We all know that coffee can give your brain an extra boost of energy. That’s why so many people have their morning habit of it. We roll out of bed and almost zombie our way to the kitchen or hit the drive-thru on the way to work to get out dose of magic energy in a cup. But did you know that simply stretching and deep breathing can really wake up your mind and body as well? These stretches can be done in the morning, at lunch break (when you are feeling that mid-day slump) or any time you feel the need for a simple boost in mood and energy. I have combined some yoga with general stretching and some of them could even be done sitting at a desk!
This very basic yoga pose sequence can really be great for stretching your spine and awakening your body. Start by getting on all fours and allowing your knees to be about hip’s width apart, or whatever is comfortable for you. For Cow, take a deep breath in and when you do, roll your back by bring your head down between your shoulders. Hold for 5 seconds and move into Cat. To do Cat, simply exhale and make your back concave and bring your head forward or up and hold for 5 seconds. Do as many of these as you want. I like to do at least 5. The movement should be fluid and slow.
Leaning Side Stretches
You can do this a couple of ways. I like both and do both, but in the image I am leaning over while sitting on my feet/calves. I move gently in a slow motion to take my arm above and over to the side while breathing in. You can also sit cross-legged to do this as well. Lean over as far as you can. Switch sides, breath out and do again. Do 5 on each side.
Position your feet about twice as far as hip width. Take a deep breath. Gently lean to one side and place your hand as far down you calf as you can, making sure to not bend over forward as much as possible. With the other arm, reach it above your head and try to make your body as straight up and down as you can. Hold this, while breathing in for 5 seconds. Slowly and smoothly, breath out and move into position on the other side. I like to do about 5 of these on each side.
I have still not mastered Tree pose as much as I want to, but it is an excellent pose for stretching and giving your body an energy boost in the morning or anytime. It requires some balance, too, so it is great for working on that as well. Stand on both feet and ground yourself, finding your balance space. Slowly bring your foot up, breathing in, and place it on your thigh as high as you can. It’s ok if you can only bring it up to your knee or even your calf! Bring your hands up into upward salute position (hands together and straight up). Hold this for 5 seconds, ideally, or as long as you can. Switch legs.
Warrior 1 Pose
Place your legs with one forward, toes pointing forward and on the ground. With your other leg, place your foot pointing forward but your leg back and on your toes. Take a deep breath and bring your arms up into upward salute position and hold for 5 seconds. Breath out and switch legs. Do 5 of each.
Up, Back and Forward Stretches
Open up your chest and stretch your shoulders with this set. Start seated on your legs. Place your hands behind your back, breath in and pull them back as far out as you can. As you can see, I lack some flexibility there, but this is a great way to gain some! Breathing out, come to a standing position. Breath in and bring your arms out in front of you, interlocking your fingers and push out. Hold for 5 seconds and breath out. Bring your hands above your head, while breathing in, with your fingers interlocked again. Push up for 5 seconds and then bring them down while breathing out.
I hope these stretches help you get through your morning or mid-afternoon slump! I can usually do these in about 5-10 minutes and it's a truly great way to wake up and greet the day.
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