Nothing sounds more enjoyable than a nice yoga practice first thing in the morning, right? But have you ever tried to do it? It never seems to turn out the way you’d hoped. How do those yogis on Instagram make it look so easy?
The top complaint I hear: “I get on my mat but I have no idea what to do so, I just sit there for a while then give up.” Is this you? Yeah, well it used to be me, too.
Recently, I shared one simple, well-rounded morning flow with you, but as your home morning yoga practice progresses, you’ll become more aware of what your body is calling for each morning and you’ll start to follow that in order to build your own sequences.
When it comes to sequencing, there’s literally a thousand ways to slice and dice a morning practice. But when you’re just starting out, a little guidance and direction is helpful. So I thought I’d share a few tips.
How to Sequence Your Home Morning Yoga Practice
Essentially, the goal of my morning yoga practice is to get my mind ready for the day and slowly wake my body up as I move my spine in all directions — bend forward, bend backward, twist in both directions, and inverted. So to accomplish this, in my morning practice I use nine “buckets”:
1. Meditation & Pranayama (Breathing). Spend a few minutes quieting your mind and tuning into your breath.
2. Set an Intention. Take a moment to set an intention for your practice and your day. Intentions help us to act on purpose rather than as a force of habit.
3. Gentle Warm-Up Movements. Do some neck rolls, shoulder circles, seated twists, side stretches and/or some gentle spine stretches like Cat/Cow. When you’re ready to stand up and move a bit more, nothing beats Sun Salutations to get your motor running.
4. Standing Poses. I like to sprinkle in some low and high lunges, Warriors and standing forward bends, followed by a balancing pose or two (like Tree or Half-Moon), then throw in a few grounding poses (like Pyramid) for good measure.
5. Core. It’s amazing what just a few simple core moves (like Plank or Boat Pose) can do to get you tapped into your own personal power so that you’re feeling strong and ready to take on whatever the day throws at you.
6. Inversions. No, you do not have to do a handstand or headstand to reap the benefits of an inversion. Any pose where your head is lower than your heart is an inversion — think Downward Facing Dog, Bridge Pose and Plow Pose.
7. Backbends. Talk about energizing and invigorating — it’s like jump-starting your engine. Backbends also bring about feelings of love, happiness, and compassion — who couldn’t use more of that? Try Camel, Cobra, Locust or Sphinx Pose.
8. Seated Forward Bends and Twists. Most of don’t do much spinal stretching or twisting during our day but it’ll make you feel like a million bucks, especially when done on the floor as you hang out and let gravity do the work.
9. Savasana. The key to a complete practice is rest and restoration. Spend at least 5 full minutes here to practice taking this time to clear your mind.
To show you what it looks like when you show up on your mat in your jammies without a pre-planned sequence and just start moving, I filmed my own morning practice one day earlier this week for you to see. The entire practice was 35 minutes long but I sped up the video so you could see the entire thing in 7 minutes.
Check out the video of my morning home practice here or below:
Trust me, the actual morning practice never resembles those beautiful and flawless flows that you see people doing on Instagram. In fact, if you watch my video closely, you might make the following observations:
- Wardrobe gets in the way sometimes.
- You often forget to do the same thing on the left side that you did on the right side (oops!).
- Occasionally you’ll come up for Warrior I but your back foot won’t cooperate.
- Balance can be a problem from time to time.
- Props are your friends.
Don’t get caught up in perfection. Start with a brief (or not so brief) meditation, then just breathe and move. Tune into where you feel tight or tense and start slowly moving those areas in all directions. Your body will guide you and there’s really no right or wrong answers. Your practice, your rules!
What are the essential parts of your morning practice? —Alison