Morning workouts might make you think of running with the sunrise, or hitting the gym first thing in the a.m. before your favorite coffee shop is open. But there’s another type of workout that can have big perks if you do it before breakfast: yoga.
Yes, we’re asking you to get literal with your sun salutations (called Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit) and roll out your yoga mat before you’ve even had your coffee. Why? Exercise in general (including walking and even stretching) can come with some significant benefits for your health and well-being. And morning yoga benefits are no exception—research suggests that you may be able to enjoy even more potent benefits from the thousand-year-old practice simply by doing it in the morning. (If you can drag yourself out of bed, that is.) Keep reading to learn more, and check out the 5 Yoga Stretches Everyone Over 40 Should Do, Says Doctor.
Start your morning off with yoga to preemptively fight stress before it even starts. A small 2018 study in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine found that women who did yoga regularly enjoyed reduced stress levels after just 12 sessions. This may be due to the fact that yoga can reduce levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone). A more recent study in the journal Stress & Health found that the “interoceptive awareness” promoted by yoga—aka the awareness of internal body signals and feelings—may also lessen stress. It doesn’t hurt that yoga is inherently spiritual and meditative, which can also combat the effects of stress. (Learn more about the Crazy Things Your Stress Does to Your Body, Say Top Experts.)
Morning exercise in general can help provide a natural energy boost, and yoga appears to be no exception. “Yoga works on unblocking stuck blocks of energy along the spine,” yoga instructor Vyda Bielkus told the Huffington Post—which can help energize the body. Indeed, a 2017 study in the journal Frontiers of Psychology found that just two minutes of yoga poses can improve energy levels and self-esteem.
Sleep in a funky position last night? Yoga can help, especially for lower back pain. A small 2017 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that yoga is as effective as physical therapy for improving lower back pain. It can also provide pain relief for people with arthritis and other chronic conditions. Do it before breakfast and you’ll feel ready to conquer the day.
Getting your blood pumping in the morning doesn’t always have to involve a long run. A 2019 study from Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that doing yoga three times a week was associated with a reduction in blood pressure—especially when combined with meditation and breathing techniques. And check out these other Proven Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Now, Say Doctors.