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Even Busy People Can Do This 10-Minute Morning Yoga Sequence

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Morning is the best time of day for a yoga practice. You’re starting your day in a loving, meaningful way, and in alignment with the rising sun, indicating the start of a brand new opportunity.

Unfortunately, the morning is often a busy time and a full practice just isn’t going to happen. If the AM hours are not the most ideal to get your asana on, carve out just five to 10 minutes to squeeze in this quick, four-pose sequence. (And if you do have time for a longer practice, be sure it includes these poses!)

Easy Seat

You don’t even have to roll your mat out for this one. Simply take a comfortable seat somewhere - anywhere, really - and pause to breathe. Observe how you’re sitting; observe your breath. This is not the time or place to plan your tasks for the day, mentally prepare a grocery list, or decide what to eat for breakfast. This is the time to sit in comfortable silence and tune in with yourself.

How to practice:

Pick somewhere quiet (or as quiet as possible) where you can come to a cross-legged seat. Root down evenly through both sitting bones and sit up tall - lengthening through your spine and the crown of your head. Just be still for 10 breaths.

Modification: If cross-legged isn't comfortable or easy, you can sit up tall in a chair, sit with your legs straight out in front of you, or prop pillows/yoga blocks underneath your knees.

Cat/Cow

Technically two poses, but consider it a two-for-one deal for your body. If you’re super crunched for time and don’t have an extra second to roll out your mat, grab the pillow right off your bed to pad your knees!

How to practice:

Start out in a table pose, stacking your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your knees. Spread your fingers wide. On your inhale, drop your belly down, arching your back and opening across your chest. On your exhale, round your back and release your head and neck. Flow through five to six rounds of breath.

Modification: If cat/cow is difficult on your wrists, you can come onto your fists instead of your palms. Alternatively, you can come back to easy seat and do seated cat/cow: bring your hands to your knees, and arch your back and bring your chest toward your ankles as you inhale; as you exhale, straighten your arms, round your back, and drop your chin to your chest.

Downward Facing Dog

If you’re usually an evening practitioner, downward facing dog may not come as easily first thing in the morning - your body is not nearly as open yet, and down dog is a pretty complex pose. You can ease into it by shortening your stance a bit or bending your knees more generously than usual. Continue pedaling your feet to open up the hamstrings.

How to practice:

After cat/cow, come back to table and walk your hands out about a palm print in front of you. Tuck your toes and send your hips up high toward the ceiling. Like in cat/cow, your upper arms should be rotating out, with your elbow creases facing the front edge of your mat. Rotate your inner thighs in toward one another, and press the backs of your thighs energetically toward the wall behind you. Encourage your heels toward the mat. Hold downward dog for five to six breaths.

Modification: If your heels do not come anywhere near the mat, try shortening your stance or bending the knees more - but don’t worry if they still don’t touch! If downward dog is not in your practice, drop your knees to the mat and enjoy the stretch in your upper body.

Mountain

The seemingly simple posture is a symbol of grounding and power. It’s an opportunity to open your heart to the day and let the light in. Attention to detail is key here - this pose is more than just standing. Mountain is the perfect posture to repeat a mantra or intention for your day, either out loud or silently in your mind.

How to practice:

Stand tall with your feet hips width apart, rooting down through all four corners of your feet. To feel this, lift your toes up from the mat, firm down through your feet, and then release your toes back down. Lift through the arches of your feet, engaging the muscles in your thighs and rotating them slightly inward as you do so. Draw your shoulders up to your ears then slide your shoulder blades down your back. Spread your fingers wide with your arms long to your sides, palms facing front. Broaden across your collar bones. Knit your lower ribs in, together, and down. Lengthen the back of the neck and bring your chin parallel to the floor. Envision one continuous line of energy from the crown of your head to the tip of your tailbone. Close your eyes. Stand tall for 10 breaths.

Modification: If standing is unavailable, you can practice this pose seated in a chair, applying the same actions in the upper body as if you were standing.

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