I first got into yoga when my anxiety was at its peak as a way to slow my breath and relax. Once I started using yoga as a way to relax, I realized how many other things yoga could help with. Whenever I have intense anxiety I always have tension headaches, and yoga helps relieve those. I use running as a way to release and yoga helps keep my legs from getting tight so I can run more frequently. I also use yoga to give me energy in the morning (or during an afternoon slump). I’ve discovered that practicing yoga soon after waking up, sets me up for a better day.
The following yoga sequence is the typical one I practice in the morning to boost my energy.
1. Upward Salute to Side Bend (Urdhva Hastasana)
From mountain pose, inhale as you raise your arms and face palms towards each other. Exhale and return to mountain pose. Repeat this 3 times and on the 3rd round as your arms are up, hold your left wrist with your right hand. Exhale as you pull your body slightly to the right to stretch the left side. Look under the left arm or keep your head neutral. Keep the feet grounded and core engaged. Breath and hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Return to mountain pose.
2. Standing Yoga Seal (Dandayamana Mudrasana)
From mountain pose, inhale and interlock your hands behind your back, bringing shoulder blades together and opening through the chest. Exhale and hinge at the hips bringing the chest forward while reaching the arms upward and forward. Keep your knees as bent as you need to and let the head hang heavy. Hold for 3 breaths. Return to mountain pose.
3. Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)
From mountain pose, exhale while you hinge at the hips and fold forward with a flat back. Hold halfway, resting hands on your shins. Hold for 3 breaths. Return to mountain pose.
4. Chair (Utkatasana)
From mountain pose, you can bring the knees together or keep them hip-distance apart. Inhale and bring arms overhead with palms facing each other. Exhale and start to bend the knees moving the hips down and back (as if you were going to sit in a chair). Keep the knees pointing forward and shift your weight into heels while tilting the pelvis down. Keeping your arms overhead, drop your shoulders so they are relaxed. Hold for 3 breaths.
5. Eagle (Garudasana)
From chair pose, slowly put weight into your left foot. Inhale as you bring your right thigh over your left and bring your right foot to the side of your left calf. Exhale and sink a little deeper. Inhale as you bring your right elbow underneath your left bringing your palms to touch. Keep your elbows lifted and core engaged. Find a point to focus on and hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Return to mountain pose.
6. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
From mountain pose, take a step forward with your left leg and put all weight into this leg. Inhale as you bring your arms overhead. Exhale as you hinge at the hips and start to bring your arms and torso forward. Look down and stretch from the fingers through the right toes. Hold for 2 breaths and move into high lunge (next pose).
7. High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
From Warrior III, with right leg lifted, slowly begin to bend your left knee as you bring the right toes to the floor. Be sure to keep your left knee behind left toes so your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Inhale as you bring your arms and torso up towards the ceiling. Square your hips and exhale as you sink a little lower. Stay high on your right toes, bending right knee if needed. Hold for 3 breaths. Return to mountain pose and repeat Warrior III and High Lunge on the other side.
8. Cat-Cow (Chakravakasana)
Begin in a table top position with a neutral spine. Place your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Inhale as you bring your stomach down and lift your chin, keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Exhale as you bring your stomach in towards your spine and round your back towards the ceiling while dropping your head. Repeat for 3 breath cycles and return to a table top position.
9. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)
From a table top position spread fingers wide apart with middle finger facing forward. Exhale as you tuck your toes and push into your hands and bring your hips towards the ceiling. Press your hips up and back and reach chest towards the thighs. Press into the heels and keep as much of a bend in the knees as needed to keep the back straight. Let the head and neck hang freely. Hold for 3 breaths.
10. Plank (Phalakasana)
From downward facing dog, inhale as you move forward stacking your shoulders over your wrist. Engage your core, drop your tailbone, push your heels back, and keep a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head. Hold for 3 breaths.
11. Seated Twist (
From plank pose, come into a seated position with your legs crossed in front of you. Inhale as you sit up straight and lengthen your spine. Exhale as you place your left hand on the floor behind you and your right hand on your left knee. Gaze over your left shoulder and gently twist to the left. Inhale again to lengthen your spine and exhale to twist deeper. Hold for 3 breaths and repeat on the other side.
12. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Return to a neutral seated position and place your hands on your knees. Palms can be facing up for receiving or facing down for grounding. Sit up straight, lengthening the spine while dropping your shoulders away from the ears. Relax the face, jaw, and stomach. Softly close your eyes and begin to deepen your breath, breathing in and out through the nose. Sit here for as long as you would like, focusing on your breath. Once you are ready to get out of the pose, softly open your eyes and sit for a moment taking in your surroundings and being present. Now you’re ready to start your day!
Please listen to your body while practicing yoga, and practice these poses at your own risk. I am no expert and am a yoga student myself, so I am constantly learning and adapting my practice. My next yoga tutorial is going to be the yoga routine I do before bed to ground down and relax for a better nights sleep. I’ll link here once it’s ready. Namaste.