Improving Health


Three Yoga Poses to Start Every Morning

Posted by Mairead Callahan, RDN, CPT on July 15, 2017

How you start your day can influence how you think, feel, and act the rest of the day. Start your day with a short peaceful, positive, and centering yoga practice. You do not need to make it to the studio and practice for a full hour to benefit from a daily yoga. Start every day with these three simple poses and you will be more centered, more open, and physically healthier. Repeat each pose 5 times and you will feel great starting your day.

  1. Cat-Cow 

 Cat-cow is a great way to wake up your spine in the morning.

 Start on all fours, bringing the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backwards through the tail bone. This is the position of a neutral spine. Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine.  Drop your belly, but keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine. Take your gaze up toward the ceiling. Let the movement in the spine start from your tailbone, so that your neck is the last part to move. Round your spine. Drop your head. Take your gaze to your navel. Repeat the cat-cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath. Continue for 5-10 breaths, moving the whole spine. After your final exhale, come back to a neutral spine.


 2. Downward Dog

 Downward dog is a full body stretch, working out the back legs and the arms.

 Come to your hands and knees with the wrists underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Curl the toes under and push back raising the hips and straightening the legs. Spread your fingers and ground down from your forearms into the fingertips. Outwardly rotate the upper arms broadening the collarbones.  Let the head hang, move the shoulder blades away from the ears towards the hips. Engage the quadriceps strongly to take the weight off the arms, making this a resting pose. Rotate the thighs inward, keep the tail high and sink your heels towards the floor. Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct by coming forward to a plank position. The distance between the hands and feet should be the same in these two poses. Do not step the feet toward the hands in Down Dog in order to get the heels to the floor. This will happen eventually as the muscles lengthen


 3. Standing Forward Fold

 Standing forward fold is a great stretch for not only in the morning, but also after you have been sitting for a few hours at your computer or your desk during the day.  This pose will work out your legs and your back after sleeping and after long periods of sitting.


 From a standing position with your arms straight up above your head, swan dive the arms out to the side while folding forward. Make sure the fold come from the hips, deepening the hip creases, and not from the back. Bring the fingertips in line with the toes and press the palms flat. Engage the quadriceps muscles of the thighs. The more you use your quads, the more the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of the thighs) will open up. Bring your weight a little bit forward into the balls of your feet so that your hips stay over the ankles. Let your head hang.



Mairead Callahan, RDN, CPT

About The Author

Mairead Callahan, RDN, CPT

Mairead is a registered dietitian, media personality, and founder of the popular health and wellness blog "My Healthy Ending." She studied Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, completed her supervised practice at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. Mairead’s philosophy is grounded in the power of whole foods, plant-based nutrition, and an active lifestyle.

Post Topics Fitness, Healthy Lifestyles