It isn’t uncommon to wake up stiff and with lingering tension still in the body from a night of sleep. If this tension isn’t addressed though, it can carry us into our day, creating emotional tension as well and even pain in the body. It’s important that upon awakening we stretch our body, creating space and ease in the muscles to carry us through our day. Space in the body creates space in the mind, and morning stretches do more than just alleviate stiffness, they help us move about our day with a clear mind and greater sense of peace. Start your day with intention and treat your body with love before you begin the rest of your morning. Here are eight stretches that will wake you up and carry you through the rest of your day.
Extend your knees mat width apart and reach your hands forward, palms face down and plant your forehead on the mat. Relax your chest forward, melting it into the mat with each exhale. Allow your body to fully relax, and breathe space into the hips. Hold for up to a minute.
Come into table top position by stacking your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Maintain a long neutral spine and in an inhale, drop your belly and gaze toward the ceiling. On an exhale, press the mat away and create a c curve with your spine, gazing at your navel. Continue this pattern at your own pace, linking breath to movement. Continue for up to 20 rounds.
Come to lie down on your back. Bring both knees into the chest and allow your spine to heavy on the ground beneath you. Take a deep breath in and drop both knees to your right. Extend your arms out at shoulder height and bring your gaze over to the left. Take long, deep, and continuous breaths into the mid section as you relax deeper into the twist. Hold the posture for 10-15 breaths. When finished, engage your core as you bring the knees through the center to switch sides, repeating the same thing on the left.
Happy Baby Pose
Once you have finished the supine twist on both sides, bring your legs in toward the chest and reach for the outer edges of your feet, directing your knees toward your armpits. Keep your spine firmly planted on the mat as you open up through the hips. You can invite gentle movement into the posture by rocking back and forth on the spine or straightening out one leg and then the other. Hold and explore the posture for 10 breaths.
From a standing position, take a deep breath in and on an exhale, fold your upper body forward. Allow a gentle bend in the knees and let the head and neck be heavy. You can allow your arms to hang heavy, or grab opposite elbows to add some additional weight to the stretch. Let your upper body relax and hang heavy over the thighs. Hold for 10-20 breaths, sinking deeper into the fold with each exhale.
Come to stand with your feet hips width apart. On an inhale, reach your arms up toward the sky, stretching the side body and abdomen. Keep your core engaged and lift your hip points slightly toward your ribs, keeping the integrity of the spine. You can grab opposite wrists and reach to one side and then the other for a side stretch. You can also gently reach back, inviting a slight backbend into the posture. Hold here for a few breaths, exploring the variations of this posture in a way that feels good to your body.
From a standing position, cross your right arm across your body at shoulder height. Grab your right arm at the bicep with your left, encouraging the stretch deeper. Hold on the right for 20 seconds before switching sides.
Full body shake
Come to stand at the top of your mat, feet hips width apart and begin to gently shake out the body, starting with the legs. Move your way up into the arms, shaking and moving in an organic way that feels good to you. Continue until you are shaking out the entirety of the body, and do so 30 seconds to one minute. When you are finished, slowly come to a static standing position, placing one hand over your heart and the other over your belly and taking a few deep breaths before you begin your day.