Use this five-step morning yoga routine to boost your energy levels and improve your mobility

With the mornings getting darker, it can sometimes feel impossible to get out of bed. This yoga instructor's five-step routine can help

Woman doing morning yoga practice at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting out of bed in winter can sometimes feel like a mountainous challenge, particularly if you're waking up before the sun. In preparation for the darkest days, we spoke to yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor, who gave us her five favorite poses to help energize you in the mornings. 

"Try this practice in the morning to shake off any winter sluggishness and set you up for the day ahead," she suggests. 

The moves should warm up your muscles and give you a gentle stretch, so you can start your day feeling limber. 

Headshot of Michelle Taylor
Michelle Maslin-Taylor

Michelle is an experienced yoga teacher and reiki master. She first started practicing yoga over 15 years ago and found it instrumental to overcoming depression and anxiety. She is a writer and teacher, delivering specialist workshops both online and in-person in the UK. 

1. Downward Dog

Yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor demonstrates downward dog

(Image credit: Michelle Taylor)

How to do it:

  • Start from tabletop pose on all-fours, with the hands positioned under the shoulders, knees positioned under the hips and fingers spread wide. 
  • Tuck your toes under and push your hips up and back, into a downward dog position. 
  • Peddle the feet, slowly bending one knee and pressing the heel of the foot on the opposite leg down. Switch sides a few times before coming to stillness and holding the pose for a few breaths. Bend your knees gently if you need to, lengthening the spine and keeping your gaze towards your tummy. Take five or so rounds of breath here.

2. Warrior two

Warrior two demonstrated by yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor

(Image credit: Michelle Taylor)

How to do it:

  • Moving from the above downward dog position, take a big step forward and place your right foot between your hands. Push firmly into the feet as you bring your body up into a high lunge. Turn your back foot parallel with the back of your yoga mat and open your arms to shoulder height, stretching fingertips to the font and the back of the room and bending your front knee. 
  • Inhale to straighten the front leg and reach arms up above the head. Exhale to come back in to Warrior 2, repeating this three times before pausing in the pose for three to five more breaths. 

3. Tree pose

Tree pose demonstrated by yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor

(Image credit: Michelle Taylor)

How to do it:

  • Starting from a standing position at the top of your mat, take a moment to focus your attention on your feet, finding even balance between the two and becoming aware of all the parts of your feet that are in contact with the mat. 
  • Take a few breaths with your eyes closed before shifting your weight into your left foot. Bend the right knee and lift it, placing the sole of the foot on the inside of your left thigh or your left shin. If you need more support, keep the sole of your foot facing in towards your leg but let the toes rest on the mat for support. 
  • Focus on keeping the hips facing forward and engaging the muscles in the legs to keep yourself steady. Hands can be placed at the heart in prayer or pushed up above the head. 
  • To come out of the position, release the right foot back down, sweep the arms down and fold over the legs. Place hands down to the mat and step back to downward dog. Bend the knees and bring them down to the mat, back into a tabletop position.

4. Child's pose

Yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor demonstrates child's pose

(Image credit: Michelle Taylor)

How to do it:

  • From hands and knees, sink your hips back towards your heels and wrap your arms behind you with palms facing up. Allow the body to rest over the thighs and focus your awareness on the sensation of the breath, noticing how you can feel your chest rise and fall with each breath. Stay for five to ten rounds of breath.

5. Spinal twist

Spinal twist demonstrated by yoga teacher Michelle Maslin-Taylor

(Image credit: Michelle Taylor)

How to do it:

  • Come to lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the mat and knees pointing up towards the ceiling. 
  • Shift the hips slightly to the left before letting the knees fall to the right, keeping the left shoulder blade anchored down. You may like to also turn the head, taking the gaze over the opposite shoulder.  

Maslin-Taylor recommends ending your practice with Corpse Pose: "Be sure to finish off in savsana (corpse pose) for at least 5 minutes to soak in the benefits of the practice and allow the body to fully relax, calming the nervous system," she says. "Expect to leave your mat feeling stretched and refreshed, with the energy to take on your winters day." 

Corpse pose is completed by lying on your back, arms by your sides, legs slightly apart and completely relaxing your muscles. Much like a corpse!

Need help choosing a new yoga mat? See our guide to the best yoga mats of 2023

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.