If you’ve always wanted to add some self-care and wellness to your morning, but can’t bear the thought of waking up early to fit another activity into your schedule, you’re in luck.
Meet your new friend: morning stretches.
We all know that stretching is good for our bodies and our wellbeing. But did you know that morning stretches, in particular, carry their own benefits?
Whether we realize it or not, our bodies are under constant physical strain. So many of us spend our days hunched over a computer, repetitively clicking on a mouse and scrolling through our devices. Or we’re working on our feet all day, which can lead to muscle soreness, swelling, and back pain. Not to mention, the physical effects of stress can manifest itself in clenched jaws, tight chests, and tense shoulders.
It’s no wonder that so many of us wake up in the morning like a tightly wound coil.
It’s important to prepare our bodies and our minds for the day ahead. Morning stretches can help our bodies make that transition.
Doing some light, easy stretches is a pleasant way to start your day. Instead of jumping out of bed, you’re allowing your body to wake up at a much gentler pace. And when our bodies are more relaxed, we start to feel the calming effects on our mind as well.
Ahead, we’ve outlined some stretches you can do to get your morning off to a calm and positive start.
Why morning stretches are important
Here are some of the benefits of doing light stretches in the morning.
Improves circulation. Stretches in the morning can increase blood flow to your muscles and your brain.
Reduces tension from the night before. Whether it’s contorting our body like a pretzel or straining our neck from sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow, morning stretches can help relieve the aches and pains that we endure at night.
Prevents injuries. Stretching can help warm up the body, preventing muscle strain and injuries.
Helps your body relax. Light stretches can ease the tension in our bodies, and as a result, can help bring us into a more relaxed state of mind.
Morning stretches you can try
Here are some tips to keep in mind before starting your morning stretch routine.
Make sure your body is warm. You don’t want to stretch when your body is cold because you can risk pulling a muscle. So instead of attempting to do a yoga pose right out of bed, make sure to generate some body heat first. In the winter, that can mean wearing some extra layers or drinking a cup of hot tea or just walking around your room before stretching.
Start slow. Try not to over-exert yourself. We’re not aiming for Olympic gymnast flexibility here! Just a light, easy stretch. The stretch itself should feel soothing and relieving, and should not cause discomfort or pain.
Use a yoga mat or sturdy rug. If you don’t have a yoga mat, a carpet or rug is fine, as long as it can stay in place and provide support for your knees and hips and other sensitive joints.
Below are gentle stretches to help loosen your body and prepare your muscles for the day ahead.
This is a light stretch that will gently wake up your body while you’re still in bed.
- Reach your arms overhead.
- Extend your legs and point your toes to deepen the stretch
- Inhale/exhale for 3-4 counts.
This is a very light stretch for your lower back that you can do while you’re still in bed.
- Lie flat on your back
- Bring one knee to your chest and hold for a few seconds. (The opposite leg should remain extended.)
- Bring the leg down. Then bring the other leg to your chest.
For further instructions on this stretch, you can check out this guide here.
Your neck can feel very stiff in the morning so you’ll want to do these stretches at a slow and gentle pace.
You can do the two stretches below standing or seated. Make sure to keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Gently bring your chin to your chest.
- Inhale/exhale for a few counts.
- Raise chin to regular position
- Repeat sequence 2-3 times.
Stretches for the left and ride sides of your neck.
Slowly tilt your head and bring your right ear to your right shoulder.
- Inhale/exhale for a few breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
This yoga pose is a gentle way to stretch out your hips, thighs, and back.
- Start by kneeling on a mat with your hands placed on your knees.
- Lean the body forward while lowering your butt to your heels, and forehead to the ground.
3.Arms can be placed by your thighs for a gentle, relaxing pose. Or, you can outstretch the arms with palms facing down.
For further instructions on this pose, check out this guide here.
Other practices you can combine with morning stretches
As you can see, morning stretches don’t require much in terms of effort or equipment, and can leave you feeling good for the rest of the day. If you’d like, you can even combine your stretches with a mindfulness or self-care component to make your morning routine feel that much more nurturing.
Affirmations. Recite your favorite inspirational quotes or mantras as you do your stretches. You can recite these words out loud or simply reflect on them in your mind. This is a calming but powerful exercise to get you feeling inspired and confident for the day ahead.
Meditation. You can do some light stretches to relax your body and mind which can then prepare you for a 5-10 minute meditation exercise.
Gratitude practice. While stretching, you can make a mental note of the things you are grateful for. Or after your stretching routine, take a moment to write in your gratitude journal.We hope these stretches get your day off to a gentle and relaxed start. If you’d like more ideas for a positive morning routine, check out our post here. Not a morning person? No problem. You can read about developing a leisurely evening routine here.