This 10-Minute Yoga Sequence Is The Perfect Way To Start Your Day
It's no secret that establishing a regular yoga practice has many therapeutic benefits1 like improving mental health, promoting relaxation, plus increasing physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness.
For those reasons, yoga is a fantastic practice to kick off your morning. Whether you had a rough night sleeping or you're looking for a simple way to start your day, moving through a flow first thing in the a.m. is a great way to set a calm and positive tone.
If you're seeking to enhance your mornings and bring more mindfulness into your day, check out this quick and energizing 10-minute sequence I created.
Equipment: Yoga mat (optional)
Instructions: Using your breath, transition from one pose to the next, as directed.
Start your practice by setting your intention
I like to start every one of my practices and yoga classes by inviting myself and my students to set their intention for their day. If you're unsure of how to set an intention, a good way to do it is to start by saying "I am" and following up with a word that describes a feeling that resonates with you and how you want your day to go. For example, "I am happy," "I am healthy," or "I am at peace" are great and simple intentions to start with if you're feeling a little stuck on where to begin.
Thunderbolt pose (vajrasana)
- Begin by sitting in a kneeling position. Bring your knees and ankles together and place your feet in line with your legs. The soles of your feet should face upward with your big toes touching.
- Exhale as you begin to sit back on your legs, allowing your sitz bones to rest on your heels. (If this pose hurts your knees, feel free to place a folded blanket or pillow underneath your thighs for support.)
- Straighten your spine and place your hands on your knees, close your eyes, and begin to breathe in and out slowly for five deep breaths.
Cat/Cow Pose (marjaryasana/bitilasana)
- From vajrasana, move straight into tabletop position, coming onto your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Your fingertips should be facing the front of your mat, and set your gaze on the floor with your head in a neutral position.
- Exhale and round your spine up toward the ceiling, dropping your head. Draw your abdominals in toward your spine and keep your hips lifted and your shoulders in the same position.
- Inhale and uncurl your spine as you slowly lift your chest forward and your sitz bones up toward the ceiling, creating an arch in your spine.
- Close your eyes or set your gaze forward. Slowly flow between these two poses for five rounds.
Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
- From marjaryasana, inhale, curl your toes under, grounding them into the floor, exhale and push your sitz bones up toward the ceiling so that you're in an inverted V shape.
- Lengthen your hips away from your ribs to elongate the spine. Set your gaze at your navel or in between your feet.
- If you'd like to further explore in this pose, cycle your legs in and out by coming onto your toes on one foot and pressing through the heel on the other, then switching sides. Remain in this pose for five breaths.
Three-legged downward-facing dog (eka pada adho mukha svanasana)
- On an inhale, raise your left leg off the ground, keeping your hips leveled with one another.
- Continue to press the left heel toward the floor as you extend through the raised left leg and crown of your head.
- Feel free to explore in this pose as well by putting a bend in the lifted knee, allowing your hips to open off to the side of your mat. Stay in this pose for three to five breaths.
Low lunge (anjaneyasana)
- On an exhale, plant your left foot in the middle of your mat, allowing your hands to frame the foot. Continue to breathe in and out as you lower the right leg down onto your mat.
- Sweep your arms up overhead, with your hands turning inward to each other and your fingers sparked toward the ceiling, as you gaze at a point in front of you.
- Stay here for five to eight deep breaths.
Big toe pose (padangusthasana)
- Plant your hands down into the mat, framing the foot, and step that foot up to meet the front foot, allowing the crown of the head to drop toward the mat.
- Put a slight bend in the knee to allow the body to ease into this stretch. If you're able to do so, wrap the peace fingers (index and middle fingers) around your big toes, keeping a slight bend in the arms.
- If this variation is a little challenging, allow your hands to hang or reach for the opposite elbows. Stay in this pose for five deep inhales and exhales.
Halfway lift (ardha uttanasana)
- Release your fingers from your toes and place them either on your mat or rest them on your shins.
- Draw your shoulder blades down your spine as you look straight ahead.
- Keeping a flat back, stay in this pose for three to five deep breaths.
Yogi squat (malasana)
- From ardha uttanasana, step your feet apart about hip-width distance, bringing your heels in toward the body and your toes facing the top corners of your mat.
- On an exhale, begin to lower your tailbone down toward your mat and lean your torso forward so it fits snugly between your thighs as you press the weight of your body into your heels.
- Press your elbows against the insides of your knees, bringing your palms together in anjali mudra, or prayer pose. Remain in this pose for five to eight deep breaths.
- From malasana, release your hands down onto the mat spacing them shoulder-width distance apart.
- Step your feet to the back of your mat, placing the weight onto your toes. Your hands should be firmly planted into your mat, while your shoulders are stacked over your wrists.
- Keep your legs strong, straight, and engaged and your feet square with your help pointing upward.
- Aim to hold this pose for five to eight deep breaths, giving your body permission to lower the knees to the mat if this pose becomes challenging.
Upward-facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)
- From plank pose, inhale and lower down to your mat. Bend your elbows, placing your hands flat on your mat on either side of your chest, as you keep the elbows pulled in toward the body.
- Your legs should be separated about hip-width distance, as you flip the tops of your feet onto your mat. Keep your torso and hips lifted off the floor, as you contract your thighs and tuck your tailbone toward your pubis.
- Lift through the top of your chest, fully extending your arms and creating an arch in your back from your upper torso. Draw your shoulders down your back, as you gaze slightly upward. Stay in this pose for three to five deep breaths.
Shawna Davis is a wellness journalist and the creator of the wellness lifestyle blog, Froing and Flowing. Beyond the blog, she is a certified yoga instructor, wife, dog mama and is a natural hair enthusiast that’s passionate about health, wellness and beauty.