5 Yoga Poses to Energize your Morning

By Lesley Nicole Ramsey

Yogis have been greeting the day with sun salutations for thousands of years for a reason: it works! Early mornings may not be for everyone, but anyone can benefit from a little bit of moving, stretching and mindfully breathing at the start of your day—whenever that happens to be! Even a short yoga practice first thing in the morning jump starts your metabolism, focuses your mind and gives you more raw energy than any coffee drink can.

Here are five poses MBS Rise Strong instructor Lesley Ramsey loves to start her day off right.

  1. Child’s pose
MBS Yoga Instructor Lesley Ramsey demonstrates Child’s Pose.

Yoga teachers will often instruct their students to rest in Child’s Pose, or balasana in sanskrit, any time they need to take a break during a class. I love Child’s Pose variations to help with the transition from sleeping to moving and being awake. In Child’s Pose you’ll begin to enliven the arms and shoulders and stretch the spine and ankles. It feels good.

Benefits of Child’s Pose

  • Gently stretches hips, thighs and ankles
  • Relieves head and neck tension
  • Massages abdominal organs and intestines, stimulating digestion and elimination
  • Reduces stress and fatigue
  • Encourages quiet introspection

How to do it

Begin kneeling with your big toes touching and your knees together or apart. Lower your hips to your heels and, exhaling, lay your torso down on top of or in between your thighs. Let your forehead touch the floor, or if it doesn’t reach, use a block or a pillow for support. Energize Child’s Pose by reaching your arms out in front of you. With your hands at least shoulder distance apart, press your palms down into the floor or your mat and gently push them forward, as if you were trying to stretch your mat longer out in front of you. Breathe fully into your belly and observe any changes in the movement of the breath as you lengthen your spine and push your hips a little further back toward your heels. Hold for a count of 5-10 breaths.

  1. Camel pose
Camel Pose is a great backbend with modifications for every body.

From the forward bending curve of Child’s Pose, it feels good to do a little backbend. Camel Pose, ustrasana, is a level 1 pose with variations that work for any body. No matter which option you choose, this pose stimulates the adrenal gland, starts to activate the big muscles of the thighs and gives you a little rush when you come out of it!

Benefits of Camel Pose

  • Stretching the entire front of the body, the ankles (in some variations), thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, throat and deep hip flexors.
  • Strengthening upper back muscles and deep core stabilizers
  • Stimulating the organs of the abdomen and neck
  • Improving posture, and
  • Providing an exhilarating rush of adrenaline when you come out of it.

How to do it

Begin kneeling with your knees hip distance apart. Gently create a foundation for yourself by pressing your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Engage your abdominal muscles and lift your pelvic floor, anchoring the torso to the grounded legs. From here, lift your chin and chest up toward the sky, gently pushing the hips a little forward, engaging the thighs as you reach back for your heels. You can curl your toes under, which elevates the heels, making them a little more accessible to reach. Keep pressing down through your legs as you lift the chest and extend the upper back up. Hold for a count of 5-10 breaths. To exit the pose, lift your torso back up to a high kneeling position, and then lower your hips to heels and rest in Child’s Pose.

  1. Garland Pose
Garland pose, or a low squat, wakes up ankles and knees.

After you get a little boost of upward flowing energy from Camel Pose, ground yourself again in Garland Pose, malasana, a low squat.

Benefits of Garland Pose

  • Stretches and strengthens the ankles and feet
  • Tones the belly
  • Stretches and open hips
  • Tones pelvic floor and deep stabilizing abdominal muscles

How to do it

You can begin standing with your feet hip distance or even a little wider apart. Start to bend your knees, lowering into a squat. Your feet may turn out a little. If they do, be sure to keep your knees bending in the direction your toes are pointing. As you get lower, your heels may lift off the floor. You can balance on your balls of your feet, or place a rolled up blanket or towel under your heels for support. Press your palms together in front of your heart in prayer pose, nestling your elbows inside your knees. Gently squeeze your knees toward each other, pressing into your elbows which push back against the knees. Lift your heart up as you hold the posture for 5-10 breaths.

  1. Warrior Three
Harder than it looks! Warrior 3 requires a strong core to keep the hips level as you lift the back leg.

From these low to the ground, symmetrical postures, transition to an asymmetrical standing balancing pose. Warrior Three, Virabhadrasana III in sanskrit, redirects the upward and downward flowing energy back into the midline of your body, shoring up your strength around your core. Warrior Three achieves extension by plugging into a strong base.

Benefits of Warrior Three

  • Strengthens ankles and feet
  • Strengthens and lengthens hamstrings
  • Tones abdomen
  • Improves balance and posture
  • Calls on the powers of concentration and focus

How to do it

Begin standing in Mountain Pose (basic standing up pose, feet together or a little apart, toes and knees facing the front.) Take a big step back with one foot into a high lunge with the front knee bent. Reach both arms up toward the sky, palms facing each other. Then lower your torso, keeping your arms up by your ears, reaching your arms toward the front of the room as you bend over the front leg. From here, spring off your back foot, lifting the back leg up while you straighten your front standing leg. Your torso and back leg come into alignment, parallel to the floor. Core strength is critical to holding Warrior Three. Because your arms and legs are extended, you must energetically draw them in toward an imaginary midline going through your body, top to bottom, to create strength. Arms draw toward each other. Gently draw your lifted leg medially, toward the imaginary midline that would run along your inseams. Engage your belly to support any strain you might feel in your lower back. Hold, again, for 5-10 breaths and then switch sides.

  1. Standing Forward Bend
The Best Morning Stretch for Your Morning
MBS Yoga Teacher, Lesley Ramsey demonstrates a Standing Forward Bend, standing on her hands. The Best Morning Stretch!

A Standing Forward Bend gets the blood moving and shifts your perspective. This pose predominantly stretches the hamstrings. But you can vary it up to add stretches for the wrists, upper back bends and twists for a full exploration of the basic shape.

Benefits of Standing Forward Bend

  • Stretches the hamstrings, a major muscle group used everyday in walking and running
  • Calms the mind and relieves stress
  • Reduces fatigue and anxiety
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure and sinusitis

How to do it

From Mountain Pose, place your hands on your hips. Take a breath in and as you exhale, bend forward from the hips. As you feel the hamstrings tighten, you can bend your knees to keep lengthening the torso forward until the top of your head is pointing toward the floor. Once there, remove your hands from your hips and let your arms dangle toward the floor. Begin straightening your legs as much as you can. A little bend in the knees is ok! Engage your abdominal muscles and keep breathing as you press down through your heels and lift up through the hips. Let the back of your neck relax as much as you can. If your hands touch the floor, place your palms down by your feet. If your hands don’t reach the floor, you can clasp opposite elbows while you hang out in the posture.

Turn the backs of your hands toward the floor and slide them under your feet from the toe end toward the heels. You’ll be standing on the palms of your hands, with your toes approaching or touching your wrists. Bend your elbows out to either side to pull your torso gently closer to your straight legs. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then step off your hands one at a time.


These postures get your blood flowing and help you center your mind to start your day off right. You can practice these poses with Lesley at Rise Strong Flow classes, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at 6 am at MBS Yoga in King William.