Morning Yoga poses to get your spine moving

Dr Elizabeth Johns

As my patients know, I love being an osteopath! I’m also very passionate about yoga, as it integrates my love for movement therapy with a mindful breath practice.

I often share yoga with my patients. The benefits of synchronising movement with breath whilst stretching and strengthening your muscles has effects far beyond just our physical bodies. 

I really wanted to share with you all a couple of my favourite yoga poses that I do regularly to get my spine moving, to connect with my breath and to be present in my body!

When practicing these poses, it is important to listen to your body. Enjoy feeling your way through the poses and don’t push yourself into any shapes that don’t feel right for you. These are my go-to morning yoga poses to move my spine in all directions before I commence my day.

Sitting with your breath

Sit comfortably with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom, to ensure your knees are below your hips. Take a moment to become aware of your breath.

Observe the inhalation as it enters through your nose then into your lungs, expanding your lower ribs and abdomen. As you exhale, notice the gentle drawing in of the belly as the breath passes out from your body.

Spend a couple minutes observing and feeling the cycle of your breath as you breathe in and out through your nose.



Seated Side Bend

Begin seated with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom, to ensure your knees are below your hips.

As you inhale, raise both hands out to the side and up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, place your right hand on the floor beside you and reach your left arm overhead to the right.

Feel the stretch through the whole left side of your body. Keep your left sit-bone grounded and stay lifted through the right side of your body.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths. On your next inhalation guide your arms up overhead and then side bend to the other side. 

Seated Forward Fold

Begin seated with your legs crossed. You may like to place a rolled up towel under your bottom to ensure your knees are below your hips.

As you inhale, breathe deep into your belly and feel your spine lengthen. As you exhale, walk your hands in front of you and slowly fold forward, hinging at your hips.

Keep breathing deep into your belly, allowing the shoulders to soften with the exhalation. You may notice opportunity to fold a little further with the exhalation.

Spend 5-10 breaths in this pose then repeat, swapping the way that your legs are crossed.


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Child’s Pose

Begin in a four point kneel. As you exhale send your pelvis back towards your heels and walk your hands out in front of you. Your knees can be close together or wide apart. If your pelvis does not sit comfortably on your heels, you can place a rolled up towel or pillow under your bottom.

Continue to breathe comfortably, allowing the belly to soften towards the mat. You may like to close your eyes, internalising your awareness on the subtle movement of the spine with each breath.

Hold pose for 10-15 breaths.

Cat Cow Flow

Begin in four point kneel - Hands under shoulder, knees under hips.

Cow Pose: As you inhale, lift your gaze, let the belly drop and allow the pelvis to tilt forward so that you create a gentle arch in your back.

Cat Pose: As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor as you curl your back and pelvis. Push your hands into the ground to feel a stretch through your upper back as you gaze down towards your belly button.

Flow between cat and cow, synchronising movement with your breath.

Cow pose with inhalation

Cow pose with inhalation

Cat pose with exhalation

Cat pose with exhalation

Low lunge

Begin in four point kneel. You can place a blanket or towel under your knees for added comfort. Step your right foot between your hands keeping the right knee in line over the right toes.

Inhale into the belly and raise both arms up overhead. Feel and opening through the front of your chest, belly and pelvic region. Allow the spine to lengthen on the inhalation. As you exhale, there may be opportunity to sink into the stretch a little more. Stay open through the front of the body and avoid slumping the lower back.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths then change sides.



Hamstring stretch

From a low lunge gently straighten your front leg; your front leg may straighten completely, or you may be more comfortable with a bend in the knee. Keep the front leg active by lifting the toes up towards the ceiling.

Ease further into the stretch with your breath. Be sure to listen to your body as your lengthen with the inhalation and gently forward fold on the exhalation. Your hands can be placed on blocks, a blanket or on the floor.

This pose will encourage a stretch through the back of your leg. To ease the tension you can keep the head lifted or bend your knee more. To feel more of a stretch you can draw your chin to your chest as you fold forward.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths and change sides.

Hip Circumduction

Begin laying on your back with your legs outstretched. Keep one leg straight and active while you pull the other knee towards your belly. Hold onto the bent leg with both hands clasped together below the knee. You can hold onto the shin or back of the hamstrings, whatever is more comfortable for you.

Breathe deeply into your lower ribs and belly. Use your clasped hands to guide your hip through circumduction. Continue to gently guide the hip through circumduction as you breath.

Remember to stay active through the straight leg, you may feel a stretch through the front of the straight leg’s hip.

Hold pose for 5-10 full breaths and change sides.


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Rest and reflect - Savasana

In savasana, we take the time to rest and integrate the changes of a freshly stretched body. It is the perfect way to finish your mindful movement and breath practice. Lay on the floor and allow your breath and body to be passive. You may like to close your eyes.

Rest here for 5-10 minutes.