Get up, get moving and banish morning fatigue with this energy-boosting yoga sequence.
If you think yoga and Pilates are simply for relaxation and less effective when it comes to fat burning and overall strength, then think again. Yes, you’ll get the stretching, breathing and body-awareness benefits from this yoga circuit, but you’ll also perform six super-effective moves that will raise your heart rate and challenge every muscle from head to toe, whilst lengthening and toning any trouble spots.
Related: What is yoga? Benefits & basic principles for beginners
Benefits of exercising when you wake up:
This energising yet grounding yoga sequence will engage your core and co-ordination, all the while waking up and preparing every muscle from head to toe. Try doing it after you wake up. Moving first thing in the morning will sharpen your focus, as well as help you to connect to your inner self. This, in turn, will leave you feeling more alert and motivated to take on the day ahead.
Energy-boosting yoga sequence
Perform 1-2 rounds of sun salutations to warm up, then start the circuit by performing each of these moves in order. Hold each pose for 15 deep breaths, performing the sequence first on one side and then on the other. Continue flowing through the energy-boosting yoga sequence until you’ve done the routine twice on each side.
Related: Best yoga poses to stretch and strengthen your back
The standing back-bend is a great warm-up pose to prepare your body for the circuit ahead. It will provide an energy boost for the entire body, while opening up the chest and heart chakra.
- Stand in mountain pose and reach both hands overhead.
- Next, lower them to the back of the body, placing both palms on the lower back with fingers pointing down.
- Press through the soles of your feet, draw the knee caps up, and squeeze your thighs and buttocks as you press your hips forward and begin to arch your torso backwards.
- Allow your head to look up to the ceiling and, if it feels right, let it drop all the way back down.
- Use your arms to support your weight and keep your legs and buttocks engaged and strong.
Top tip: Focus on your breath! Deep breaths in and out will increase your oxygen intake to help you feel more alert.
Standing forward fold
A great pose for lengthening the spine, stretching the hamstrings and calves, and soothing the mind.
- From your back bend, return to mountain pose.
- On an exhalation, hinge forward at your hips, keeping a straight back, and bring your hands towards the ground.
- Depending on your flexibility, bring your hands to touch your shins, the floor or a yoga block.
- You can also keep a slight bend in your knees if necessary. Allow your hands and shoulders to relax.
This strong pose will help to improve your balance and posture, whilst stretching and strengthening the feet, ankles, calves and thigh muscles.
- From your forward fold, place both of your hands on the floor, bend your legs, and then step your left foot back. Your right foot is between your hands with your right knee stacked over your right foot.
- Centre your hips by pressing your left hip towards the front of the mat. Then, reach both hands overhead, keeping the shoulders drawn back and the belly pulled in.
- Hold, keeping the weight distributed evenly between both feet.
Related: How to do the Warrior I pose with correct form
A deep forward fold that will help to stretch your hip muscles and hamstrings, whilst lengthening the spine. Great for balance and focus.
- From warrior I, extend your front leg so both legs are straight, inhale, lengthen the spine.
- On the exhalation, hinge from the hips to bring your torso down towards your front leg. Be sure to maintain the length of your spine and the squaring of your hips. Your tailbone reaches behind you as the crown of your head reaches forwards.
- Gaze at your front big toe and hold. For a stronger hamstring stretch, raise the toes of your front foot (pictured).
- Release by bringing hands to hips, pressing firmly through your back heel and gently lifting your torso, using the strength of your belly and not your lower back.
This pose helps to develop Warrior I, by requiring more balance and focus as your body recruits every muscle from your ankles up to your core to stay grounded.
- From pyramid pose, bring your chest back to return to standing.
- Shift your weight forward and onto your right leg as you raise your left leg into the air.
- At the same time, lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor, and reach your arms forwards.
- Aim to fully extend both legs, creating a ‘T’ shape with your body.
- Keep the left hip dropped in line with the right hip and press into the heel for stability.
A great pose to finish the sequence with because it brings all parts of your body back together and into focus, whilst working into your legs, shoulders and upper back.
- From warrior III, lower your back foot down to the ground and then bring it in line with your front foot as your raise your arms overhead.
- Exhale and bend your knees, keeping your inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of your thigh bones down toward your heels.
- Firm your shoulder blades and direct your tailbone down toward the floor, keeping your lower back long as you hold and breathe.
- To come out of this pose, straighten your knees on an inhalation, lifting strongly through your arms. Exhale and release your arms back down to your sides.
Words and model: Lucy Miller | Photography: Eddie Macdonald, Shutterstock | Clothing: PE Nation