A Yoga Sequence to Start Your Day

One of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing and develop a morning routine.  Routines help your body to operate optimally and can set you up for a successful day ahead.  Studies have proven that working out or exercising in the morning can be one of the best morning rituals as your testosterone levels are highest in the early hours of the day, giving you that extra boost to practice or hit the gym.  This simple and effective 10 minute yoga and meditation sequence is designed to help you dust off the “fuzz” that builds up between the joints overnight, increase circulation to the body, stimulate your digestive system, and set a daily intention.  Intentions can be very effective in setting up your day the way you would like it to go. 

Sure, you may get hit the occasional bump in the road but you’ll be physically and mentally prepared to take on those challenges with more focus and ease after practicing and meditating in the morning.

Begin by sitting in an easy cross-legged position

Drop your left ear to your left shoulder and begin dropping the chin in towards the chest until the right ear comes to the right shoulder.  Continue with these half circles until your body starts to take part in the action and you begin to do full circles with the head, moving that same rotation all the way down the spine.  This might feel like you’re hoola hooping!

On an inhale circle your arms overhead, lower your left hand to the floor and lean to the left with your right arm reaching up above.  Repeat on the other side.

Reach both arms up overhead, lower your right hand to your left knee and your left hand behind you so you come into a gentle, seated twist.  Repeat on the other side.

Come onto all fours and melt the hips back into childs pose.  With your forehead touching the surface beneath you, take a deep breath into your back body and a long sigh out through the mouth.  Allow your mind to focus on the connection of your third eye (ajna chakra) to the floor.  This is the time to set your intention.

An intention might be, ‘today is going to be a good day, I set my intention to limit the number of distractions and focus on being fully present with my tasks and peers’.  It can also be as simple as, ‘today I set the intention to breath deeper, drink more water, find joy in everything I do’ you get to choose here an intention that is meaningful for you.

Come into downward facing dog, begin to pedal out the feet (bending one knee as the opposing heal drops to the ground), do this as much as you like until the hamstrings and shoulders begin to warm up and body begins to awaken.

Shift forward into a plank pose, lower the knees to the ground, slowly lower all the way down to the ground, lift your chest off the floor coming into cobra pose.  Melt the chest back down and shift back into childs pose.  Remember your intention.

From childs pose, step to the top of your mat into a forward fold.  Open the moon roof to your mind and let any extraneous thoughts empty through the crown of the head, creating space in the mind and body.  Bend the knees as much as needed here.

Roll all the way up to stand, circle your arms wide until your palms touch overhead and bring your hands through your heart center.  Stop when the hands reach prayer in front of the chest.  Feel your feet press against the ground and remember to stand with confidence today.

Circle the arms overhead until the palms touch, open the arms wide and fold forward over the legs, come back into downward dog and repeat the sequence…shift forward into plank, lower the knees, lower onto the belly, lift the chest, melt back down, ending with childs pose.

Repeat this surya namaskar 3-5x until the body feel spacious and mind feels focused.

Come into a comfortable seat.  Allow the palms to face the sky, back of the hands on the thighs or knees, a gesture of willingness to receive blessings from the universe today.

Close the eyes and begin kapalbhati pranayama, aka breath of fire.  This breathing exercise is excellent for stimulating the digestive system and toning the abdomen.  It might feel silly at first but after a few rounds you’ll begin to feel the difference! 

To practice this breath you “pump” the belly, pulling the naval center in towards the spine every time you exhale and releasing the abdomen every time you inhale.  You will practice this action quickly and repetitiously for 1-3 minutes.  The action resembles a dog panting (without the tongue sticking out) or like you’re blowing out a candle (except faster and shorter exhales).  You can choose to breath through the mouth or nose, the nose being the traditional method but if you have the sniffles, breathing through the mouth will do.  This create ajni, or fire in the body.

After 1-3 minutes exhale all the air out, close the eyes and begin to visualize your spine growing tall, like a tree rooted into the ground from the sitting bones and lengthening through the crown of the head.

Bring your focus to the breath, to the sensation of the inhale and exhale as it expands the body and releases tension.  Remember your intention.  Then state this simple phrase, “Today is a good day.  Today I am grateful for (insert something here such as ‘my body, my life, the ability to practice yoga’, etc.)  You can state as many things as you like (the more the better!)  Reminding ourselves how fruitful life already is allows us to focus on the abundance that exists rather than the lack that the mind tends to fixate on.  When we focus on the good, that’s what grows.

I love this sequence because it’s short, sweet and enough.  I have a 4 month old daughter and oftentimes she demands my attention first thing in the morning.  Going through this quick sequence and meditations reminds me just how lucky I am to be a mom and be going through this process of self discovery.  From there, I can be the best and most present mom I can be.

If you would like to practice other sequences similar to this then download the YogaWakeUp app on your smartphone.  They have a variety of highly trained, wonderful teachers with morning sequences and meditations to help you start your day on a positive note!

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