Morning Stretches To Try Today
When it comes to establishing a morning routine, stretching is an ideal way to start the day. It allows you to focus on yourself before you turn your attention to all of the expectations, deadlines, and responsibilities that will take up the majority of your day.
Stretching in the morning can also bring about a wide range of health benefits and prepare you for the day ahead. Taking the time to practice some morning stretches can give your brain, your muscles, and your organs an all-important boost that will be far more effective than a cup of coffee.
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How Morning Stretches Can Benefit You
A good night's sleep is all about getting rest. But what happens to the body during that time? Your muscles unwind and the flow of blood decreases due to a slowed heartbeat. You're lying dormant for a significant number of hours. So when you wake up, you need to get everything moving again.
That's where stretching comes in. Stretching first thing in the morning wakes up your muscles, improves your blow flow, and gets your brain refocused. But there are many other reasons why morning stretches should precede everything else on your day's agenda.
Say it like a mantra - stretching eases stress. The morning can be one of the most stressful portions of the day because you know what lies ahead on your agenda. Many of us wake up to worry because we are facing a difficult or stressful event that day. Maybe you're under a lot of pressure to deliver on a work-related project or you have an emotionally challenging circumstance to deal with. Whatever the case may be, stress can be a crippling way to start the morning.
Stress also causes your muscles to tighten up, and you can start to feel the pain and discomfort that occurs both immediately and over an extended period of time. But when you stretch, you release the tension that naturally builds up from stress. Lowering your stress levels will be very helpful in preparing to take on those complicated challenges on your calendar.
Improved Mobility and Flexibility
Combating stiffness is another reason to stretch in the morning. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible and promotes better mobility and a wider range of movement for all of your joints. Stretching also helps to prevent your muscles from staying tight and compressed, which can lead to muscle strain or other injuries that greatly reduce your ability to move without discomfort.
Better Posture And Less Pain
Joints and muscles that don't get used often can start to ache and tighten up, which can lead to bad posture. Stretching loosens these muscles and opens them up, keeping your lower back from feeling discomfort and improving your posture when seated. This is particularly helpful for anyone seated at a desk for eight or more hours a day for work. Stretches that focus on opening up the chest and shoulders help to mitigate the effects of lower back muscles that become over-extended from spending too much time in a seated position.
It's not just your back either. Muscles and joints throughout the whole body can start to ache and creak over time, and starting your day with some stretches can get the fluid moving in your joints and your spinal area so you don't feel discomfort when you move.
Morning Stretches To Try First
Restorative yoga postures can go a long way towards getting your body and mind ready for your busy day. The following poses are a good start for easing stress and tension, waking up the brain, and stretching out all of the important areas of the body, from the shoulders and back all the way down to the legs and ankles.
This is one of the best all-around stretching postures to start the day because it works out the hips and pelvis, spine, hamstrings, and thighs. All of these regions can be tight and tense when you wake up and spending just a few minutes in child's pose can get your day started right.
How To Do Child's Pose
Start on all fours with the knees aligned beneath the hips and the big toes in contact with one another. On an inhale, lengthen the spine. Exhale and bring your butt to the back of the heels while lowering your chin to the chest. Placing the forehead to the floor, stretch your arms out or rest them on the floor at your sides, with the palms of the hand facing up. Hold for a count of five breaths.
Cat-cow is another great pose that focuses on the spine. Practicing this pose can help to improve the circulation of spinal fluid and stretch the muscles of the back and torso while stimulating the organs in your abdominal region. Cat-Cow is a great way to ease the tension in your back first thing in the morning.
How To Do Cat-Cow Pose
Start on all fours with the top of your feet placed flat to the floor, the shoulders aligned above the wrists, and hips placed above your knees. On an inhale bring the belly down while arching your back and rolling the shoulders back and down. Turn your gaze up just a bit. Exhale and push your hands to the floor while rounding the top of the back. Repeat the motions of arching then rounding the back, inhaling on the first move and exhaling on the latter, for five to ten breaths.
Downward dog is such a great morning stretch posture because it works the entire body at once. The wrists, arms, and shoulders are stretched along with the hamstrings, calves, and of course the spine. Downward Dog is also a popular treatment for relieving the pain of sciatica. If you slept a little funny the night before, any lingering discomfort in the back or buttocks can be alleviated by practicing this pose, and just a few breaths in the pose can wake your brain right up.
How To Do Downward Dog Pose
Starting on all fours, press your hands down and straighten the arms while lifting the hips and straightening the legs. On an exhale, push the hands to the floor and bring the shoulders down and then back. Be careful to hold your back in place without hunching over or allowing your core to sink to the floor. Hold the pose for five breaths. From here, gently bend one leg followed by the other and hold for 2-3 breaths.
One of the best stretches for improving flexibility, Warrior I works on the hips and strengthens the back, arms, shoulders, and legs. Performing this posture is intended to open the hips and chest.
How To Do Warrior I Pose
Start in Mountain Pose, then step your feet apart so there is about 4 feet between them. Next, turn your right foot 90 degrees outward. Once you feel secure in that position, turn your left foot 45 degrees in the same direction. Keeping your feet aligned, bend your right knee until it is stacked above your right ankle. Bring your hips down and as you feel the stretch, inhale and bring your arms straight up above your head with the palms of the hands facing one another in a parallel position. Maintain a distance between them, don't let the hands come together. Hold for 3 breaths before returning back to Mountain Pose and repeating with your left leg in front.
See a full list of Yoga Poses to try on the Yoga Society Poses Blog.
A good long stretch in the morning can do wonders for your mind and body alike, helping you re-awaken as you get out of the bed. Just be careful not to overdo it as you could strain a muscle or injure yourself. You want to get the blood circulating after a long night's rest but you don't want to overexert yourself as a result. Stretching in the morning is about stress relief and rejuvenation, and you should only perform the poses that you feel comfortable doing.