They say our day is pretty much formed by how we spend our first hour. Not many of us have the perfect routine nailed, especially if you’re not much of a morning person, it’s easy to pick up bad habits. Do you reach for the phone? Hit snooze 10 times? Grab a quick bite to eat then run out the door? When we wake up, we can feel stiff and tight and often like we need a good stretch. All of our muscles, tendons and joints are connected by Fascia in the body. After a long (or short) night of sleeping, the fascia can become dehydrated and therefore movement is sometimes limited, which is why it’s important to start with some gentle stretches and a big glass of water to lubricate the joints and loosen up a little.
The following stretches can be done in your pyjamas, your tracksuit, whatever you feel most comfortable in. You can literally roll straight out of bed and get stretching or even in the kitchen whilst the kettles on.
First things first, check in with your body, how do you feel? Notice whether the tightness you’re feeling is muscle related or if it is in fact the joints. It’s important to know the difference so we’re not causing any damage to the joints by pushing ourselves too far and ignoring the signals our bodies are sending us.
Now, whilst standing, take a deep breath in through the nose, hold it for a moment, then let go and let all of the tension in your body melt away.
Take another deep breath in and this time feel the breath begin at the belly, then move the breath into your heart space, hold it for a moment… Anndd let go. Deep sigh.
Now bring some movement into the shoulders, roll them forwards and backwards, head side to side.
Ready to go?
Breath in and reach the arms up stretching all the way up to the sky, up on to your tippy toes and on your exhale come down into your forward fold.
Don’t worry about your legs being completely straight, it’s not important and you don’t want to over stretch those hammy’s. Let gravity help you down. Shake your head out no, nod your head yes, arms dangling. If it feels ok, add a little sway here side to side. Repeat 2 more times, inhale to lift up on to your toes and exhale to fold.
On the third fold, circle the arms up behind the back and interlace the fingers. Take the feet a little wider than hip width and bring the right shoulder to the right knee, then the left shoulder to the left knee. Repeat a couple of times before bringing the hands down.
Step the feet back into a ‘Table Top’ pose (all fours) with your wrists either under the shoulders or just in front, spreading through the fingers and pressing down through the knuckles. Knees hip width apart. Rock your upper body around, big circles around the hips and wrists.
Keeping your hips over the knees, walk your hands forward and drop the chest towards the mat placing your forehead down into your puppy pose. Hold for 5-8 breaths feeling that stretch across the chest and shoulders before coming back into your table top.
Lift your right leg up, knee bent, heel reaching up to the sky. Circle the leg all the way around keeping your upper body as still as you can. Let’s get the fascia moving. Repeat with the left leg.
Now shuffle the knees back and lift the hips up as back into Downward Dog. The best way to get into this pose, is to start with the knees bent and imagine someone is behind you trying to pull you all the way back from the hips stretching all along from the wrists up to the tailbone. Once you can’t stretch anymore, then start to peddle the legs bending one then the other and moving the hips from side to side. Movement is key here, let your body go where it feels good.
Lift your Right leg up as high as you can, bend the knee and try to bring the heel of the foot over to the left side. Circle the ankle a couple of times and really enjoy the stretch in the psoas muscle (hip flexor).
Step this foot forward and place to the inside of your right foot. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make it on its own, give it a little lift and shuffle it forwards until it’s in place for your first low lunge. Have your knee over the ankle tracking in line with your second and third toe. Right thumb into the right hip and pull it back slightly so that your hips are in line. Rock it forwards and backwards stretching out the legs and hips and even the feet lifting the toes and placing them back down again as you rock.
Bring it to stillness and keep your left hand rooted on to the mat as you circle your right arm into the sky for a twisting lunge. Circle the wrist and open and close the hand a couple times.
Left foot forward now back into that fold.
Stretch up to standing (with the knees bent to protect the SI joint) and grab the left wrist with the right hand and lean over to the right. Deep breaths here into the ribs and sideline of the body. Back into your fold and into Downward dog.
Time to repeat these little movements on the left side.
Stretch up to standing (with the knees bent to protect the SI joint) and grab the left wrist with the right hand and lean over to the right. Deep breaths here into the ribs and sideline of the body. Back into your fold and into Downward dog. Time to repeat these little movements on the left side.
Now add a twist in your downward dog. Right hand presses down as your left hand reaches across to grab your right calf or ankle, and pull the chest through. Our spines love to move in all different ways, especially twists. Repeat on the other side.
Come all the way forward into plank, Press down through the tops of your feet, drop the hips and hover the thighs off of the ground as you stretch across the belly with the arms straight. Keep your glutes engaged so we’re keeping that lower back safe and turn your gaze over your left shoulder then your right. Breath in here.
All the way on to your belly now. Slide your right knee in towards your waist and start by pressing on to the hands as you lift the chest.
Come back down and bring your left arm under the right as you roll all the way over on to your back leading with your right shoulder. Keep both shoulders down, it doesn’t matter if your knee lifts slightly and enjoy this yummy twist. Back on to the belly repeat the top two stretches on the other side.
Stay on to your back and bring the knees in towards the chest giving yourself a hug rocking side to side giving that lower back a little massage.
Bringing the hands around the thighs, open the legs wide bringing the knees towards the armpits reaching the heels up to the sky and rock side to side in your happy baby.
Rock all the way up to seated, crossing the legs, placing the palms down onto the thighs. Close the eyes and breath. A few moments of stillness. Stay here for as long as you need and open the eyes when you’re ready feeling refreshed for your day.