perhaps and energizing and sweaty yoga flow is the best kind of practice for your to jump start your day and get your energy flowing. Yoga can be a great way to get your energy moving and your body warmed up for your day ahead.
Some yogis prefer to start the day a more athletic type of yoga practice, while others prefer a gentle and more mindful approach. We all have different bodies, different experiences, and different lives that we lead, so it is very important to listen to what type of yoga practice you need in the morning.
Perhaps you are a morning person, and prefer to ease into your day with slow breathing and gentle poses. In that case, slower ore more restorative practice may be the best for you. Look into Hatha yoga, Restorative yoga, or Yin yoga to start your day.
If you prefer to get your blood pumping and sweat flowing, the perfect yoga practice would be one that raises your heart rate and get your joints and body moving. You can try Hot yoga, Vinyasa yoga, or Ashtanga yoga.
As always, listen to your body and honor what feels the best for you. There may be days that you feel like a slower practice to start your day, and other days where you want to be flowing with your breath. When you wake up in the morning, check in with what you need and practice what feels good in your body that day.
Is it Better to Practice Yoga in the Morning or Evening?
There is no right or wrong time to practice yoga— it all depends on your body and what feels the best for you! You may find that because of your work or school schedule, it is easier to fit in your practice in the morning. Or it may possibly to wind down your day with a relaxing yoga practice. Find the best time to practice all depends on what feels good in your body and works with your schedule.
Some yogis are not morning people and would prefer to practice after a long day, while other yogis prefer to jump start their day with chaturangas and downward facing dogs. Try practicing at different times of the day to see which times feel the best in your body. Keep in mind that when practicing late at night, it is always important to wind down your practice safely so that you aren’t too energized to sleep!
10-Minute Morning Yoga Routine for Beginners
Below is a quick 10 morning yoga sequence you can practice every day! It is split into four sections: Warm-Up, Sun Salutations, Wake Up Flow, and Cool Down.
Get the printable for this sequence by signing up for our free resource library below:
- Start at the center of your mat with your knees apart mat-width distance and big toes touching.
- Crawl your hands forward to the top of your mat and rest your forehead on the mat.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears, bring a slight bend to your elbows, and sink your hips down to your heels. Stay for 5 breaths.
- Make your way to easy pose, crossing your ankles and sitting down on the mat with your hands on your knees.
- On your inhale, lift your arms up overhead and on your exhale, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor and take a side bend over to the right.
- Roll your left shoulder back, broaden through your collar, and soften the shoulders away from your ears.
- Straighten out your left arm and have your left palm facing down to the floor and your fingertips reaching toward the left side of the room.
- You can keep your eyes closed, gaze up at your left fingertips, or down toward your mat. Stay for 3 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Extended Cat-Cow Pose
- Begin on your hands and knees and check that your fingers are spread wide under your shoulders, and your knees are directly underneath your hips.
- Lift your right leg up and extend your leg to the back of the room. Square your hips and flex your toes so that your toes point to the floor. Shift your weight to the right palm and lift your left hand off the mat.
- Straighten your arm and each your fingertips forward to the front of the room.
- On your inhale, lengthen your leg back and your arm forward, and on your exhale, bend your knee and elbow and try to get your elbow and knee to touch. Repeat 3 times on each side.
Downward Facing Dog
- From your hands and knees, walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide on the mat.
- Curl your toes under and lift your knees and hips off the mat. Lift your hips up toward the ceiling, push the mat away from you, and lengthen your spine.
- Feel free to bend your knees here and keep your heels off the floor, but work on finding length in your spine and your side body. Stay for 5 breaths.
- Walk your feet forward to the top of your mat and take your feet apart hips width distance. Allow your upper body to hang heavy and reach for opposite elbows.
- Bend your knees deeply and allow your head to hang heavy and the shoulders to relax away from your ears. Feel your stomach resting on your thighs, and feel free to add some movement with the head, neck, and shoulders.
- You can keep holding on to opposite elbows, or you can interlace your fingers behind your head or body, or allow your fingertips to graze the mat. Stay for 5 breaths.
2. Sun Salutation:
Below is a modified version of Sun Salutation. Feel free to take this or change the variations as you like! You can check out our full Sun Salutation tutorial which goes in depth on the sequence and variations.
- From Ragdoll, bend your knees and slowly round your body up to stand tall in Mountain pose.
- Inhale and lift your arms up overhead, and exhale to swan dive forward in a forward fold. You can bend your knees on the way down, but keep your belly button drawing inward and engage your core.
- Inhale to half way lift. Look forward, place your fingertips on your shins or the ground. Lengthen your spine and lift your chin away from your chest.
- Exhale and bend your knees, plant your palms flat on the mat and step back into Plank pose. In Plank pose, check that your hands underneath your shoulders, core is engaged, and legs are strong.
- Inhale in plank and exhale to lower your knees, chest and chin to the ground. Keep your elbows hugging in close to the sides of your body.
- Inhale into Cobra pose. Keep your shoulders away from the ears, your elbows slightly bent, and your heart open.
- Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
- Inhale to lift up onto your tiptoes, bend your knees, and look forward. On your exhale, step or jump to the top of your mat.
- Inhale to half-lift and exhale for a forward fold.
- Inhale to rise up to stand. Exhale to bring your hands to heart center.
- Take one round of a Sun Salutation, or 3 rounds, if you have the time.
3. Wake- Up Flow:
Three Legged Dog
- From Downward Dog, inhale to lift your right foot off the mat and extend your leg up and back to come into Three Legged Dog. Lift through your leg as much as you can without causing your hips to become uneven.
- Square your hips and flex your foot so that your toes point to the floor.
- Exhale to step your foot forward to the top of your mat.
- Frame your foot with both of your hands, bend your right knee so that it is parallel to the floor, and lift your left heel off the mat.
- Engage your back leg and lift the back of your knee up toward the ceiling.
Low Lunge Twist
- Keep your left fingertips on the mat and lift your right hand up to the sky with your fingertips pointing straight up.
- Roll your right shoulder back and feel the gentle twist in your spine. Stay for 3 breaths.
- Root your back heel down to the floor and begin to rise up into Warrior II.
- Your right fingertips are reaching to the front of the room, and your left fingertips are reaching to the back of the room. Check that your upper body is in the center, shoulders are relaxed, and legs are strong. Gaze over your right fingertips and stay for 3 breaths.
- Stay with your Warrior II legs but begin to reach your right fingertips forward, back and up, feeling a side stretch in the right side of your body.
- Lift through your chest as you come into a mild backbend. Remember to keep your core engaged!
- Stay for your inhale and on your exhale, windmill your hands down to the floor and come back into your Low Lunge.
From your Low Lunge, you can choose to travel through a vinyasa or come straight into your Downward Dog. Repeat on the left side.
4. Cool Down:
Reclined Spinal Twist
- Make your way onto your back and hug both knees into your chest.
- Take your arms out into a T-shape and relax your knees over to your right, while you look over your left shoulder.
- Stay for 3 breaths on each side.
- Lie down on your back and relax your entire body to the ground.
- Allow your palms to face up and close your eyes. Stay for at least 2 minutes, or longer if you have the time.
What breathing exercises can I do before my morning practice? It is always nice to start practice with awareness on your breath. Start with a few rounds of Ujayyi breath in a seated position, and you can move onto Alternate Nostril Breathing before starting your physical practice.
Can I eat right after my morning yoga practice? Yes, definitely! It is recommend that you stay away from a heavy meal right before practice, but it is very likely that you will feel hungry after your morning practice! Fill up with nutritious and energizing foods after your morning yoga.
Mariel is a writer and NYC-based yoga teacher. She has been teaching for a decade and is a life-long student of the ancient practice.