Mornings were made for rituals. Coffee and tea, meditating and journaling, stretching and breathing. But summer mornings can tend to fill up fast as we schedule for longer days with time spent outdoors, and galavanting about town at night. There isn’t always time for a full yoga session during the height of summer, but there is always room for a few minutes of dedicated home practice to connect to your body, warm your muscles, and get your blood pumping.
The following morning yoga routine begins like a traditional vinyasa class, with a short power sequence to help jumpstart your morning and even break a sweat. Here’s to plenty of hot fun in the summertime!
Morning Warm Up Sequence
These poses are designed to generate some heat in your core while stoking your digestive fire. In just a few minutes, you’ll feel energized, focused and ready to take on those long summer days ahead.
Cat and Cow
The simplest way to warm up your spine, massage your digestive organs, and get blood flowing smoothly into your intestines are with the simple hip motions and spinal flexions of Cat and Cow.
Come to all fours, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Optional: tuck your toes to stretch the tight fascia of the soles of your feet. Inhale to let your belly drop by tilting your pelvis downward to reach your tailbone high, as you broaden through the chest and collarbones. Lift the crown of your head and gaze to the sky as you continue to externally rotate your shoulders into Cow Pose. Exhale to round your thoracic spine by releasing your tailbone down. Then tuck your chin as you draw your navel all the way in to empty out your lungs, as you continue rounding your back into Cat Pose. Repeat 5–7 times.
Sun Salutations (Suryanamaskar A)
From Tadasana, inhale to stretch your arms overhead and lengthen your spine. Exhale to dive forward and in. Inhale to a flat back as you send your gaze forward, then exhale to step or jump back to the top of a pushup. Take a deep breath in, then exhale to lower down in one straight line, keeping your hips lifted as best you can. Inhale to Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, exhale to Downward Facing Dog for 3–5 breaths.
Inhale to look forward as you stretch your chest and thighbones back, and then at the bottom of your exhale, step or jump to the front of the mat. Inhale to a half lift; exhale to fold forward. Optional: grab opposite elbows and let your torso hang heavy. Inhale all the way up to stand, then exhale your hands to your heart.
Repeat up to five times.
Low Lunge with Jump Switches
From Downward Dog, inhale to sweep your right foot back, then bend the knee to open up your hip for a few breaths. Inhale to step the right foot in between your hands, then tent your fingers and let yourself rock back and forth; side to side—releasing the psoas muscles. Bring your right knee to stack over your ankle and take a deep breath in; exhale to jump switch—bringing the left foot forward. Inhale to jump switch again, bringing the right foot back to between your hands. Release your back knee down.
Revolved Low Lunge
Inhale to send your arms up and overhead, then exhale to sink low in your hips. Inhale your palms to your chest in a prayer, then exhale to draw the left elbow just outside of your right knee. Press your top palm down into your bottom palm, to draw the tips of your thumbs to the center of your sternum. Send your breath all the way into your low belly, to facilitate the twist from your navel. This will allow the rest of your torso to naturally revolve along the axis of your spine. Lastly, start to turn your chin over your right shoulder and send your gaze overhead. Be mindful to keep your jaw soft and shoulders relaxed. Breathe deeply for 3–5 breaths.
Revolved Low–to–High Lunge
From Revolved Low Lunge, inhale to lift your back knee and straighten your leg. Exhale, to tap the back knee down; inhale to straighten and lift. Repeat 2–3 times, finishing with Revolved High Lunge.
Revolved Chair Pose
From Revolved High Lunge, inhale to soften the back knee as you shift your weight forward. Exhale to step your back foot up to meet your right foot at the top of your mat, still maintaining the revolution of your torso with your palms at your chest. Make sure your big toes are close together, if not touching, as you begin to sit low as you would in Chair Pose. Keep reaching your seat behind you, and drawing your left hip crease back to maintain a squaring of your hips. Continue turning your chin over your right shoulder and gaze to the sky. Optional: On an exhale, lift to the balls of your feet and lower your seat all the way down to your heels, then inhale your way back up to Revolved Chair Pose. Stay here for 3–5 deep breaths.
On an exhale, lift to the balls of your feet and then lower your seat all the way down to your heels. Still twisting to the right, plant your palms to the floor directly under your shoulders, so that the back of your right tricep snuggles up on the outer edge of your torso and right hip. Your left arm, just above the elbow, will plant to the outside edge of your right knee. Begin shifting your weight side-to-side (you are still twisted to the right), so that you come to the balls of your feet, or maybe the tips of your toes. Keep your fingers spread wide as you bend the elbows in like you would in Chaturanga. Let your heart lead you as you work to find your steadiness in preparation for flight. Once you find the arm balance, maybe you extend both of the legs straight out and away from one another, as you continue to lead your heart and head forward (to the right). And if you don’t quite get there, smile, and just acknowledge the fact that you tried!
Squat with Forward Fold
From your Side Crow preparatory posture, walk your hands over to the left in between your legs. Send your knees out wide to either side and stay resting on your heels with your seat. Be sure your big toes are nearly touching. Walk your hands out as far in front of you as they’ll go, taking a deep breath in. Exhale to release your head and neck, resting here for as long as you need to before performing this sequence on the other side of your body.
Andrea Rice is a writer and yoga teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, NY Yoga + Life, SONIMA, mindbodygreen and other online publications. Connect with Andrea on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her website.