6 Wake-Up Yoga Poses to Boost Energy and Jump-Start Digestion

Your caffeine-free guide to waking up your brain and body.

Coffee. Oh, beloved coffee. Many of us are lost without it. But — while we wouldn’t dare urge you to abandon your caffeine addiction altogether — it is worth noting that there are other ways to wake up your brain and body.

Case in point: Here, Maura Manzo, co-founder of Conshohocken’s Yoga Home (you may recognize her from this year’s Be Well Philly Boot Camp) walks us through six very doable (read: beginner-friendly) yoga poses that will help give you a dose of caffeine-free energy when you wake up (or when you need a 2 p.m. energy boost), along with jump-starting your digestion and gearing you up for a day spent at a desk. Check ’em out below.

Downdog

How to do it:
“Starting on your hands and knees, step your feet back to come into a push-up position. Pike your hips up to the sky to come into downward-facing dog. Spread your fingers wide and press your hands firmly into the ground. Lift your hips high as you press your chest toward your thighs. Pull the belly in and stretch your heels to the ground. Peddle out the legs one at a time, bending one knee and then the other. Take 10 deep breaths in and out of your nose.”

Why you should do it:
“Downdog activates all the largest muscle groups in the body. Because you are inverted, blood and lymphatic fluid are recirculated, making this pose both energizing and detoxifying.”

Low Lunge

How to do it:
“From downdog, step your right foot between your hands lining your knee up directly over your ankle. Bring the left knee to the mat and keep the left toes curled under. Bring your hands to your hips as you lift the torso up. Interlace the hands behind the back. Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Let your hips descend as you continue to lift your chest, reaching the knuckles towards your back heels. Take five to 10 deep, slow breaths and then repeat on the other side.”

Why you should do it:
“This variation of low lunge works the legs but also the chest and shoulders. There is a backbend quality to this pose making it stimulating and invigorating — perfect for waking up and getting your heart rate elevated.”

Wide Leg FF

How to do it:
“From the top of your mat, step your feet wide apart into a standing straddle. Your feet should be parallel and actively pressing into the ground. Fold forward, bringing your hands to the mat in line with the feet. Stretch the crown of your head towards the ground, as you reach the tail bone to the sky. Take 10 deep and slow breaths.”

Why you should do it:
“This pose both stretches and strengthens the legs and at the same time is calming for the mind. It is a great pose to help you feel grounded as you step into your day.”

Side Plank

How to do it:
“From downdog, slide the chest forward to set up plank pose, shoulders over the wrist. Keep the belly firm and the arm squeezing in as you drop both heels to the right, stacking the feet. Stretch your left arm to the sky. Tone the legs as you stretch through the heels. Hold for five to 10 breaths and then switch sides.”

Why you should do it:
“Core work always gets the heart pumping! This pose also helps to stretch and strengthen the wrists, preparing you for all the texting and typing you do all day.”

Dolphin

How to do it:
“From plank pose, lower the knees to the ground and come on to your forearms. Line up your elbows underneath your shoulder and press the hands firmly down. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips to the sky, similar to downdog. Actively press your chest to your thighs, keep the belly firm and descend the heels. Take five to 10 breaths.”

Why you should do it:
“This pose is an inversion and an arm balance so it’s a combo of strengthening, stretching and core work. Because you are upside down, you’re also stimulating your digestion!”

Seated Twist

How to do it:
“Come to a cross-legged seated position. Sit with a long spine and belly engaged. Reach the arms to the sky and twist to the right, bringing your left hand to your right knee and right hand behind your spine on the ground. Actively lengthen the spine and draw the belly in and up. Squeeze the obliques to gently move deeper into the twist, gazing over your right shoulder. Hold for five to seven breaths and then switch sides.”

Why you should do it:
“This twisted pose stimulates the digestive tract, tones the abdominals and opens the lower back. It’s a great pose to support optimal spine health and counteract all time you spend sitting at a desk.”

As a final point, Maura notes, “When you’re finished this sequence, just sit quietly with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths and imagine your day — see yourself showing up fully present, awake and alive to your own amazing potential. Remember how incredibly awesome you are!” Here’s to happier, more energized mornings, friends!

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