You might think stretching is a waste of time (and when I was an avid gym goer at the start) I probably agreed with you!). For me personally, having more flexibility makes me feel a little more like superwoman. Having a greater range of motion to move through can make you less likely to get injured, plus I find this morning routine gives me other benefits too.
I can start the day with feeling, and being in my body.
Connecting with how I feel, how I am breathing, this moment.
Because let’s face it, things are going to be busy enough in a moment.
And even those few minutes, not on screens, creates a more nourishing transition into the day with a little more headspace and connection to yourself. We follow something similar at the end of every morning FIT class too:I think people think I have always been flexible because I practice yoga, but not the case!! I used to not stretch and be nowhere near touching my toes when I bent down.
1. A glass of water and 5-10 deep breaths
Ok, not technically stretch but a brilliant way to begin your morning and before your stretches nonetheless! Being a coffee fiend, the glass of water is a must for me (and even if you’re not, you’re likely dehydrated from sleep somewhat, so I still recommend it). The breathing centres, grounds and relaxes you. As you breathe in, let the belly gentle swell out and then sink as you exhale (a hand on heart and a hand on belly can help increase your connection with your breath)
2. Neck + side stretch
These can be done seated in a chair, standing, or one side of your bed!
Extend the fingertips away from you reaching to the ground and let your ear gently move towards your opposite shoulder to feel the stretch into the neck. The place the hand onto the floor and lean over to that side, drawing the other arm over the head and breathing in pace into the side of your body.
3. Cat cows
These are amazing for warming up the spine, moving through extension and flexion. How to do them:
Come to an all fours position with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees centered under the hips.
As you breathe in, flair out the tailbone, let the belly dip, draw the heart forwards and if it’s comfortable on your neck, tilt the chin up. Find a little activation with your hands as though drawing the heels of your hands back on the mat onwards your knees.
As you breathe out, tuck in your chin, press the ground away to create space between shoulder blades, draw in your front body to your back body and tuck in the tailbone
Repeat 5-10 reps with your breath.
4. Child’s pose
With knees together or apart, let the hips sink towards the heels and sink the chest down towards the earth. Extend your arms out long in front of you (an alternative is to draw them by your side, with fingertips pointing to the back of the mat if this more suits your shoulders). This is a gentle stretch for the hips. Breathe long and slow into the belly.
5. Low lunge
This pose stretches into the hip flexors and thighs. From kneeling, step one leg forwards to the top of the mat (you might want to cushion the back knee if you have sensitive knees), into a lunge. You can rest your arms on the front thigh or wherever is comfortable. Find some activation of the leg muscles by drawing the front hip back and the back hip forwards, squaring the hips to the top of the mat. To add on, draw the opposite arm to the front leg over into a side stretch to target the deeper hip flexor muscles.
Repeat on the other side.
6. Chest stretch
Either kneeling, seated, standing or sitting, take both hands behind you and interlace the fingers. Bend the elbows and squeeze the heels of the hands together. As you breathe in, extend your arms down your back and away from your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades onto your back body as you project the heart forwards.
Repeat with the hands interlaced the other way (the weird way, with the other thumb on top!)
7. Seated glute stretch
From seated, extend your legs out in front of you with the knees slightly bent, and resting your hands behind your hips. Lift a leg and roll the toes outwards to achieve external rotation, and then flexing the foot, place the ankle over the opposite thigh. Send the bent knee away from you. To move deeper into the stretch (listen to your body!), walk the hands in towards your body.
Repeat on the other side.
You can also take this stretch lying down on your back if it is more accessible for you (same set up with the legs!)
8. Seated hamstring stretch + twist
From seated and legs extended out in front of you, fold one leg in so the sole of the foot tucks into the inner thigh of the opposite leg. If you have very tight hamstrings, you might sit on a folded blanket or block to raise the hips up slightly. Fold forwards, bringing hands onto thigh, shin or catching fold of the foot. Breathe into the back of the leg (if there is any discomfort or pain around the back of the knee of the outstretched leg, then bend the knee!). Returning to upright, twist, finding length in the spine, right and then left.
Repeat on the other side.
Who tried one of all of these in their morning routine? Which is your favourite stretch from those above?