Waking up in the morning can often involve the cricks and cracks of the neck, back and other extremities that feel tight or even painful. Rather than going straight from the bed to the office desk, carve out 10 minutes in the morning to add these stretches to your routine in order to kick start your morning and keep your body and brain happy.
Downward Dog. You probably know this one, and the name speaks for itself. Take a page from a pup’s book and lengthen your limbs by placing your hands and feet on the floor and pressing your hips up and back toward your legs. Imagine that your chest is pushing toward your knees. Hold for about 30 seconds while pressing your heels down, and then alternate pressing one heel down at a time while bending the other knee in order to intensify the stretch.
Cobra. This is a great stretch to go into following downward dog. Keeping your hands on the floor, slowly drop your hips all the way down to the ground while pressing your toes forward. Lift your chest up and hold for about 30 seconds. To increase the stretch, let your legs hover over the ground rather than rest on it.
Cat Tilt. Bring your knees onto the floor with your back flat (tabletop position). Keep your wrists under your shoulders and round your spine upward while drawing your chin toward your chest. Hold for about 10 seconds before bringing your spine back down flat. Repeat 3-5 times.
Triangle Pose. This is a great way to ensure your sides get length in the morning too - especially for those of us who sleep in a ball. Bring yourself to a standing position and place your left toes facing outward and your right toes facing forward. Gently lean so your left hand reaches toward your shin or ankle, and bring your right hand straight up in the air so it aligns with the left shoulder. Gaze toward the right palm and hold for about 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Forward Fold. While you’re standing, bring your stance back to a shoulder’s width apart. Take a deep breath in with your hands over head, and gently fold your spine over as you exhale, reaching your hands toward the floor. Allow your head and neck to drop and completely relax, letting your hands reach further toward the floor. Hold for about 30 seconds. Let your head shake side to side for the last 5 seconds before slowly rolling your spine back up to standing.
Tree Pose. This is a perfect stretch to end your sequence with. Invite the day in by standing up nice and tall and placing the palm of your foot on the inside of either your calf or thigh - do not place it against the knee. Once you feel balanced, reach both hands, palms touching, high toward the sky, lengthening the spine. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch. (If you’re having trouble balancing, simply keep both feet on the ground and stand on your tiptoes).