There's nothing like rolling out of bed in the morning and immediately finding your way to your yoga mat. The movements wake up your body and mind like a natural shot of espresso, and it's an awesome way to start the day with some guaranteed good vibes. If you're in a rush, though, you might only have about five minutes to add a little mindfulness to your a.m. routine before you have to get moving with the rest of your day. In that case, the best yoga pose for the morning will keep things short and sweet, effectively energizing your body and centering your headspace for the day ahead.
As a yoga teacher, I may be a little biased when I say that replacing your morning cup of coffee with a single yoga pose will provide you with all the healthy energy you need to kickstart your day. But I'll be real with you guys: You will never catch me sacrificing my morning cup of joe. Rather, this soothing and refreshing asana simply adds an extra boost of vitality to the whole equation, so I'm basically guaranteed to have a super productive and focused day ahead of me.
Sun salutations — or surya namaskar in Sanskrit — is the best sequence of postures that should be making their way into your morning routine, before you do anything else.
Yes, this technically involves a sequence of 11 poses, but the way in which these movements are seamlessly knit together makes surya namaskar feel like a single thread of powerful energy coursing through your body. Doing a few sun salutations in the morning will help strengthen, align, and warm up your entire body, as you quite literally salute the rising sun to ease into the day ahead.
Sun salutations are part of a sequence that create a flow of movements, all of which are coordinated with each breath you take: inhale to extend, and exhale to bend. The heat that you'll build within your body here is usually meant as a warm-up for a physical yoga practice, but these movements work just as well to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for whatever the day may bring. It's all about getting lost in the flow of your body's motions, so you can go on with the rest of your day with a clear head and an open heart.
There are a ton of different ways to do sun salutations, but according to Yoga Outlet, the most common style is called "sun salutation A," or "surya namaskara A."
Tuning into your breath — really focusing on dedicating one breath to one individual movement within your sun salutations sequence — is absolutely key here, especially if you're looking to invite a meditative aspect into your morning yoga practice.
When you're linking your inhales and exhales with each of your movements, try to remember to breathe primarily through your nose, using ujjayi pranayama, aka "ocean breathing" (i.e. your breath should sound similar to the ebb and flow of waves crashing on the shore), which will warm up the air circulating throughout your body, inducing a calming, meditative sensation to wash over you.
Your breath is your life force here — let it guide you through your movements, even if it's telling you that you need to pull back and slow down a bit. If your breathing becomes shallow or labored at any point, be sure to honor your body's signals and slow your movements down, or at least draw them out a bit more.
On the other hand, if you find that you're able to breathe easily and expansively throughout your sequence, consider experimenting with a slightly faster version of your sun salutations to create more heat in your body and boost your energy for the day even more.
Personally, I recommend repeating surya namaskar about three times to make sure your entire body is warmed up, and to guarantee that any tension you're holding onto is released. If you have a bit of extra time in the a.m. and you're craving more, you can experiment with sun salutations B or C — or both, if you're feeling wild!