Starting off the morning with a 10 minute stretch sequence (such as the one below) has so many health benefits!
Some benefits of following a morning stretch sequence include:
*Helps the body slowly wake up – a process which reduces the stress of an abrupt awakening.
*Encourages a gentle increase in the circulation of the body’s fluids, aiding the body’s natural detox process that it goes through while sleeping.
*Encourages faster recovery if sore from previous workouts.
*Brings fresh fluid and nutrients to the tissues which may have become stiff and ‘dry’ overnight which then allows you to move smoother and easier from the get go, making the rest of your day easier and safer to move through.
*Improves mood, calms the mind, gives you some ‘me time’ and sets you up to be able to deal with any stresses in a calmer, easier manner during the day.
*Increases flexibility if done regularly.
This routine is easy. There are no long held strength poses here, or any moves that will work up too much of a sweat; just a gentle flow of dynamic moments which work to invigorate the entire body while stretching and lengthening the muscles.
Follow the routine below in order, going for about 1 minute each posture (this will take 10-15 minutes) or up to 2 minutes if you would like to make this a deeper stretch and more of a workout (20-30 minutes).
Listen to your body – if a move doesn’t feel right for you or causes any sharp pain, you may be doing it wrong. Skip that move or modify it so that it feels safe. Seek medical advice before doing any of these moves that are new to you if you have any spinal injuries or abnormalities such as slipped disk, scoliosis, etc.
Knee Hug + Knee Circles
Begin on your back, gently hugging your knees in towards your chest. Then slowly begin to loosely circle the knees in one direction for 15-30 seconds and then slowly in the other direction.
*This stretch will release the lower back and massage the hips.
Open and Close Twist
Let both knees fall to the right, stacked on top of each other. Stretch your arms out shoulder width, and then bring the left arm over to rest on top of the right arm turning to look to the right. Keeping the legs where they are, inhale and stretch the left arm back over to its starting position, turning to look to the left. Exhale, twist back over to the right (keping hips in place). Continue at a steady pace for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then repeat on the other side.
*This stretch gently wakes up the core muscles and stretches all the muscles along the spine as well as opening the chest and shoulders.
Rolling Like A Ball To Butterfly
Hug both knees back in towards the chest again. Begin to slowly rock up and down the spine to the top of the back (no pressure onto the neck and make sure you have good padded surface, if it is painful for the spine, leave this one out or add more padding to the surface you are on). Begin to rock a little more until you come up to a balance on your tail bone. As you come up to seated, keep the feet together, and let the knees come out to the side like a butterfly. If you are flexible you can curl forward for a deeper stretch. Then bring the knees back in and roll back down and repeat.
*This stretch increases mobility of the spine and stretches the hips.
Come onto hands and knees, hands directly below the shoulders, knees under the hips. Inhale, look up, lift the tailbone and chest. Exhale, slowly round through the spine tucking the chin and tailbone. Repeat.
*This is great for increasing/maintaining mobility in the spine and gently massaging the internal organs.
Child’s Pose to Cobra Flow
Press back into child’s pose – hips towards the heels, stretching the arms out front. Pause for a breath. Lift up, drop the hips forward, and lift the chest and head for a cobra stretch. Then press back into child’s pose again. Keep this flowing leading with the hips from child’s pose to cobra for about 1 min.
*These stretches continue to invigorate the spine, while stretching the lower back, hips, and abdominals.
Downward Dog – Walk The Dog
Come back into tabletop – hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Tuck the toes under, keep the knees bent, and lift the hips, straightening out the torso. Keep one leg bent while you straighten the other. Slowly, bend the straight leg and straighten the other leg. Keep alternating.
*This is a fantastic stretch which will stretch the torso, while also stretching the hamstrings through to the calf and Achilles tendon.
Downward Dog to Updog Flow
Press both legs straight into downward dog and take a few breaths. Then lower your hips, lift the chest and come into updog (thighs can float off the ground or rest on the ground in Cobra Pose modification). Inhale, then as you exhale, lead with the hips, pressing back up into downward dog. Continue in a smooth flow for about 1 minute.
*A more intense version of child’s pose to cobra flow which includes stretches into the hamstrings and calves.
Step the right foot forward between the hands, resting the left knee to the ground. Sink the hips low, lift and the chest and feel a stretch through the hip flexor of the left leg. Press slowly back into downward dog before swapping sides.
*Excellent stretch for the hips and will also stretch the quad muscles of the back leg.
From Downward Dog, walk the feet to the hands. Bend the knees, grab opposite elbows and leg the upperbody hang loosely. To finish, roll slowly up the spine to standing.
*A great release for the lower back and good stretch for the hamstrings.
While many yoga sequences end lying down in ‘Corpse Pose’, this is only a quick morning sequence so it can be nice to finish with a standing pose. Tree Pose is great for balance which requires focus and concentration. Ending with this pose helps us head into the day with a peaceful and clear mind.
Bring one leg up and using your hand to help, place to sole of the foot on the inside of your standing leg. If you cannot get it up that high, place it below the knee (never on the knee) resting on the calf or ankle. Hold for 30-60 seconds taking deep slow breaths then lower the leg and switch sides.
Have a beautiful day and don’t forget to LIKE this post if you found it helpful 🙂