Morning Stretches to Start Your Day
Including some stretching in your daily morning routine can help you feel energized throughout the day. That could mean you can skip that coffee until mid-morning, when you might need it more.
Stretching can also help you go into the day with higher levels of confidence. The stretching sequence described here can take less than 10 minutes. You can increase your stretching time by staying in poses for a few more breaths, repeating stretches or repeating the whole sequence.
Good stretching can really make a difference in how both your body and your mind start the day.
Equipment needed: For all these poses, a yoga mat is a good. If you don't have a yoga mat, you should be on a carpet or stable rug to cushion your knees.
This restorative pose is great for gently stretching out your hips, pelvis, thighs, and spine, all of which can be a bit tight in the morning. It can feel great if you've slept a little "wrong" or twisted up. It also calms the brain and relieves stress and fatigue.
Muscles worked: These stretches lengthen your gluteus maximus, piriformis, other rotators, hamstrings, spinal extensors, and more.
- Begin on all fours on the mat, with your knees directly under your hips but your big toes touching. You can widen your toes if having them touching puts any pressure on your knees.
- Inhale and feel your spine grow longer.
- As you exhale, take your butt back to your heels and tuck your chin to your chest.
- Rest here, with your forehead on the ground and your arms outstretched. You can also put your arms next to your body, palms resting up if you prefer.
- Hold this for 5 deep, even breaths.
These two poses done together can increase the circulation of your spinal fluid. This will help lubricate the spine, stretch your back and torso, and gently massage the organs in the abdominal area. All of these are good to help you wake up and go into the rest of your day.
Muscles worked: Arm, abdominal, and back muscles.
- Push up from Child's Pose onto all fours, the top of your feet flat, shoulders directly over your wrists, and hips directly over your knees.
- As you inhale, drop your belly, letting your back arch but keeping your shoulders rolled back and down (this is Cow). Look slightly upward toward the ceiling.
- As you exhale, press into your hands into the ground and round your upper back (this is Cat).
- Continue moving, arching on your inhales and rounding on your exhales, repeating this for 5 breaths.
This pose is great for the morning because it's a mild inversion. It resets your nervous system, calms the brain, and energizes the body.
It can also be therapeutic for sciatica and relieve fatigue. If you have back problems that impact your sleep and leave you achy and tired, this pose is especially for you. Consider doing it for twice as long as suggested below or returning to it between other poses in this sequence for three breaths each time.
Muscles worked: This pose actively works your arms, shoulders, wrists, and core, while it stretches your hamstrings, spine, and calves. A lot of your body is either working or stretching here.
- From all fours, push into your hands, straightening your arms as you raise your hips and straighten your legs. Note: You may want to inch your feet and hands a little farther apart, as a longer stance is normally more comfortable and beneficial. Your heels don't have to be touching the ground here and won't be for most people. "Working toward the ground" (not being on your tiptoes) is fine.
- As you exhale, press into your hands and roll your shoulders down and back, moving your shoulder blades down your back and your shoulders away from your ears.
- Your spine should be neutral here. You don't want your upper spine working too hard, your shoulders hunched, or your belly dropping too far toward the floor in a swayback.
- Take at least 5 deep breaths here, bending one knee and then the other as you do, to gently open the back of each leg. Settle into the pose by not moving your legs for at least 2 deep breaths.
Down Dog Split
This pose opens your side body and your hips and quiets the mind while developing confidence. It's a great addition to a morning practice.
Muscles worked: This pose stretches the side body, hamstrings, and hip flexors while strengthening your arms.
- In Downward Dog, be sure you are grounding fully and evenly pressing into both hands, and take a deep inhale, lifting your right leg as you do.
- When your leg is as high as you can comfortably get it while keeping your hips level with the ground, exhale and let your right leg bend, with your heel moving toward your butt, and then turn so that you can open the right side of your body.
- Take two deep breaths here, taking the time to let your hip and side open up and lengthen.
- Straighten the right leg as you square your hips back toward the mat, and gently return it to the ground as you exhale. Switch sides.
Everyone has their own morning routine: meditation, coffee, hot water with lemon, breakfast and a workout, etc.
By incorporating a quick yoga routine into yours, you can turn inward before you start your day. You'll give yourself a little "me time" before putting it all out there. Plus, you'll stimulate your organs, your brain, your muscles, and your focus.
You can also wait on your coffee until a more appropriate time. Studies say it's more effective between 10 a.m. and noon, anyway!
Disclaimer: The content of this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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