Technically, more of a sequence than a pose, gently rolling your spine between cat-cow pose is a great way to wake up your body, release your spine after a night’s sleep, warm your core muscles and open your heart.
This classic asana is fantastic first thing in the morning. It stretches the whole back of your body, including your spine, hamstrings and calves. It’s intense enough to strengthen your arms and shoulders, but not so strenuous that it stresses your body so early in the day. The gentle inversion stimulates circulation and increases blood flow to your brain, energizing you for the day ahead.
A wonderful stretch for the hip flexors and psoas muscles, this asana opens the chest, ribcage and shoulders. Low lunge is a preemptive counter pose for the classic “office” posture - seated with shoulders rounded. It lets you set a powerful intention for your day to approach whatever faces you head on and with your heart open. (Learn more in Keeping an Open Mind in the Boardroom with Yoga.)
This commanding, rooted asana helps to set your stance on this earth. It fires up the muscles of the legs and thighs, grounding and connecting you. The alignment of the arms with the gaze along the front middle finger symbolizes taking aim, so set whatever you want from the day in your sights. It’s a great idea to visualize any goals or intentions for the day on the end of your front middle finger. Then use the empowering warrior energy of this asana to cultivate the strength and focus you need to manifest them. (Read more in Cultivating Power in Your Practice with Warrior Two Pose.)
If you have no time for anything else, simply taking a few minutes first thing in the morning to sit and meditate on your breath. It gives you a precious opportunity to look within, center and ground yourself before the stimulation and excitement of the day begins.
Whatever asanas you choose for your morning practice, remember to go gently, allowing your body to warm and awaken gradually. Start your day as you mean it to go on, using yoga to tap into both your strength and compassion. (Learn more in How to Create Your Own Unique Sadhana.)