As a yoga teacher, I almost always ask my students to set an intention at the beginning of their practice: a simple thought or mantra to return to when their thoughts begin to go astray. Ideally, my hope is that they take this intention and mindfully carry it with them throughout their days, using it to work through any difficult or challenging situations that come up. This is often much easier said than done, but by setting aside just a few minutes for
yoga poses for morning and night, it can quickly become a fundamental part of your routine to start your day with mindful intentions, and to conclude each day by returning to them once more as you're getting ready to go to sleep.
Now, I'm fully aware that some of you are reading this and saying to yourselves, "Girl, I can barely fit one yoga flow into my busy schedule, now you want me to do two?" And I definitely feel you on that. But worry not, because I'm simply giving you five asanas to begin and end your days on a positive note — no hour-long vinyasa flows included.
These morning and evening flows won't take you any longer than five to 10 minutes each, but I can guarantee they'll still work wonders when it comes to clearing your mind and focusing on positive energy as the sun is rising, and once more as it begins to set.
In The Morning, Begin With Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)
Cat-cow pose is an incredible and gentle back stretch that's perfect for right when you hop out of bed (and onto your mat).
Before you begin any movement, make sure that you mentally record your intention you have in mind, or even say it aloud, with certainty and conviction. After you have the mantra or visual planted in your mind, begin linking your breath with your movement.
On your inhales, sink your belly down toward the mat and arch your spine. On your exhales, round your back and press the floor away with the palms of your hands.
Next, Flow Into Three-Legged, Downward Facing Dog Hip-Opener (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This rejuvenating hip-opener requires a balance between strength and flexibility, and will provide you with just the right amount of natural energy for the day to come.
As you settle into the pose, notice how each part of your body feels, and relate these unique sensations to the intention you just set. Observe everything that comes to mind without judgment.
Harness Your Power In Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
This energetic asana will help you cultivate a sense of calm, focus, and inner strength.
Root the outer edges of your feet into the earth, and feel the connection between your mind and body that is so prominent within the stable nature of warrior II.
Inhale, opening your chest and creating heart space. Exhale, sinking deeper into your hips.
Find Your Way To Peaceful Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
You'll feel an incredible, juicy stretch in your side body in this warrior variation, which is perfect for stretching it out in the a.m. hours.
Keep your front knee bent as you tilt backward, cultivating the delicate balance between holding on and letting go.
Finish With A Grounding Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Conclude your morning practice with a stable, sturdy, and rooted mountain pose.
As you stand straight with your eyes closed, return to your original intention. Envision how you're going to try to incorporate it throughout the day, and how you'll maintain the feelings of calm that you cultivated on your mat as you navigate the often hectic world around you.
In The Evening, Begin With Thread-The-Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
Now, just before you're about to get some much-needed shut-eye, take a few minutes to come back to your morning intention, and honor it through these evening asanas.
Start with a thread-the-needle stretch, opening up your shoulders after a long day on your feet. Inhale, observing the sensations in your entire body. Exhale a sigh of relief.
Release The Day's Tension In Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
Extended puppy pose is a juicy shoulder-opener that will relieve any stored up emotional and physical tension you may have built up throughout the day.
As you breathe through this stretch, reflect on how you applied your intention to your encounters today. As your shoulders begin to loosen up, allow yourself to melt a bit deeper in toward the earth.
Start Preparing For Bed With A Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
This twist is perfect for preparing for a restful night of sleep and decompressing any of the frustrations or challenges that arose throughout the day.
Use your even breathing to begin to quiet your mind and release any thoughts that do not serve you.
Find A Peaceful Rhythm In Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Happy baby is a gentle and playful hip-opener that will rid the body of negative stagnation and bad vibes that may be burying themselves deep in your hips.
Gently rock side to side, massaging your lower back and feeling the release in your sacrum as you prepare for savasana.
Finally, Surrender Yourself In Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Return to your intention one more time before you lie completely still and allow your mind to be as quiet as possible.
Scan your body, and make a note of where you're holding any additional tension. Make a conscious effort to let go of whatever it is you're still holding onto, and simply be anchored to the present moment.
Stay here for a few minutes, and when you're done, you'll be able to drift into a peaceful sleep with ease.