This 10-move morning yoga routine boosts flexibility and your mood

This instructor's equipment-free yoga session is a great way to move your body and start your day

Karina Blackwood in Warrior II pose
(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

Are you feeling stiff and unmotivated in the morning? This 10-move morning yoga routine boosts flexibility and your mood, giving you a physical and mental boost ready to take on the day. 

While some yoga classes require straps, blocks, or other equipment, you don't need anything but one of the best yoga mats for this quick routine first thing in the morning. 

If you struggle to find time at the end of the day to practice, a morning yoga routine is a great way to get the benefits of yoga without having to adjust your schedule. 

Yoga instructor Karina Blackwood agrees. "Yoga flow in the morning can be a great way to energize the body and mind for the day ahead," she says. That's why she curated these 10 yoga poses you can turn into a morning yoga routine. 

Karina Blackwood

Karina Blackwood is a certified yoga and Pilates instructor based in New York City. She is also the founder of NYC Stretching, offering online flexibility classes and courses for beginners and experienced exercisers. 

10-move morning yoga routine

This short routine is designed to ease your body and mind into the day. You don't need any special equipment, but it's worth rolling out a yoga mat if you've got one for underfoot support. 

"These poses are beginner-friendly and can be practiced sequentially to create a simple yet effective morning yoga flow. This flow can help stretch and strengthen the body while promoting relaxation and focus," Blackwood explains. 

This routine is a form of yoga flow, where you can smoothly transition between poses instead of finishing one and starting the next. You can use Blackwood's instructions to easily progress into the next pose. 

1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)

Karina Blackwood standing in Mountain pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

"By standing tall with the feet hip-width apart, the spine elongates, and the shoulders naturally roll back. This improves overall body alignment, reduces slouching, and promotes an upright and confident posture," says Blackwood.

Mountain pose also encourages you to engage your leg and feet muscles, which improves proprioception (awareness of body position) and strengthens the muscles in the feet, ankles, and legs, enhancing stability and reducing the risk of falls. 

  • Stand with your feet parallel, big toes touching, and heels slightly separated.
  • Raise your toes, spreading them out and placing them back on the mat. 
  • Keeping your ribs stacked and not forward, lift your chest toward the ceiling. Draw your shoulder blades together and down.
  • Relax your arms at your sides, with your palms facing forward.
  • Keep your head over your hips and your gaze directly ahead.

2. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)

Karina Blackwood in a standing forward fold

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

The standing forward fold pose stretches the hamstrings, calves, and spine while calming the mind and relieving stress, according to Blackwood. It can also help stimulate digestion and improve circulation.

  • Adopt a mountain pose posture, lifting your chest towards the ceiling with arms by your side. 
  • From this position, hinge forward from the hips, allowing your upper body to hang over your legs. 

3.Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Karina Blackwood in a downward-facing dog pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

"Downward-facing dog stretches your entire body, particularly the hamstrings, shoulders, and calves. It also strengthens the arms, shoulders, and core while improving blood flow and energizing the body," explains Blackwood.

  • From the forward fold pose, place your hands on the floor and step your feet back one at a time to come into a high plank.
  • Lift your hips up and back, forming an inverted V-shape with your body. 

4. Child's pose (Balasana)

Karina Blackwood in child's pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

Child's pose is a passive stretch that "releases tension in the back, shoulders, and neck while calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation and introspection," says Blackwood.

  • Return to a high plank position, then place your knees on the floor one at a time.
  • Kneel on the floor, bring your hips back to rest on the heels, and fold your torso forward, reaching your arms out. 

5. Cat-cow stretch (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)

Cat-cow is a flowing movement that increases spinal flexibility, massages the spine, and stretches the neck and torso. "It also helps improve coordination between breath and movement, enhancing overall body awareness," adds Blackwood.

  • From child's pose, place your hands on the mat and lean forward to come onto all fours.
  • On all fours, arch the back up like a cat (cat pose), then drop the belly and lift your chest (cow pose). 

6. Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)

Karina Blackwood in cobra pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

Cobra pose strengthens the back muscles, stretches the chest and shoulders, and improves spinal flexibility. According to Blackwood it can also enhance digestion, relieve lower back pain, and boost your mood.

  • Lie on your belly, and place your palms on the ground near your shoulders. 
  • Lift your chest into the air while keeping your hips grounded. 

7. Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Karina Blackwood in Warrior II pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

According to Blackwood, Warrior II pose can help strengthen the legs, hips, and core while improving balance and stability. "It cultivates focus, endurance, and a sense of inner strength," and is a great morning yoga flow for beginners pose. 

  • From cobra pose, push back to your knees.
  • Raise your hips to come into a forward fold.
  • Slowly raise to standing and come into mountain pose.
  • Step one foot back, bend the front knee, and open the arms parallel to the ground, with the gaze over the front fingertips. 

8. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

Karina Blackwood in triangle pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

The triangle pose stretches your hamstrings, hips, and side body while strengthening the legs and core. "It improves balance, stimulates digestion, and enhances overall body alignment and posture," says Blackwood.

  • Start in Warrior II position and straighten your bent knee.
  • Stand with legs wide apart, and reach one arm towards the front foot and the opposite arm towards the sky while keeping your legs straight.

9.Tree pose (Vrikshasana)

Karina Blackwood in tree pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

"Balancing in tree pose strengthens the standing leg, improves stability and posture, and stretches the hip and inner thigh muscles. It also cultivates concentration, calmness, and a connection to nature," explains Blackwood.

  • Start in triangle pose and return to standing, with feet together on the mat. 
  • Stand tall, shift your weight onto one foot, and set the opposite foot on the inner thigh or calf.
  • Balance for a breath before returning to standing.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

10. Corpse pose (Savasana)

Karina Blackwood in corpse pose

(Image credit: Karina Blackwood)

"Savasana is a restful and meditative pose that promotes deep relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, and allows the body to integrate the benefits of the yoga practice. It helps restore energy, calm the mind, and cultivate inner peace," says Blackwood.

  • Stand with your feet parallel, big toes touching, and heels slightly separated.
  • Perform a forward fold, then come onto your knees on the mat. 
  • Place your feet out in front of you.
  • Lie flat on your back, arms relaxed by your sides, and allow your body to relax completely. 

This energizing morning yoga routine is an ideal way to start your day and build the mind-muscle connection to make you more aware of your body and allow thoughts to come and go, rather than getting caught up in them. 

It's a bit like learning how to meditate, but you get to move your body instead of sitting still for a short while. That's why yoga is sometimes called known as movining meditation. 

Blackwood's routine has several popular poses like child's pose, cobra, and downward-facing dog that engage your whole body and help settle your mind, but you don't have to practice them in a flow like this.

These holds are also some of the top yoga stretches for beginners, and you can do them as part of a class, workout, or just when you have a spare moment throughout the day.

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel is a lifelong health and fitness enthusiast with 15 years of experience, a certified personal trainer, and a fitness writer with bylines at Livestrong, Verywell, and Insider. She is passionate about clearly and accessibly communicating actionable and science-based fitness advice. Alongside her writing, Rachel also holds several certifications, including nutrition, prenatal/postpartum exercise, and pain-free performance. She lives in coastal Eastern Canada, and her hobbies include jiu-jitsu, hiking, and trips to the beach.