If you’re brand-new to the yoga world, you may be a little intimidated by the idea of starting a home yoga practice all by yourself. Of course, having a teacher around to guide and correct you is a great setup for learning the basics, but yoga is about more than striving for perfection. Use your yoga practice in a way that works best for you and helps you experience the benefits you’re looking for.
Flowing to start your morning is a fantastic use of the practice, and a great way to get centered before taking on all of life’s challenges. Though most people don’t have the time to hit an hour-long class at the beginning of the day, engaging in a 15-minute home practice is often enough to start the morning on the right foot.
Most morning practices are gentle, yet still energizing. This helps guide you into your day and wake you up so you arrive wherever you need to go with energy. With a combination of breath, mindfulness and movement, anybody can have a morning yoga practice. Are you ready to roll out of bed and get started?
1. Get Comfortable
Find a comfortable seated position on your mat. It could be crossing your legs pretzel-style or keeping your feet out in front of you. Notice how your body feels in the present moment.
2. Set an Intention
When it comes to morning yoga, intention-setting is often an essential part of the practice. You can set an intention for your morning, your day or even your week. Consider how you’d like to feel at the end of your morning yoga.
3. Begin a Breath Practice
Everybody has different preferences for breathing practices. While some yogis prefer to count their breaths or even out their inhales and exhales, some prefer to simply practice ujjayi pranayama, or ujjayi breath. Ujjayi breath is the pattern of inhaling through the nose and exhaling with a slight constriction at the back of the throat to make a sound, either through the nose or mouth. It sort of sounds like you’re trying to fog up a windshield. Repeat your breath practice for a few rounds of breathing.
If you’re feeling inclined to move with your breath after a few rounds, you can try bringing your hands wide out to your sides and up overhead on the inhale and letting them gently fall on the exhale. This linking of breath to movement is energizing and awakening.
4. Child’s Pose
To sink into child’s pose, put your knees on either side of the mat, stretch your arms out in front of you and sit your hips down to your heels. Here, you can take a few rounds of breath, feeling it move through your body as your hips and back stretch out.
5. Cat and Cow Pose
To get moving, you can start by flowing through cat and cow pose a few times. On all fours, you’ll round your back and tuck your tailbone on the exhale, followed by lifting the sternum and arching your back on the inhale. Repeat this motion a few times to open up your hips and center body.
6. Downward-Facing Dog
Even if you’ve never done yoga, you’ve probably seen or heard of this quintessential pose. It’s the perfect way to wake up your legs and core. Walk your hands a few inches forward from all fours on your mat and tuck your toes. Lift your hips and heels and point your sitting bones toward the sky. In this position, you can walk out your feet to get some movement into your hamstrings.
7. Sun Salutations
Sun salutations are a short series of movements usually done in repetitions of three or five, but your practice is what you make it. If you’ve ever taken a class where the teacher called for a vinyasa, that’s the foundation for a sun salutation, so you’re halfway there. They’re easy to remember and flow through. Plus, their goal is to literally greet the sun, which is perfect for a morning practice.
Sun salutation A tends to be the easiest to remember. From downward dog, you can flow to plank pose, lower all the way to your belly and come into cobra pose. After cobra, you can lower back down, push back up into downward dog and walk to the top of the mat into a forward fold. From your forward folded position, you can rise up with your arms overhead. At the end, you release your arms on an exhale.
There are many moving parts, and sun salutations can be a bit much to remember. But even with breathing patterns and specific movements, they feel great in the body and end up being totally worth the learning. Plenty of videos will guide you through sun salutations, so you can learn them and get comfortable.
Whether you like to twist seated or take your twists lying down, gently finding a slight twist for the spine is a great way to balance out the body before closing your practice. For a simple seated twist, take your opposite hand to knee and look over your back shoulder without straining. Repeat this on both sides.
9. Savasana or Meditation
Any good yoga teacher will tell you that your practice should conclude with a final relaxation pose. Not only does it give your body an opportunity to settle, but it gives your mind time to rest. While you can lie down and take the traditional final relaxation pose, many yogis will end shorter morning practices with meditation, as it prepares them for a focused, uplifted day. You can try out different methods and see what you like best. It’s all about what works best for you.
Get Your Flow On
Even if you’re a total beginner, there’s no reason you can’t get your flow on. Whether you jump out onto a lush porch before your morning coffee or roll out your mat on your dorm room floor, yoga is for everyone, and it’s a perfect way to get any day started.