5 Simple Yoga Poses To Start Your Morning Out With Energy & Ease

Yoga Instructor and Motivational Speaker By Margeaux House
Yoga Instructor and Motivational Speaker
Margeaux House is a yoga instructor, lifestyle/wellness blogger, and motivational speaker.
yoga morning stretches

Whether you woke up on the wrong side of the bed or you just like to get your body moving in the morning, taking a few light, easy stretches first thing is a great way to get energized.

And since you've just woken up, it's a good idea to take it slow, make it mindful—and while you're at it—set an intention for the day ahead. Here are five simple stretches to take as soon as you're ready to start your morning.

Summary

Time: 10 minutes
Equipment: Mat (optional)
Instructions: Move from one stretch to the next, as directed.

1. Wide-angle seated forward fold (upavistha konasana)

wide angle seated forward fold yoga pose

wide angle seated forward fold

Image by Margeaux House / Margeaux House

How to:

  1. Begin seated with a straight spine and your legs out in front of you (also known as staff pose).
  2. Lean back slightly and swing your legs open to form a 90-degree angle with your hips in the center. As you readjust your posture to come back to a straight spine, open the legs a little wider if you can. (Sometimes it can help to have a folded blanket or thin cushion under your bottom.)
  3. Rotate your thighs outward so the outer thighs are on the floor and knees are pointing up. Press through the balls of the feet.
  4. Keeping your legs firm and still and your spine straight, begin to walk your hands down the floor between your legs.
  5. Hinge from the hips as you maintain the integrity of your spine. Don't try to overextend if it means you start collapsing into the waist. Keeping the legs engaged will help you leverage the fold.
  6. If you wish, you can grab each foot (pictured above), or keep the arms where they are.
  7. As you breathe, with every inhale, make space in your hips and hamstrings, and on the exhale, stretch a bit deeper.
  8. Keep breathing and hold the stretch for one minute or longer. Exit on an inhale by coming back to staff pose with a straight spine.
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2. Standing forward fold (uttanasana)

standing forward fold yoga posa

standing forward fold

Image by Margeaux House / Margeaux House

How to:

  1. Begin standing in mountain pose with feet hips-width apart.
  2. On an exhale with hands on your hips (if it helps you), begin hinging at the hips as if your torso was being pulled from your hips.
  3. With spine and legs straight, reach down as far as you can—whether that's to the floor, touching your shins, or somewhere in between. You can take a slight bend in the knees to help lengthen out the low back if you need to.
  4. Send your hips up as you reach your torso down, turning the thighs inward slightly. Draw the belly up and in.
  5. As you hold the stretch, make space with every inhale, and sink a little deeper with every exhale.
  6. Hold for one minute or longer. To exit, begin rising up slowly on an inhale, rounding your spine vertebra by vertebra, with the chin coming up last. Tuck your tailbone slightly at the top to come back into mountain pose.
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3. Ragdoll (uttanasana variation)

ragdoll yoga pose

ragdoll yoga pose

Image by Margeaux House / Margeaux House

How to:

  1. Begin standing in mountain pose with feet hips-width apart.
  2. Come into a forward fold (as explained above).
  3. When you've found your edge and can't go any deeper, allow the top half of the body to hang heavy and find a generous bend in your knees.
  4. Lay the stomach on top of the thighs as you grab opposite elbows.
  5. Release your head and neck.
  6. Shift your weight into the balls of your feet and tilt the hips up as the backs of your legs extend.
  7. Shake out the head and neck, and rock your arms around in any way that feels good, holding for one minute or longer. Breathe, finding more depth with every exhale.
  8. Exit the same way you do for forward fold: rising up slowly on an inhale, rounding your spine vertebra by vertebra, with the chin coming up last. Tuck your tailbone slightly at the top to come back into mountain pose.
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4. Cross-legged forward fold (uttanasana variation)

cross legged forward fold yoga pose

cross legged forward fold

Image by Margeaux House / Margeaux House

How to:

  1. Begin standing in mountain pose with feet hips-width apart.
  2. On an inhale, cross the left leg over the right.
  3. On an exhale, hinge forward from the hips as you do in a normal forward fold, sending the hips up as you lengthen the backs of the legs.
  4. Take a bend in the knees if you need to, and try to touch the floor. Focus on extending out of the lower back.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds or more.
  6. On an inhale, remaining in the fold, uncross and cross opposite legs, so your right is over the left. Repeat the fold on the opposite side.
  7. To exit, uncross the legs and come back up to standing, vertebra by vertebra.
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5. Cat-cow (bitilasana marjaryasana)

yoga cow pose warm up

Cow Pose Yoga Asana

Image by Margeaux House / Margeaux House

How to:
  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Engage your core slightly so your spine is straight. Gaze is down and slightly forward, in front of your hands.
  3. When you're ready, on an inhale, begin tilting your tailbone up, releasing your stomach toward the ground and eventually lifting your head and gaze upward.
  4. As you inhale, feel every vertebra in your spine stretching one by one, leading with the tailbone and your head coming up last. This is cow pose.
  5. On your exhale, starting at the tailbone again, begin to tuck it down as you squeeze the air out of your core.
  6. As the stretch reaches your upper back and shoulders, press into the ground with your hands, rounding your shoulders and hollowing out the upper back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest. This is cat pose.
  7. Inhale back to cow pose, leading with the tailbone and articulating the spine with the breath.
  8. Breathe through at least 10 rounds of each, or as many as it takes for your spine to feel looser, coming back to center when you're done.

How you choose to start your morning will ripple all throughout the day—why not take a few juicy stretches to get the ball rolling? You could even do the first two stretches while you're still in bed. Once you're done stretching it out, you'll be more than ready to tackle the rest of your morning routine.

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