Health experts everywhere have been singing the praises of yoga for years now. It’s a great way to stretch out your muscles and relax your mind. But we all experience days where we simply don’t have the time to plop ourselves in a sweaty room for an hour. Get the health benefits of a good stretch every morning in minimal time with this five-minute, full-body wake-up stretch.
Getting your day started right is about commitment. If you can commit to giving yourself the five minutes you need to do this quick series of stretches, you will set yourself up for a successful day right from the get-go. Your body will feel looser, your mind more connected and your spirit alert and ready to tackle the day’s challenges.
Neck and shoulders
We all carry a huge amount of tension in our necks and shoulders. And that tension can actually become increased overnight if we are sleeping on a weak mattress, using a poor pillow or simply end up resting at an awkward angle. To get rid of the tightness, begin by hanging your head forward, feeling the stretch at the base of your neck and the the top of your spine. Slowly bring your head to the right side. Gently allow your ear to fall towards your right shoulder. Reach towards the floor with your left hand. This will increase the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.
Arms and back
To release the tension that may have built up in your back and arms the day before, begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and shoulders back and down. Stretch your hands towards the ceiling while keeping your back straight and your shoulders down. Clasp your hands together and bring arms parallel to the floor with palms facing your chest. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and center back. Release hands and clasp them behind you securely. Bend forward, allowing your clasped arms to fall overhead. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders, back and legs. If the pressure on your legs is too much, simply bend your knees slightly. Release your hands and let them dangle to the floor.
Begin by bending your right knee slightly. This will cause you to feel a stretch in your left leg. Hold for as long as is comfortable. Repeat on other side. Shift your weight to the right side with both knees straight. You should feel a stretch in your right hip, bum and leg. Repeat on the left side.
This final step is the most important as it helps to align your whole system. If you come across a morning where you cannot spare the full five minutes, doing this step for 30 seconds is the next best thing. Still with feet hip-width apart, bend at the hips and let your arms dangle to the floor. Release any tension in your neck and shoulders. You should feel completely loose. Slowly, beginning with your bum, begin rolling up to a standing position vertebra by vertebra, as though you are stacking one on top of another. Always remember that the upper vertebra cannot lock into place until the one below it has. The slower you do this, the better. Breathe deeply. Continue this slow climb with your neck. Your head should be the very last to come into alignment. Take three deep breaths as you check in with your body and how it feels. Gently shake out your body and go about the rest of your morning activities.
This is a great way to wake yourself up in the morning, but you also shouldn’t shy away from using it at work, on the go or any time you are feeling a little tired or tight. It is the perfect way to return your body to a calm and connected point, so the more you can incorporate it into your life, the better!