We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Getting too little sleep and burning your tongue on your morning coffee can quickly snowball into a terrible day. A morning yoga practice provides the tools to start the day on the right side of the bed and carry that happy feeling within us as the day continues. Yet yoga contains a vast array of practices beyond poses that can boost your ability to set a positive tone for the day. We’ve rounded up nine practices to further feel more grounded, balanced, inspired, calmer, and happier for the rest of your day.
How to expand and elevate your morning yoga routine
To get the most out of your morning routine, check out the following nine practices. These will assist you to shift out of a stressful work mode and into a calmer, more peaceful, and happier place. Adding these to your morning yoga routine creates a solid foundation for the rest of your day, giving you the energy, focus and enthusiasm to be more productive, happy and mindful.
These simple techniques and morning yoga practices will not only start your day off with a smile—they will also increase your overall happiness, vitality and wellbeing. While most of these are easy to learn, you may wish to consult with an experienced yoga instructor to explore further.
Meditation is key to long-term happiness and inner peace. It can actually permanently change your brain. A meditation practice boosts happiness by increasing positive emotion and decreasing depression, anxiety, and stress. A study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that loving-kindness meditation increased positive emotions over time. I think of loving-kindness meditation as wishing yourself and others well, then extending this well-being to all beings.
Visualization helps you replace negative thoughts with positive ones. If you can begin your day visualizing a future happy event, you’ll get an added boost of happiness through anticipation. So, start your day in your happy place. Begin by closing your eyes and picturing yourself in your favorite place or doing something that you’re looking forward to. Imagine how it feels, smells, and what it sounds like. Let yourself be transported to this safe space.
How you feel in the morning can affect your entire day. Get your day going with gratitude because grateful people are happy people. During your yoga practice, think or even say what you are grateful for. Some days, I like to simply begin with, “I am grateful for this body. I am grateful for this yoga practice.” Returning to your grateful thoughts in your practice will help you be grateful and happy throughout your day.
Kapalabhati or breath of fire is perfect for the morning because it is warming and energizing for the body and brain. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can help shake off negative emotions and clear out negative thoughts. It is characterized by quick short exhales and passive inhalations. Add 1-3 short rounds at the start of your practice to help you wake up. Advanced yogis can add breath retention and bandhas to further intensify this breathing exercise.
5. Add power poses
A morning boost in confidence and self-esteem increases your happiness throughout the day. You are more likely to feel good about life if you feel good about yourself. Power poses are asanas that energize and make you feel strong, confident, and ready to tackle the day. Get on your mat and practice the poses that make you feel like a rock star. Try some standing yoga poses for strength and an energetic uplift. Add several of the warrior poses to boost your willpower and focus to conquer any obstacles in your day. Chest opening backbends will also improve your posture and cultivate compassion and courage.
6. Embrace Challenge
Knowing how to handle challenges can boost your happiness by showing you that the worst-case scenario is often not as bad as you thought. When you face challenging poses on your mat, you’ll begin to see them as not so bad and may even learn to feel calm amidst the challenge. Add advanced yoga poses you aren’t fond of to your morning practice. Pick the pose you like the least, the one that makes you tense and maybe even stressed. Practice it, breath and even smile through it, and feel better able to handle what the day throws at you.
7. Set clear achievable goals
Mastering skills and reaching our goals gives us a long-term happiness boost. When we look back on an accomplishment, we feel happy, empowered, and strong. Create a ritual of setting intentions and goals on a regular basis. Use your asana, pranayama, and meditation practice to build your skills and reap the long-term benefits. Pick a pose or technique you are learning and practice it every day. You may even enjoy keeping track of your progress.
Smiling makes you feel good and helps you recover from stress. Even if you aren’t feeling happy, smiling can increase happiness. So, strike an asana pose and smile. It’s probably best to start with a pose you like or even one of your power poses but eventually try this even in the challenging poses.
9. Eat mindfully
Eating breakfast puts you in a better mood. But, eating mindfully increases your happiness even more. Appreciating your food before you dig in builds anticipation, which also increases happiness and even makes your food taste better. So, take your practice off the yoga mat with breakfast.
How to incorporate practices into your morning routine
- Don’t take on too much right away—start with exploring and adding just one or two practices.
- Practice each one separately to gauge its effects and understand the technique.
- Pick the ones that resonate strongest with you to try first.
- Take a playful, creative and explorative approach to integrate these into your yoga routine.
- Take time to integrate and reflect to further refine your morning routine.
Morning yoga is one of the best ways to start the day and one of the easiest ways to reach your best physical and mental performance. A daily yoga practice that incorporates one or more of the above ideas will have the strongest effect on boosting inner-peace, emotional balance and happiness. The more time you spend on your yoga mat in the morning, the more benefits of yoga you will receive. Leave a comment below to let us know which you tried, how they felt, and what other yoga practices boost your morning yoga flow.