Awaken the Animal – 7 Basic Yoga Stretches You Should Do Every Morning

How often have you stared at the coffee pot, trying to get started in the morning? I know I do the same many days, when I don’t quite have the mental energy to start doing pushups or burpees. Then I started noticing what my dog was doing when she woke up. Every single day, the same routine. She was doing a few basic yoga stretches!

Abby’s three stretches, in order:

  1. Down Dog
  2. Up Dog
  3. Happy Baby

I started copying her, not trying to do too much, too early, but paying attention to how other animals roused themselves from sleep. If you pay attention, you see that most animals begin their day stretching, or walking around. Besides coffee, maybe this could help me, and you!

When you wake up in the morning, try these basic yoga stretches, demonstrated by animals. If you like, start small and just do the up dog to down dog stretch. Then move to cat and cow, and cobra to frog. Camel is a more advanced yoga stretch, and may not be the best for early mornings, unless you’re also advanced!

1. Up Dog Pose

Up Dog Yoga Stretch

Up Dog Yoga Stretch

2. Down Dog Pose

Up and down dog are usually performed in a sequence, balancing out the stretch and the muscle groups involved. Click here to see the video.


Down Dog Yoga Stretch

3. Cobra

At first glance, cobra and up dog look very similar, and they are. But notice the incline of the neck. In cobra, the eyes are set forward, as a cobra would watch its prey. Also, the shoulders are stable and thrust back, providing a more striking look to the eyes staring forward.

Mr Bikram himself!

Mr Bikram himself!

Watch this video to get a visual picture of what the differences are.

4. Cat Pose

Like up and down dog, the cat and cow poses are usually performed in a sequence, balancing out the stretch and the muscle groups involved. Keep your legs bent at 90 degrees and at a comfortable place on your mat.

Cat Pose Yoga Stretch

Cat Pose Yoga Stretch

5. Cow Pose

I couldn’t tell you why this is called the Cow pose, because I’ve never seen a cow doing anything besides standing or laying down. So here’s a lady with wonderful form.

Cow Pose Yoga Stretch

Cow Pose Yoga Stretch

6. Frog Pose


Frog Pose Yoga Stretch

For the human version of the frog pose, click here.

7. Camel Pose

If like me, you believed the name comes from the stretch being similar to hump formed by the yogi’s chest as he or she stretches their head back towards the heels. Well, we’re wrong. Here’s the real scoop;

Sure, bending backward makes your body resemble a camel’s hump, but when a camel sits down it does so by first bending its knees and then folding its legs beneath its body. When it’s ready to get back up it does the same thing: bends its knees before standing up. In the setup for Camel Pose you “stand” on your knees before bending backward. You do the same at the end of the posture – just like a camel!

Camel Pose Stretch

So as you wake up tomorrow, just think of how the animals move when they wake up. Slow but purposeful movement that awakes the body and shakes out the stiffness of a night’s sleep. These seven basic yoga stretches will help you do just that.