Morning workouts can help you start off the day feeling more energetic, stronger, and in an overall better mood. Best of all, you don’t need to push yourself through rigorous sweat drenching exercise. A short morning yoga routine is all you need to help you feel at your best mentally and physically, helping you take on your day with confidence and energy.
In this blog I’ll cover:
- Benefits Of Yoga In The Morning
- Why Yoga? (Specific Benefits of Morning Yoga vs. Other Exercise)
- The 8 Best Yoga Poses For The Morning
- How To Make Morning Yoga A Habit? (Building The Habit)
- How Can I Get Started? (3 Morning Workout Videos Included)
Benefits Of Yoga In The Morning
First off, a morning yoga routine wakes up and mobilizes your back, hips, and shoulders to rid them of morning stiffness, leaving you feeling limber and strong. This helps you start and end your day with better posture and balance, which ultimately helps to reduce those nagging aches like low-back pain or neck stiffness.
It’s not just physical benefits either. Morning yoga directly affects your nervous system, leaving you feeling more energetic – you might not even need coffee anymore! This energizing effect improves your cognitive ability, including your memory and executive functions (mental flexibility and self-control)
To sum it up — morning yoga can help you start your day off feeling better both physically and mentally, so you can have a productive and enjoyable day.
Why Yoga? (Specific Benefits of Morning Yoga vs. Other Exercise)
Any exercise can wake you up in the morning, but yoga blends breathing and body awareness with strength and flexibility to help you bring energy and alertness to both mind and body, which isn’t something that other exercises strive to do.
On the other hand, you might not feel up to more intense or high-impact exercise in the morning. You may notice that if you do end up training hard in the morning that you’ll crash later on in the day, or have a lowered ability to concentrate.
Yoga is a great way to slowly wake up your body without depleting your energy before the day even begins.
Why Specific Yoga Poses Increase Energy?
Certain yoga poses naturally increase your energy levels, because they directly activate your sympathetic nervous system (the flight or fight response), preparing your body to defend itself. Poses that require you to balance, back-bend, and other chest-opening movements help to immediately boost your energy, because they put your body in a vulnerable position — triggering flight or fight.
This natural response evolved from our ancestors needing a boost of energy to evade predators. However, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll get attacked by say… a squirrel in your living room. But your body responds to these positions anyways, and you can use this to your advantage when preparing for your day.
Yoga Is Convenient
Exercising with just your body and a few square feet of space is just really convenient. Here’s a list of all the reasons why yoga is one of the most convenient ways to exercise:
- No equipment required
- Can be done anywhere
- No travel time
- Little to no warm-up required
- You won’t exhaust your body or your central nervous system
Other Forms Of Exercises Can Be Too Draining Or Intense
Crossfit, swimming, running, or weight training might be too exhausting for you in the morning, causing you to lose your motivation and energy earlier in the day than you want. And I know for me, an intense workout is the last thing I want to do first thing in the morning.
Yoga, on the other hand, helps to promote calmness, and although yoga can be challenging at times — your main focus should be on your slow controlled breathing. This mixture of breathwork and strength training helps you stay energized throughout the whole day, not just the morning.
Note: If you doing any of the above exercises in the morning and you feel great as a result, don’t stop doing it! I just know that personally I tend to crash with a more intense workout in the morning. I prefer to save it for the evening, and focus on more mindful movement like yoga in the morning.
The 8 Best Yoga Poses For The Morning
The best morning yoga poses are ones that energize you by activating your sympathetic nervous system (the flight or fight response) to boost the body’s alertness, waking up your mind, and waking up your body by pumping extra blood to the muscles.
Exercise 1: Tree Pose
Tree pose challenges your balance as it stretches your shoulders, thighs, and chest. It’s a great pose for waking up, since it engages your core and legs to balance.
- Stand in Mountain pose with big toes touching and heels about 1in (2.5cm) apart.
- Lift your right leg and press your foot into the left thigh or shin (but avoid the knee), toes pointed down. You can use your hand to help position the foot securely on your leg.
- Extend your arms overhead in a V-shape, palms facing forward.
- Squeeze your right glute to rotate right hip outward and open the hip. Keep hips facing forward.
- Reach tailbone toward the floor to engage core and lengthen lower back.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the torso, and exhaling to increase engagement of core, thighs, and hips.
- Repeat on the other side.
Exercise 2: Standing Backbend
A standing backbend gently brings movement back into your spine as it also activates your sympathetic nervous system for energy.
- Stand in Mountain pose with your big toes touching and your heels about 1in (2.5cm) apart.
- Reach your arms overhead, press palms together, and interlace fingers, pointing the index fingers up.
- Inhale as you slowly look up at the ceiling, then exhale as you bend backward.
- Keep hips and core engaged, and maintain length in your spine.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the spine and lift the sternum higher, and exhaling as you bend deeper and reach further back.
- Bend back only as far as it feels comfortable and core remains engaged. Do not let your lower back arch.
- This pose is a constant push and pull between lengthening the spine and deepening the arch. As you inhale, lengthen the spine and grow taller. As you exhale, increase the degree of the backbend and reach further back.
Exercise 3: Bridge
Bridge pose strengthens your glutes and core while correcting your posture and stretching the chest. This is a fantastic pose for preventing back-pain further into your day.
- Lie on your back and rest your arms at your sides, palms facing up.
- Bend your knees and plant your feet hip-width distance apart, no more than a few inches away from glutes.
- Tighten abs and engage core as you prepare to lift your hips.
- On an exhale, lift your hips slowly but firmly away from the floor.
- Squeeze the hips, glutes, and core to form a straight line from shoulders to knees.
- Reach your tailbone toward your knees to lengthen the spine.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lift your hips higher, and exhaling as you tighten your core.
Exercise 4: High Lunge
Your legs have some of the biggest muscles in your body, so by engaging them in a high lunge you can get that blood pumping! High lunge is also one of the best postures for fixing your posture and addressing some of the root causes low-back stiffness. As a balancing posture, it also helps to heighten your awareness. Did we mention it also works your hip mobility? There are few things this simple, but effective posture doesn’t do..
- Stand at the top of your mat with your feet about 6in (15cm) apart.
- Take a big step back with your left foot and rise up onto the ball of the left foot.
- Bend your right knee until the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Press the right heel into the floor to engage your right glutes and hip, and level your hips.
- Squeeze your legs toward each other to engage inner thighs and core.
- Reach your arms straight overhead, keeping the ribs drawn in to prevent chest from splaying open.
- If front knee passes ankle, shift front foot forward, keeping shin perpendicular to floor.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the spine and maintain the stance, and exhaling as you sink deeper into the lunge.
- Use your breathing to work deeper into the pose. After the first 2 or 3 breaths, it is easier to sink deeper while maintaining good technique, so push yourself deeper the longer you hold it.
Exercise 5:Standing Side Bend
This pose strengthens your shoulders and core as you lean into the side bend, increasing the mobility of your spine laterally. This side bend is amazing for releasing tension in the hips and preventing back pain.
- Stand in Mountain pose with your big toes nearly touching and your heels about 1in (2.5cm) apart.
- Interlace your fingers overhead.
- Lock out your arms, and point your index fingers to the ceiling.
- Rotate your arms inward so your biceps face your ears.
- Press down into the heels and the balls of your feet.
- Make your body as tall as possible, then lean to the right with your upper body, hips lightly pressing in the opposite direction.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you get taller, and exhaling as you bend deeper.
Exercise 6: Cobra
Cobra helps to build the muscles in your back and also stretches and opens up your chest. This pose is essential for countering and preventing low-back pain from sitting for long periods of time.
- Lie on your stomach, and place your hands under your shoulders with your elbows pointing straight back, close to your sides.
- Spread your fingers wide and relax palms under your shoulders.
- Engage and rotate thighs inward so kneecaps point straight down and all toes are touching the floor.
- Squeeze your big toes, ankles, knees, and inner thighs toward each other.
- Press your pelvis and tops of feet into the floor.
- Inhale as you use your core (not arms) to lengthen spine forward and slightly lift your chest away from the floor.
- Press the crown of your head away from shoulders to look forward.
- Pull shoulder blades down and toward each other, squeeze elbows to sides, and use your hands to pull (not push) your body forward and up.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lift slightly higher, and exhaling as you increase engagement and maintain height.
Exercise 7: Side Angle
The side angle challenges your whole body to stretch, engage, and balance – waking you up and getting the blood pumping. This pose is especially effective because of its compound nature – it strengthens and opens your hips while pushing you to stretch your chest, and this combination is fantastic for building body awareness and increasing your energy.
- Start in Warrior 2 with your feet 4 to 5ft (1.25–1.5m) apart, your right foot perpendicular to the left, and front knee bent directly over the ankle.
- Extend arms outward, parallel to the floor and palms facing down. Square hips to the middle.
- Bend at the waist to move the torso over your bent leg.
- Reach your left arm toward the ceiling, palm facing forward, and extend right arm toward the ground.
- Tighten the left side of your body, lengthen your torso, and use your core to roll back the top shoulder and open chest.
- Turn your head to look up at hand.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lengthen the torso, and exhaling as you deepen the twist.
Exercise 8: Deep Squat (Arms Overhead!)
A deceptively challenging variation of the squat that works your whole body. You’ll have to engage your legs, core, and upper body to balance properly in this pose, heightening your awareness of your entire body to start your day.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing straight forward. (It’s okay to angle toes slightly outward at first, if needed.) Slightly arch your lower back.
- Raise arms as far as they can above your head, palms facing each other.
- Keeping your chest upright, slowly lower your hips down and back into a squat until hips are just below the knees.
- Press down firmly through your heels, the balls of your feet, and your toes.
- Drive knees outward to engage glutes. Keep pushing your arms above and behind you.
- Hold the posture, inhaling as you lift the chest and get taller, and exhaling as you sit deeper.
Want to Learn More About Proper Yoga Techniques?
Learning proper yoga techniques and muscle engagement doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, all of the photos and techniques above are from my book “Yoga Fitness for Men”. It’s a great comprehensive book that goes over how to execute the yoga postures you need for greater endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength. If you’re interested in the full-color, step-by-step photographic yoga book check it out HERE!
Here’s what you’ll find in this amazing beginner’s guide:
- 25 yoga workouts, and over 50 key postures so yoga can make you stronger, fitter, and more mobile.
- Visual modifications show you how to tailor the pose for your body.
- A dashboard for every post explains what you should and shouldn’t be feeling in your body while doing the pose.
- Workouts and multi-week programs tailored to your specific performance and health goals.
How To Make Morning Yoga A Habit? (Building The Habit)
The benefits of a good morning yoga routine should be apparent to you by now, but getting started and forming that consistent behavior can be challenging. Here are my tips and tricks from habit-forming science to help you get started.
First off, practice environment design, which means making it easier to start yoga in the morning and harder to reach the snooze button. This can be achieved by:
This sets you up to rewire the habit. Forming new habits can be hard, and it’s not only about “willpower” but rather structuring your life to make the positive behavior easier to do, and the “bad” behaviors harder to do. If you want to read more about habit science, then check out my blog about quitting junk food or watch my vlog about breaking habits.
How Can I Get Started?
If you’re a beginner, starting off a morning yoga routine can seem intimidating with new poses and ways of movement. Maybe you’re concerned about injuring yourself.
If you’re worried, don’t be! Man Flow Fitness offers instruction-focused video workouts to learn the postures safely and effectively – and believe or not – better than you would learn in-person at a studio! (Not to mention, no wasted time driving or expensive monthly memberships).
I’ve included a few fantastic morning routines for you right here. Check them out and give it a shot for yourself!!
Want to try my FREE 30-Day Morning Yoga Challenge? Click here to check it out on the Man Flow Yoga YouTube channel.
Looking for A Program?
If you enjoyed the blog and videos and you’re interested in starting a healthy yoga routine, Man Flow Yoga offers on-demand structured programs that complement your lifestyle and schedule. Click here to try our 7 day challenge!