This 10-Minute Yoga Practice Is All About Starting Your Day With Positivity
A bad morning can follow you throughout the entire day — raise your hand if stubbing your toe on your bed frame and spilling your coffee all over your new white shirt snowballed into unnecessarily snapping at your partner and an overall foul mood.
While we can't do much about your furniture placement, we can help you out with a 10-minute yoga practice — curated by Katie Davidson, a California-based certified yoga instructor — that puts positivity and productivity on the forefront.
"One thing to understand is that yoga involves subtle energy in the body," Davidson says. "Moving and releasing stagnant energy right when we wake up is a great cleansing practice, while synching our breath with our movement is one way to align our bodies with our minds, essentially getting all parts of ourselves on the same page before we start our day. It also sets our priorities straight."
While Davidson admits it's tempting to sit up in bed and simply begin, she recommends getting out of bed and carving out a special place for your practice — even just a corner of your room works! "There are already so many distractions; a warm, cozy bed doesn't need to be one of them. Set your space up ahead of time, perhaps with a cushion or blanket for the first meditative posture, and anything else that might help you anchor, or commit to, your practice," she says.
Then, check out Davidson's yoga sequence and pro tips, below. While she notes that it's suitable for all levels and can be done in succession, remember to take breaks as needed and listen to your body's cues.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or Hero Pose (Virasana)
"Start your sequence in a meditative seat," Davidson says. "This might mean in Easy Pose with legs criss-crossed in front of you, or Hero Pose, kneeling and sitting back between your heels. Both poses can be quite intense, the first one on your hips and the second on your knees, so listen to your body."
- Prop yourself up on a stiff pillow, thick, folded blanket, or a large towel — elevating your hips can reduce compression (bone-on-bone tension).
- Once you get comfortable, Davidson says to start to notice which parts of your body are "meeting the earth." For example, Davidson says to imagine them rooting down.
- "Next, notice where the boundaries of your body meet the space and air around you. As you root your seat down, lengthen your spine, gently tucking your chin and lifting the crown of your head."
- If you're feeling tired, heavy, or sluggish, Davidson recommends placing your palms face up on your thighs to invite in more energy. If you're feeling anxious, place your palms face down for more grounding.
- Sit in this position for one minute.
- Davidson also recommends using this time to set an intention with a word or a phrase that encompasses how you want to feel. "If your mind starts to wander, use your breath and intention as an anchor. For instance, breathe in and silently say, 'I am,' then breathe out your word or phrase. 'I am . . . strong.' 'I am . . . confident.' 'I am . . . unstoppable.'"
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
- Start in table-top position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Wake up your front and back bodies by moving intuitively — Davidson suggests making circular motions with your chest and upper back, or starting to flow between Cat Pose, arching your back up, and Cow Pose, reversing the arch while lifting your gaze and tailbone.
- "As you come into Cat Pose, try holding the pose for a breath, noticing how it feels to breathe into and expand your back body. Then, flow into Cow Pose, again holding for a breath or two. Next, start to sync your breath with the movements, inhaling up into Cat Pose and exhaling out for Cow Pose," Davidson says.
- Flow through these poses for one minute.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
"You've probably seen a dog reach its arms forward and lift its tail up, upon waking up from a nap — and with good reason. Inversions, in which your heart is above your head, can have an invigorating effect," Davidson says.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then, exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
- Perform this pose for one minute.
- If you have a difficult time holding it for that long, Davidson suggests focusing on one gaze point behind you and reconnecting to your intention: "breathe in, 'I am . . . ' breathe out, 'your intention.'"
Mountain Pose (Tadasana) and/or Star Pose (Tarasana)
Davidson says these poses can help you activate a confident energy.
- As you inhale, lift your shoulders up. As you exhale, allow them to roll back and drop down your back.
- As your feet ground into the earth, Davidson says to rise up and lengthening your spine. "This is another great pose to pause in, notice the subtle effects of other poses, and/or reconnect with your original intention."
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
- After 30 seconds, extend your arms at 45-degree angles for Star Pose and step your feet out wider than your hips — feel your limbs reaching in all different directions, taking the shape of a star.
- Davidson says the simple act of reaching your arms overhead increases energy and adds an uplifting effect.
"This sequence of poses is named after saluting the sun, or giving thanks for a new day, making it perfect for first thing in the morning," Davidson says. "It also builds some heat. If you don't have time for much else, a few rounds can give you a quick energy boost, while starting your day with gratitude can replace negative thought patterns with powerful, positive alternatives."
- Starting in Mountain Pose, inhale your arms up above your head. As you exhale, hinge at your hips into a Forward Fold (Uttanasa). Don't worry if you need to bend your knees. You can also bring your hands to a block or stack of books to bring the ground closer to you.
- Inhale for a Halfway Lift (Ardha Uttanasa), reaching your head up while keeping your spine straight and keeping your hands on the floor, or a prop. Exhale back down into a Forward Fold.
- Inhale your feet back into Plank Pose (Phalakasana), and exhale down through Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana), or all the way to the ground. You can also drop your knees, then chest, then chin, if that's more accessible.
- Inhale into Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), placing your hands right under your shoulders and pressing your front body up.
- Exhale back into Downward-Facing Dog. Hold for three breaths.
- Walk or float your feet to meet your hands at the front of your mat. Inhale up for halfway lift, and exhale down into Forward Fold.
- Inhale, reaching your arms and standing up. Exhale arms down into Mountain Pose.
- Continue this sequence for one minute.
- Check out this visual guide to an entire Sun Salutation sequence for more explanation.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
"We're about halfway through our sequence, so it's the perfect time to call in some balance and equanimity," Davidson says.
- If you're feeling shaky or want some support, stand next to a wall.
- Press one foot down into the ground, really rooting down. Press the other foot into your standing leg, above or below (but never directly on) the knee.
- To help with balance, pick one stationary point to gaze at. You might also bring a hand to the wall, but otherwise bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your heart.
- When you feel steady and ready, grow your branches by extending them up overhead.
- If you want to play around with your balance, close your eyes or gaze up.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
- From Mountain Pose, step one foot back, coming into a high lunge with your knee over your ankle. Pivot the back foot out into a 45-degree angle, and align the arch with the heel of your front foot.
- Inhale your arms straight up (passing through Warrior I), then exhale and bring your arms parallel to the ground — your back arm will be the same side as your back foot.
- Draw your hands away from each other, and gaze over your front hand – with the front arm reaching forward and the back reaching behind you, your core remains centered.
- "I have a teacher that likes to say if you notice yourself leaning forward, you're worrying about the future, and if you notice yourself leaning back, you're living in the past. Can you bring yourself back to the present moment? Stand tall, strong, and rooted in your intention," Davidson says.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- To switch sides, simply pivot both feet so that you're facing the side. Then, pivot again so that the foot that was originally in the back is now in the front. Come into Warrior II on the other side, and hold for 30 seconds.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana I)
- When turning to face the side, inhale your chest up, then hinge at the hips and fold forward as you exhale.
- "This is another inversion that gets your heart above your head, and this particular pose can have a cooling effect — perfect as we start to wind down our practice," Davidson says.
- Your hands can rest on the ground or hips, or you can interlace them behind your back. Note: the latter can be done with a strap and is not recommended if you have any shoulder issues.
- Hold for one minute.
- If needed, take a pause between each side of Warrior II with a Wide-Legged Forward Fold.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Sit back on your heels, allow your toes to touch, and spread your knees wide. Walk your hands forward, pressing your head into the earth.
- You can keep your hands down, flip them up, or bring them together in prayer.
- "This is a resting pose, again great for reconnecting to your original intention, offering it up, and surrendering," Davidson says.
- Hold this pose for one minute.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
"Many people skip out on Savasana, especially when they're pressed for time. However, I highly encourage you to take at least a minute to absorb the benefits of your practice. Similar to how we started, bring your body and mind to one more minute of calm and stillness," Davidson says.