4 Energy-Boosting Yoga Moves to Do Before Breakfast

By Lauren Bedosky |

This quick flow prepares your mind and body for the day ahead.

morning yoga

Your alarm goes off. Now what?

If you don’t have an answer—or your answer involves the snooze button—you’re missing out on the many benefits of establishing a morning ritual.

“Having any kind of ritual or routine first thing in the morning is a nice way to mentally prepare for your day ahead,” says Terry Cockburn, a yoga instructor and owner of Freeport Yoga Company in Freeport, Maine.

If that ritual is a quick yoga routine, you’ll get the added bonus of checking in with your body after several hours of inactivity.

“You want to target areas that might be stiff and weak,” Cockburn says. “Waking up your spine is key, since it’s involved in every move you make throughout the day, from reaching to pull a plate out of the kitchen cupboard to standing in line at the grocery store to bending down to pet your dog.”

Taking care of your spine is especially important as you get older and spinal degeneration becomes more common, making everyday tasks difficult and even painful.

Doing a few simple yoga poses that move your spine in every direction can go a long way in keeping your spine mobile and healthy. Plus, research shows a regular yoga practice can help boost energy levels and overall well-being in older adults.

How the Morning Yoga Flow Works

For best results, Cockburn recommends doing the four yoga poses below 30 to 60 minutes after waking.

“First, do a little bit of walking meditation, or if you can, go outside and walk in your garden or a nearby park,” she suggests. “Then, go into your physical practice.”

When you’re ready, do three to five reps of each movement below in order—maybe while your coffee is brewing.

As always, safety is key. The yoga poses here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

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Yoga Pose #1: Standing Cat-Cow

This movement improves spine mobility while stretching the front and back of your body.

Do 3 to 5 reps

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees and hips facing forward. With a slight bend in your knees, place your hands on your upper thighs, and draw your elbows behind you. From here, slowly inhale as you lift your chest and move your butt back. This is cow.

As you exhale, pull your belly in toward your spine, bending your knees and rounding your back as if rounding over a beach ball in front of you. This is cat. Alternate between cow and cat for three to five full breaths.

You can also perform this movement while seated.

Yoga Pose #2: Lateral Bend

Lateral movements help with real-life activities like reaching for an object on a shelf or bending down to scratch your knee.

Do 3 to 5 reps

Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Let your arms hang down on both sides of your body.

From here, gently bend to the right at your waist, extending your right hand as far toward the floor as comfortable. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep. Continue alternating for three to five reps total.

If you don’t have a chair or simply prefer standing, perform this movement standing.

Yoga Pose #3: Spinal Rotation

Twisting from one side to the other translates into everyday movements like looking over your shoulder to back out of a parking space.

Do 3 to 5 reps per side

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Inhale as you lengthen the crown of your head up toward the ceiling. Keeping your hips facing forward, exhale and twist to the left from your belly button to your head.

Inhale back to center and repeat, this time twisting to the right. Continue alternating sides for three to five breaths per side.

You can also perform this movement while seated.

Yoga Pose #4: Tree

This final pose is less about waking up your spine—like the others—and more about improving balance to reduce risk of falls.

“It’s important to continue to be able to balance on one leg as you age,” Cockburn says, adding that you can work on your single-leg balance many times throughout your day—while you brew coffee, boil water, sort mail, or even read the newspaper.

Hold for 3 to 5 breaths per side

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and your toes, knees, and hips facing forward. Shift your weight to your left foot. Turn your right toes slightly out, lift your heel, and draw it toward your left foot like a kickstand.

Draw you belly in for support, stand tall, and breathe for three to five breaths. You can bring your palms together in front of your chest or hold on to a wall, counter, or sturdy chair for support. Return to standing on both feet, and repeat on the other side.

Make it harder: Place the sole of your lifted foot inside the calf of your standing leg.

For a bigger challenge: Place the sole of your lifted foot on the inner thigh of your standing leg. To keep your knees safe, never place your foot on the knee of your standing leg. If you’d like, raise your arms toward the ceiling.

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