Have you ever noticed how our dear pets move when they wake from their slumbers? They instinctively stretch before they get going, exploring the reach of their limbs and the bend of their spines. It’s a downward dog, an upward dog, and off they go. When we take the time to similarly stretch out our bodies after a long period of rest, we clear out any lingering stiffness or buildup of “fuzz” that can limit movement and prevent muscles from sliding easily in the body. Plus, it feels so good!
Yoga Stretches To Start the Day
Taking the time to be with your body and breath in the morning can also be a great way to tune into the subtleties of how you’re feeling and what you may need that day. Here are some effective bedroom-based moves to get your body ready for a day of action.
Enjoy these first stretches while you’re still in bed:
1. Torpedo stretch
This one isn’t ground-breaking, but so many of us don’t take the time to just lengthen and breathe as soon as we wake up. Reach your arms overhead and point your toes and get the body as long as you can. Take an inhale as you stretch out, and exhale in a sigh as you release. Reach to the right and take a breath, then stretch out to the left and do the same.
2. Neck rolls
Sit up in bed and take a moment to clear out any tension that may have collected in the neck overnight. Lower your chin to your chest; on your inhale, roll your head to the side and then back, and on your exhale, roll back down the other side, passing the ear over the shoulder. Take a few rounds in one direction, and pause if you have a knot that needs some time and a few breaths. Then move around in circles in the other direction.
3. Side stretches
While sitting in bed (cross legged is best), place your right hand on the bed by your right hip. On your inhale, reach your left arm up, and on your exhale, reach it overhead and over to the right, rooting through the left hip as you stretch through the side ribs. Keep fingers active, and draw your left shoulder blade towards the spine, broadening your collarbones. Take a breath here, and then release, repeating on the other side.
4. Barrel rolls
Move onto your hands and knees, shoulders over wrists and knees beneath the hips. Begin to churn the spine as you might imagine a skipping rope swinging: up, to the side, down, up the other side. Then let go of prescribed/defined movement and see what your body needs. Go searching for those sticky spots that linger, sweeping out tension as you breathe. Don’t be afraid to bend elbows and move hips as you churn around. After you’ve taken a few breaths of exploration in one direction, move the other way and be curious about what you might find on this side!
Now it’s time to rise from the bed and find a spot at the wall:
5. Wall hang
Move your arms a bit wider than shoulder distance apart and rest your hands at about shoulder height at the wall. Step back until your feet are standing behind your hips, and the arms are reaching. Begin to lower the chest downward as you press hands into the wall (allow hands to walk down the wall as needed), and step back until you feel a deep stretch moving through the shoulders and across the chest. This is similar to downward dog, but practiced at the wall so there is minimal pressure on the wrists, and gravity really helps to lengthen the front body.
6. Calf stretch
Wake up the backs of the legs as you take your hands to the wall and step one foot back creating a lunge shape. Draw the heel of the back foot downward towards the floor as you lengthen the back of the knee. Take a breath here, and then “unlock” the straightened knee and feel how the subtle bend can shift the stretch to a different part of the calf. Shift between a straightened and bent knee for a few breaths, and then switch legs.
Start your day off right— stretch out and breathe conscious breaths, wake the body up, boost your circulation and get the muscles moving. Feel the body and mind come together as you step into your day with reduced tension and greater ease.5