5 Yoga Poses to Prepare You For the Day Ahead

Adina Crawford demonstrates a yoga posture

By Adina Crawford. Adina loves running, cycling, swimming and, most of all, yoga. She is certified to teach many forms of yoga and specializes in Sculpt, Vinyasa and Restorative. You can also find her teaching classes on mindfulness, HIIT, strength and agility.

Many people have a morning ritual to help them prepare for each new day, like that sacred cup of coffee or watching the morning news. If you’re seeking to relax your body and mind, a regular morning yoga practice is an excellent way to start each day.

Morning yoga can help you ease muscle tightness, reduce anxiety and stress, and enhance your metabolism. Studies list additional benefits of yoga, including increased flexibility and strength, and better heart health.

Try the yoga sequence below from Adina Crawford to help you jump start your day.

All photos by @the_shepherdstory

Cat / Cow

Adina Crawford demonstrates Cat pose

Benefits:

This pose improves spinal circulation. Repeat this sequence 2-4 times to feel your spine lengthening. Hold each pose for 20 seconds and then switch.

How to do it:

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Place your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. The tops of your feet should lay flat on the mat. The center of your head should be in a neutral position while keeping your eyes towards the floor.

Press your hands firmly into the mat.

 Adina Crawford demonstrates Cow pose

Move into cow pose by arching your back and rolling your shoulders back and down. Inhale as your belly falls. Your eyes should be focused upward.

To transition into cat pose, exhale and tip your pelvis forward, drawing your navel toward your spine. Your gaze should be toward your navel.

Modifications:

If you feel pressure on your knees, place a blanket or towel under them for extra cushioning.

Knee Hover

 Adina Crawford demonstrates Knee Hover pose

Benefits:

Improves stability, builds strength and mobilizes the hips.

How to do it:

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

Your spine should be neutral with your hands wide on the mat.

Press your toes into the floor, engage your core and lift both knees up 1-3 inches from the mat.

Hold the pose for 20 seconds.

Modifications:

Keep your knees on the mat without lifting them up.

Crescent Lunge

 Adina Crawford demonstrates Crescent Lunge pose

Benefits:

Builds core and leg strength while opening the hip flexors.

How to do it:

Stand tall and step your right foot forward into a lunge.

Keep your right knee stacked over your ankle and aligned directly over your heel.

Lift your arms up with your palms facing one another while pressing through your back heel.

Draw your tailbone in, lift your chest up and lengthen your spine.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite leg.

Modifications:

Bring your back knee onto the floor.

Standing Tree Pose

 Adina Crawford demonstrates standing tree pose

Benefits:

Trains the stabilizer muscles of your hips while creating balance and stability.

How to do it:

Stand tall, draw your tailbone in and lengthen your spine.

Shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off the mat.

Place the sole of your left foot on your right inner thigh.

Keep your right leg straight with a soft bend at the knee.

Bring your hands to your heart center, draw your shoulder blades back and lengthen your spine through the crown of your head. Your gaze should be forward.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite leg.

Modification:

Lie on your back with your legs extended.

Draw your left knee up, pointing it outward, and place the sole of your left foot on your upper right thigh.

You can place a block under your left knee to make this position more comfortable.

Hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching sides.

Forward Bend/Side Twist

 Adina Crawford demonstrates side twist pose

Benefits:

Opens up your shoulders, strengthens your core and hamstrings

How to do it:

Start in a standing position and begin leaning forward with your knees slightly bent.

Bring your hips over your knees, lift your chest up away from your thighs, and lengthen your spine and neck.

Bring your right hand to your left foot, twist your torso and extend your left arm up toward the ceiling.

Your gaze should be upward and your hips should be squared toward the front.

Hold this pose for 20 seconds before switching to the opposite side.

Modification:

Bend your knees, place your hands on your thighs and lengthen through your neck.

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