You might be sore some mornings because of how you slept, what you ate, how hydrated you are (or aren’t) and a myriad of other reasons. Most often, some simple movements can make a huge difference in how alert, supple, and ready you feel at the start of your day.

Three areas of the body that are extremely helpful to work with are the feet, hips, and shoulders. Everything we do starts with the feet as they are made up of massive numbers of nerves, bones and muscles. Feet provide balance and our ability to react to the ground, so our every step and action depend on them. Our hips and shoulders are like the Panama Canal of our body, regulating through their stiffness or openness just how much fluid, nutrition and energy flow through our torso to our limbs.dong fang qi mo

By waking up your feet, hips and shoulders in every conceivable direction through self-care massage and multi-directional movements, you can arouse your entire nervous system and increase blood circulation and nutrition flow through your whole body.

Isn’t that what waking up is supposed to do? I think so too. By the way, open feet, hips and shoulder also means you’ll feel less fatigue all day and less pain as your body experiences less internal resistance. Sign me up!

You can also use your breath as a means to wake up your body and start your day right. The video posted below shows the Yoga Tune Up® 3 Step Breath (and you can also see it and more in the 10 Minute Quick Fix Yoga for Stress Relief video here) that will help start your day with a clear and refreshed mind.

Watch our stress relief videos instantly.

Read how to breath away stress.

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

Alex Iglecia

Alex Iglecia is an experienced body-mind coach, trainer, teacher and innovator in the San Francisco Bay Area, focusing on the intersection of conscious movement, transformative practices, yoga, and effective action in a purpose-filled life. His background includes engineering, graphic and presentation design, yoga and body-mind research, psychology of effective hand-to-hand combat, lots of study, strong project management and events planning, outreach, and much more. For more about me or to view my Yoga Tune Up® class schedule go here or visit my website at You can also follow me on twitter.

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Marta Hanrahan

What a great way to get things circulating in the morning! Thanks for the share!

Leanne W.

This post informs me on how to get up on the “right” side of the bed! Mindful movement, therapy ball rolling and breath are the ways to unstick the fuzzy fascia and to feel awake and energized.


I think it is very important that yoga, YTU, and other exercises help charge your body up for the day, a good breathing regimen is another good way to wake your body.


I always knew that it is good to get range of motion going in the morning as part of your routine, but never thought about it as an aid to wake up your nervous system.

Jamie Walsh

Used this breathing technique during our YTU training. I will need to try this again in my personal practice in the morning. Thanks for the post.

Mindy Porell

I do wake up achy in the morning. I plan to be mindful of bringing awareness to and opening up my feet, hips and shoulders to start the day right.

aniela eva

Morning times were some of the worst times for me. Stiff as a board and grumpy. I fiqured I just had to deal with it and eventually it would disapate throughout the day after exercise. Now I have some simple tools to awaken and enliven the body that dosnt have to be hours at the gym. I like the idea of nourishing and energizing the body this way. Better then a cup of coffee in so many ways!

Ranghild Helmberger

First thing I do in the morining when I feel stiff is ball rolling and doing some exercises for my shoulders and at the end I do breathe techniques. Doing this is a great start in the new day

Jason Koh

Ah, finally someone talks about the importance of massaging the feet first thing in the morning. If the feet are happy, then a lot of other things up the body chain find a way to work themselves out. Ask anyone who’s ever suffered from plantar fasciitis. Also, talking about the breath is important for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that after you’ve loosened up your feet, hips, and shoulders, the breath is what can help us peacefully elongate and naturally stack one on top of the other for great stability with minimal effort.

Beth Giorgi

I agree that rolling in the am is most satisfying! I have done it several times when m body has felt stiff from waking up. It is a relief to know that I have something to help me out that makes me feel that my body will be okay and I will have a great day! Love rolling the feet!

Sylvia del Valle Garcia

Really enjoyed your post. I’ve added rolling to my morning routine BEFORE sitting on the cushion and the difference in how I feel when I stand up is quite remarkable now. Gone are the stiff leg muscles, tingling in the feet and sore gluts…just a freshness and lightness of BEing.

Ali Bell

Good to know morning stiffness not just something that I can expect with my increasing age – but something that can be eradicated. Liked the Panama Canal analogy- makes me wonder if sleeping position creates ‘dams’ in those canals?

Heather Dawson

Great timing for me to read your article, I totally agree as I woke up this morning and the soles of my feet hurt, rolling them out with the yoga tune-up balls made a huge difference.

Cindy Thomas

The simplicity of your blog carries a great message and reminder for me. A daily am. dose of YTU for the of feet , hips and shoulders, is a great way to start the day. In my experience, I know the body loves and functions best with consistency. Why wait till something major happens to react and take care of oneself?? Jill’s video on the3 step breathing technique was a timely review for me. Just coming back home from Level 1 Training, it was one of the breathing technique I remembered. I taught it at the Cancer Centre yesterday, so… Read more »


From my experience the tempo of our live grows on and on. Wery often I go to bed after mindnight and wake up at around 6 or 7. When alarm rings I jump out of the bed and run to the bathroom. To be true that is what I used to do . But now, since last year, I have a dog named Mila who leeps on the floor next to my bed. And I started to observ Mila. After waking up she starts to alongate her limbs, to rich forword with it, to flex and extend her spin. What… Read more »


Recently, I’ve been increasingly realizing how important morning routines are, in the broadest sense. Having a well-structured, low-stress, robot-like first hour of the day makes a huge different for the rest of my day.

In terms of opening muscles and facilitating breathing, as you mentioned, I think this not only wakes up the body, but sets a precedent for you to pay attention to these things throughout the day, which translates to better posture, deeper breathing, and overall better mind/body relations.

Nikola Michaud

Hi Alex, thanks for sharing. I’ve tried waking up to some tune-up a few times it and loved it. Your post reminded me how much it started my day on the right foot and hopefully, it’ll be the push I needed to integrate it in my morning routine.
Keep at it


This brought to mind a discussion I had with a participant in one of my senior chair yoga classes. She told me of the stiffness she experiences in her hips as she gets up in the morning and asked what to do throughout the day to alleviate it. My response was to start earlier – before you get out of bed and before those feet hit the floor. I love your explanation that it will help “arouse your entire nervous system and increase blood circulation and nutrition flow through your whole body” – great information! Also reminded of 3 part… Read more »


Thanks for these great ideas, Alex. I used to teach a similar energizing pranayama to my clients but I found they would get lost trying to remember the steps, especially early in the AM. I love how simple and effective this breathing practice is. I’m going to try it this week and offer it to my clients as a way of centering and energizing before stepping out into their day.

rie katagiri

I feel such a huge difference in my days when I use YTU techniques and when i don’t. I feel sluggish in my arms and legs and it takes me a lot of caffeine to wake up my brain. I wonder why I ever skip out on rolling out my feet, hips, shoulders and back with YTU balls…….I think I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution! thanks.

Nikki Wong

This makes a lot of sense. Often when we wake up in the morning, it’s not about waking up (literally) the body and more of, “ugh, I have to get up and get the day started, making kids breakfast, packing lunches, going to work, etc.” This 3 step breath can easily be done while still in bed to slowly awaken instead of starting the nervous system and as you get out of bed, grounding the feet, everting, inverting and then making the way up towards the hips with a few easy flexions and extensions, then shoulder rolls or even pranic… Read more »


Steve, movement matters! Stay awake 🙂 Let us know how your experiments go.


Alex, In your article, you touch an interesting topic which until today, I never really paid any real close attention to. One’s ability to arouse our entire nervous system and increase blood circulation and nutrition flow through the body. Feet, shoulders and hips are a major focus in my life. Learning and implementing YTU techniques in those regions have, at least for me, proven to be quite beneficial to my everyday. That said, I’ve never really attempted on using YTU tools as my morning cup of Java. However, anything that will allow me to develop a deeper relationship on how… Read more »


Waking up with attention to feet first then hips and shoulders is sound advice, since we start our walk from the ground up. Breath is another critical point to focus and and get right with. The video here is a simple exercise to engage. I like working the exercise of a 3 part breath by inhaling for 4 sec. hold (kumbhaka) 8sec. exhale 8sec, Do this and you work a 20 second breath count-3 of those cycles and you can count a minute. A super good thing to do when on break at work making it a practice on a… Read more »


This suggested breathing 3 step process along with the awakening of the feet, hips and shoulders with or without the YTU balls is such a nice segway into everyday living!

Terry Littlefield

I will have to check out the stress reduction video because I wake up stiff and sore almost every morning. I sit in meditation every morning but I have never started the morning with 3-part breath. I like the idea of having more energy during the day and also taking care of the feet which we completely and totally abuse all day, every day. I often think my hip issues stem from my “bad” feet. I have a very narrow foot and most of my life have worn shoes that don’t fit properly. That’s one of the many reasons I… Read more »

Dawn Adams

All of yoga and life begins with breath. I love the idea of starting the day with a breath practice like this to mobilize the diaphragm and wake up the rest of the body with a flow of fresh oxygen. It seems like this is something we could all incorporate at different points throughout the day when we need to hit the reset button to be able to meet the challenges we all face as yogis and ordinary people.


yes sign me up too! I sometimes do stretches before I get up since sometimes I am extra stiff. For me it’s not always from not exercising but sometimes I over do it or do things the day before I am not used to. I have gotten in the habit of stretching in bed before I am up so I don’t injure myself from doing simple things. Sometimes it does pay off. Thank you Alex for your article.


I need to figure out how to get this in when I need to wake up before dawn to teach early classes! Can this be practiced, say, in the car? Or is it necessary to be reclining?


On days that I would wake up sore and tight due to yoga and being a massage therapist and had a full day ahead of me, I have used Yoga Tune Up exercises and ball work to open areas like my pecs, shoulders, hips, and feet. It brought tremendous relief to me and allowed to stay grounded and present to what is going on in my students and clients body, rather than my own in the moments I am interacting with them.