Many of us spend much of our days in a fairly sedentary position, which has negative impacts on our energy levels, circulation and range of motion. One of the simplest ways to improve all of these factors and to ensure a calm start to the day is to introduce some easy stretches to your morning routine. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time and can reap many health benefits, not least of which is relaxed muscles and mind.
We are taking our stretching inspiration from yoga. If you’ve never done yoga, you should definitely check it out. There are all different types of yoga from relaxing stretches to fast movement, from cool rooms to hot, from easy to challenging. The beauty of yoga is that you are encouraged (in fact, expected) to listen to your body and only push it as far as it feels comfortable to do so. So, if you can’t reach your leg up behind your head, don’t worry! You don’t have to! One of the biggest advantages of yoga is that you don’t need any special training to start nor do you have to bend like a gymnast to benefit.
*Even though these are beginner poses, those with any existing injuries or those prone to injury should proceed with caution. You should always talk to you healthcare provider before engaging in exercise of any kind.*
Mountain Pose – In mountain pose, you are literally standing in one place. You root your feet into the floor and consciously work on relaxing your entire body, from your toes all the way up to the top of your head. Your shoulders push back, your arms hang to the side, and you stand up as straight as possible. Breathe in and out slowly and consciously for 30 seconds to one minute. This pose - as easy as it looks/seems - will help to improve your posture, strengthen your legs, and relax you.
Child’s Pose – One of the things about yoga is that the poses have very logical names. If you've ever seen a baby in a crib, facing down, knees pulled up under him/herself and hands down by his/her side, you will know that child’s pose is called child’s pose because children actually do it in real life. It’s a great position for relieving back pain, stretching, and getting some relaxation. Your hands can be down by your sides, under your forehead, or reaching out over your head. Do this for 30 seconds to a few minutes.
Seated Twist - This pose improves your spinal flexibility and also range of motion. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or doing repetitive motion work for most of your week, this seated spinal twist stretch will be incredibly nourishing for your body. You will feel a lot of that lower back soreness and tension release. This is an easy, but very therapeutic pose. Twist and hold for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute, or longer if it feels good, and then twist around to the other side.
Downward-Facing Dog – This pose stretches muscles, boosts energy, and calms the brain. Push yourself up on your hands and feet, hips in the air. Your heels can be on the ground if your muscles stretch that far, or you can be on your toes. Knees should have a slight bend. Hold this pose for 1 – 3 minutes (for more advanced yogis, this is a ‘rest’ pose).
These poses only take a few minutes and they are guaranteed to give you a little pep to your step, especially on Monday mornings!
We'd love to hear about your ideas for kickstarting your day. How do you do it?