Stretching in the morning is a good way to help your body wake up. It increases blood flow to the brain and helps with concentration, but it also wakes up the body as it gets ready to start its daily routine as well. The feel-good hormones that are released with stretching help to start the day on a positive note, not only improving mood but sharpening the mind for the activities ahead.
An early morning stretching routine does not have to take long to do. 10 minutes’ worth of stretches is quick and effective. You can do them while you are still in your PJs if you like. Starting the day by focusing on yourself is important and centering, which is perfect to counteract any chaos that ends up on your plate later in the day.
When doing these best morning stretches, never push yourself to the point of discomfort or pain. They are meant to be a gentle, mindful way to begin the day. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds if you can. If not, then slowly work your way up to it doing it a little longer each morning. Do not rush through the sequence. Do each stretch with intention, while also focusing on breathing.
These stretches can be done on the bed or floor depending on where you feel most comfortable.
Half Wind Relieving Pose – Payanamuktasana (yoga)
If you do yoga, then this pose will be familiar to you. It is suitable for anyone, whether you are athletic or simply trying to improve your morning routine. It is one that is done while laying down. It can be done on the bed before you get up or on the floor for a more solid place to lay.
It is simple to do and massages the abdominal organs and releases the tension in the stomach area and lower back. It will not only stretch the body but help relieve any excess gas from the stomach. Do this pose slowly to soothe stiffness in the back and tone muscles of the abdomen.
Begin by lying on your back and put your arms out to the side and legs straight out. Inhale and then on the exhale, hug both knees to the chest. Hold them there with your hands around your knees. Next, hold your right knee and let the left leg extend along the floor.
Pull it back up and hold both knees again. Do the same with the right leg in the extension then bring both knees back up. Once both sides have been done, release the legs to the straight-out position and rest.
Supine Tree Pose – Vrksasana
This pose can be done on the bed or floor. Lay flat, and put your legs together. Make sure your heels and toes are touching. Hands should be placed at the side.
Bring the right foot up to your left leg by bending at the knee and sliding it up, with the knee continuing to touch the floor on the way up. Bring it up as far as possible.
The goal is to eventually be able to hold the right ankle with the right hand without bending to grasp it. The sole of the right foot should be on the inside of the left thigh as high as it can be. Do not force the right knee to the ground. Let it fall naturally. Hold this pose and then do the same for the other side.
This pose can be adjusted as you become more flexible. Raise your arms over your head and rest a foot on top of your thigh rather than beside. Each new stretch should be done carefully and adjusted as needed and when stretching is increased.
Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Matsyendrasana
This move is easy to get into from the Supine Tree Pose. It is going to stretch the glutes, chest, and obliques. It helps with spinal mobility and gets the digestive system ready for the day. This stretch is especially good if you are at a desk or in front of a computer for the next 8 hours.
This stretch continues from a laying position either on the bed or the floor. You want to have your feet flat and knees pointing up at the ceiling. Next, lift the hips up slightly by pressing your feet into the floor.
Hips should move about to the right by approximately an inch. Begin by bringing the right knee up towards your chest on an exhale and leave the left leg stretched forward. On the next exhale, put the right knee across your middle to the floor on the left of your core. Your right hip will be over your left one now.
Once your legs are in place, then the right arm should extend straight out to the right. The left hand can go onto the right knee or hold straight out to the left, so you look like a “T”. Palms should go up to the ceiling.
Turn your head to look at your right fingertips. Do not force this turn, just stretch to your comfort level. Hold for 30 seconds if you can, then release and go back to being on your back. Straighten your legs to help neutralize the spine. Relax and then repeat with the other side.
Be mindful of your breathing and do not force any of the positions. Only do what you are comfortable with.
Hamstring Stretch with Ankle Roll
This morning stretch can continue in a lie-down position. Both legs should be straight out in front. Pull the left knee to the chest and slowly extend the foot up towards the ceiling. Then put your hands on the hamstring or calf area. Inhale and then on the exhale, gently hug the leg that is extended up to your stomach.
Only do this as you are comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds if you can. Once you have held it, then point and flex the foot in the air four times. That should be followed by 4 ankle rolls to the right then 4 more to the left. Release the leg and relax. Repeat this sequence on the other side.
This stretch can be done on the bed but is easier on the floor as it has more support. Soft beds make it difficult to get the proper stretch as the shoulders and feet sink if the mattress is soft. Lay on the bed or floor face up and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Your feet should be right below your hips.
Once you are settled in this position, then pretend to pull your belly button down the floor and tilt the pelvis up to the shoulders. While doing these two things, lift your hips so they are off the floor. Hold for a bit and release. Repeat this stretch at least 4 times. It can be done more if you feel able.
Doing a bridge is similar to the pelvic tilts in that doing this stretch is easier on a hard surface. The softness of a bed can cause instability once in the stretch of the position. You can move from the pelvic tilt into the bridge easily. Continue to lie on your back with feet lined up just below your hips.
Push your hips up slowly until the majority of the spine is off the floor and most of your weight is being supported by the shoulders. Make sure the weight is not all centered on your neck. This stretch is not the full-bridge where your hands are planted and the whole body is arched.
Instead, the bridges stretch just focuses on the lower back and abs. Hold the pose for as long as possible and then roll the spine to the floor. Do this at least 4 times.
Full Wind Relieving Pose
Begin this stretch on your back bringing both knees up to your chest. Hold the back of your thighs or knees or hug your knees to your chest. You will then roll your shoulders up to come off the mattress and try and touch your forehead to the knees.
Hold for 5 seconds and then slowly release the shoulders and back to roll back on the mattress. Bring the chin down so you are able to lengthen your neck and the back of your skull is touching the mattress. Do this for 30 seconds and then release and relax. It can be repeated as comfortable.