Life is unpredictable when step out of our front door in the morning we never really know what bizarre curveballs the world may throw at us. You may win the lottery or you might stand in dog dirt, that my friends is just how the cookie crumbles.
One thing is under our control however and that is how we feel when we leave the house. If we step into the chaos already feeling under the weather or in a negative state of mind then every cup that is handed to us today will feel half empty.
So, friends, I am sure you will agree with me that we owe it to ourselves to get ourselves in the right frame of mind before we step through that door frame. How do we do this? We eat a healthy breakfast, we listen to Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 feel-good classic ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy”, and we get our stretch on of course!
Stretching off the aches and pains of the night will leave our mind clearer and our body more alive. Putting us in much better position to take on whatever twists and turns Madam Fate has in store for us.
Below are four of the best early morning stretches known to humankind…
Full Body Stretch
This one’s my favorite. Why? Well, because you can do it before you even get out of bed.
Once you’ve blinked your eyes awake, kick off the covers and take a deep inhale. Now reach your hands overhead and clasp your fingers together and spin your palms away from you until they face the head of the bed. Simultaneously, stretch out your legs as straight as they will go and point your beautiful toes. Hold the stretch for five deep breaths, exhale and release. Repeat the process two more times.
By stretching out all the accumulated tightness of the night before you have even left your bed, you will allow your very first step of the day to be a more alive one.
Standing Forward Bend
Known to yogis as uttanasana, and to others as the rag doll, the standing forward bend is a brilliantly simple stretch that allows you to slowly wake up your leg muscles and lower back.
All you have to do is stand with your feet hip distance apart, slowly bend from the waist taking extra special care about lower back, and allow your hands to hang above your head, either folded loosely or dangling on the ground like a orangutan’s might.
Then just let yourself hang and breath deeply. If you so wish you can allow your body to gently rock from side to side in a pleasing motion.
When doing rag doll make sure you rock your body weight forward into your toes. This takes the tension away from your lower back.
The benefits of a gentle inversion like this a multiple. Physically it helps to keep your spine flexible and it strengths your hips, knees, calves, thighs, and hamstrings. Hanging with your head below your heart also takes some pressure off the overworked little beater, lowering your blood pressure and with it your heart rate.
When you’ve had your fill of the pleasant feeling of hanging, slowly bring your body back to standing, one vertebra at a time.
This is also the perfect pre-bed stretch in the evening, doing in everynight we help you get better control over how easily you drop off.
The Standing Side Stretch
This is basically the standing version of the bed-based full body stretch, with a little added bend.
Plant your feet hip-width apart and reach for the sky. However high you think you can stretch, go on and stretch just a little bit further. You can do it!
Now once you’re at the max stretch, grasp one wrist with the opposite hand and gradually pull that arm over to the side until you have resembled a bit of a human banana. Try to keep your hips square and avoid twisting.
You should feel an amazing stretch all along your arm, down your flank and into your hip. Take three deep lung filling breaths and come back to center, now switch hands and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat the whole process as many times as you feel fit.
Ankle, Wrist and Hip Rotations
So often we neglect the parts of the body that do the most work for us during the day. Without a proper range of motion in our ankles, wrists, and hips where would we be? In a damn sight worse shape that’s where.
So say good morning to these guys by giving them a nice bit of attention. To rotate your ankles, simple stand on one foot and hold your other leg slightly in front of you, then rotate your ankle. Do so ten times clockwise and then ten times anti-clockwise. Remember to point your toes!
Then repeat the same process with your wrists. Finally, place your hands on your hips, and make ten nice large pelvic rotations in each direction. If it helps you can stick on ‘Let’s do the Timewarp’ for this one and channel your best Dr. Frank N. Furter impression.
I’ve found a good set of rotations takes about as long as a kettle takes to boil. So you’ve no excuse not to them while you wait for your morning brew.
That’s said the four sets of stretches above will likely give you so much extra energy that you’ll no longer need that cup of coffee before leaving the house!
Now go enjoy the day you beautiful butterfly!