If you struggle to carve out time for yoga, you might want to start a regular morning practice as part of your routine before the day has started rolling.
If your schedule is already packed, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier. You’ll love the feeling of starting your day with the mental clarity and body awareness that yoga offers, so I promise you won't even miss that extra bit of sleep.
After you discover you can consistently dedicate 15 minutes every morning to yoga, you may eventually find that 30 minutes (or even an hour!) is totally possible with a little readjustment to your daily habits.
Try this 15-minute yoga sequence to transform your morning routine. Stay in each pose for about a minute, unless otherwise noted.
If you have a little extra time in the morning, you can try adding on a few rounds of Sun Salutations to help you greet the day.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand on your mat with your hands by your side and feet hips-distance apart. Ground into the corners of your feet. Draw your shoulders away from your ears and closer together on your back. Lift through your heart. Stack your hips, ribcage and head in one vertical line.
Take 10 slow, gentle breaths. Begin to roll out your shoulders and neck.
Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
On an inhale, lift your arms over your head. Lift from the sides of your waist, stretch through your hands and fingertips for a classic "Good Morning" stretch. Look upward.
Take any free movement here to wake up your body.
After a few more breaths, exhale as you take the arms out behind you at 45 degrees. Fold forward by bending at the hips and extending the chest so the torso gets long. Release into a standing forward fold.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This is a great pose to let your spine decompress from a night spent laying on your back.
Take your palms or fingertips to the ground, or cross your forearms and hold opposite elbows with your hands. Relax your neck by letting your head hang heavy. If your hamstrings are tight or tender, bend your knees.
Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)
Keep your hand on the ground or place your palms against your shins. Inhale, lift your belly away from your thighs, making an upside-down L-shape on the mat.
Start by gazing down at the mat, lengthening your spine from its base at the sacrum, all the way through your neck. Then lift your gaze slightly without crunching the back of the neck.
Stay here for 3-to-5 breaths, imagining that your spine is lengthening with each inhalation.
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
With your last exhale, fold forward, take a slight bend in the knees and stretch your right foot back into a low lunge. Press into the ball of the foot with the toes facing the front of the mat.
Place your hands on either side of your front foot. Use yoga blocks or two books of equal thickness, if your hands don’t comfortably reach the floor.
Check that your front knee is above your ankle. Lift the thigh of your extended leg toward the ceiling to straighten it. Press through the back heel, like you are trying to stomp a big button just below the lifted part of your foot. Gaze forward.
On an exhale, step the right foot forward to meet the left in Uttanasana and repeat on the other side.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit down and bring the soles of your feet together. Let your knees open up like a book. Feel grounded through the pelvis and light through the spine, imagining someone gently pulling you upward from the top of your head with a string.
Cradle the outside of your feet with your hands. You can even massage the soles of the feet here with your thumbs. If you feel discomfort in the knees, use two pillows or rolled-up blankets between your thighs and the floor.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Extend your legs out in front of you. Take a moment to find a solid base, maybe scooting the flesh of your buttocks away from your sitting bones and toward the back of your mat. Sit on a folded blanket if it’s more comfortable.
Inhale, sit tall and slightly lift through the sternum. Exhale and fold your upper body toward your lower body. Take your hands to your feet, or to your lower legs. When you inhale, grow longer through the spine. When you exhale sink a little deeper.
Transition: Roll Like A Ball
Make yourself into a ball by bending your knees toward your chest and placing your hands on your shins and rock up and down on your spine a few times.
Roll Back And Up To Tabletop
On your last roll back, cross your ankles and roll all the way forward onto your knees to come to a tabletop position.
Stacking your shoulders over your wrists, make sure your knees are about hips-width distance apart. Reach forward through the crown of your head and send your tailbone long out in front of you. You can untuck the toes if it feels good on the tops of the feet.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
Maintaining your shoulder and hip alignment, strongly press out of the mat with your palms. Inhale, lift the chest and send your gaze and tailbone skyward.
Cat Pose (Marjaiasana)
Exhale, drop the tailbone and lift the upper back, taking weight out of your hands. Cycle through Cat and Cow 10-to-20 times, using your breath to cue your transitions.
Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
From tabletop, walk your hands to the front of your mat, extending your arms long. Keep your hips above your knees as you rest your forehead on the mat in between your arms. Imagine breathing into your upper back.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
From Puppy Pose, walk in your hands a couple of inches and lift your head. Lift your knees and send your hips up and back to Downward Dog.
Spread your fingers wide and press away from the ground with your hands. Draw your shoulders onto your back. Send your heels toward the ground.
Gallery courtesy of the author