March 9, 2020: Morning Stretching Exercises

Stretching in the morning is a great way to wake up your sleeping muscles and get them started for the day. Stretching loosens up the body while increasing blood flow. Incorporating morning stretches daily is a positive way to start the day!

Warrior I Pose

This standing pose is what is known as a “power pose.” It can increase confidence, flexibility in your hips, focus, and it energizes the whole body.

Muscles worked: Warrior I strengthen your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and ankles. It opens your hips, chests, and lungs, and increases circulation.

Click here to see demonstration

  1. Beginning in Downward Dog, lift your right foot and bend your knee in toward your nose.
  2. Plant your right foot between your hands or, if needed, behind your right hand. (If you can’t get your foot as close to your hand as you’d like, simply set it down, grab your ankle with one hand, and help move it forward. Or you can rise to standing and inch it forward.)
  3. Once your right foot is planted, rise to standing as you inhale deeply. Right now, both feet should still be toes pointing toward the top of your mat.
  4. If your foot didn’t go as far forward as you’d like for this pose, inch it forward now. When your stance feels stable, pivot your heel all the way to the ground, so your back foot is flat on the ground and at about a 45-degree angle. Your heels should align if you were to draw a line from one to the other.
  5. Your back leg is straight, and your front leg bent, knee over ankle. As you sink your hips a little bit more, deepen the stretch, inhale and lift your arms over your head, palms facing each other but still parallel, at shoulder width. Take 3 deep breaths.
  6. When you’re ready, you can go back into Downward-Facing Dog to switch legs. Or you can lift your left heel up, making your feet parallel again, then step forward with your left, take a deep breath and as you exhale, step your right foot back to be the back foot.

Mountain Pose

This pose always seems simple, but it can do a lot for your posture, your confidence, and the rest of your yoga practice if you do it right.

Muscles worked: Mountain pose works an assortment of muscles in your torso, legs, core, and arms. Even the arches of your feet should be engaged here.

Click here to see demonstration

  1. You can simply step your right foot forward from the previous pose or you can, from Downward-Facing Dog, look between your hands and step one foot, then the other up to meet at the top of your mat, and rise to standing.
  2. Your feet should either have your big toes just barely touching, your heels will be a little bit apart, or you can have your feet a few inches apart to improve your balance.
  3. Relax your arms so they are resting at your sides but are still active. Your shoulder blades will be rolled down and onto your back, your neck elongated, and your palms facing forward to keep them engaged.
  4. As you inhale and exhale here, shift your weight just the tiniest bit back and forth in your feet, to see if you really are standing equally into both sides. Consider lifting just your toes up and spreading them out, or maybe even seeing if you can get all 4 corners of your feet to take your weight equally.
  5. Take 5 deep breaths here.

Standing Forward Bend

This pose calms the brain, relieves stress, fatigue, and anxiety, and stimulates the kidneys, liver, and digestion. It also feels kind of like you’re giving yourself a hug, which is never a bad thing.

Muscles worked: Standing Forward Bend works your spinal muscles, your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and piriformis.

Click here to see demonstration

  1. From Mountain pose, take a deep breath in, lifting your hands up and out, until they meet above your head.
    As you exhale that breath, fold at your hip joints (not your waist), keeping your torso long and lifted as you do.
  2. Your legs will remain straight, so you will place your hands wherever is most comfortable for you: on your shins, ankles, feet, or even the floor. You can also bring your palms to the backs of your calves or ankles. (Note: If none of those options feel OK for your body, hold opposite elbows.)
  3. Keep your feet planted firmly and your hips over your heels. As you stay here for 5 deep, even breaths, remember to elongate your core and spine on your inhalations. Release into your bend with your exhalations. Fully relax your head and neck.
  4. When you have completed five full breaths here, release your arms from wherever they were as you exhale, and rise back up, lifting from your hip joints and core, as you inhale.
  5. Return to Mountain pose for 5 breaths to end the practice.

Now you should be all stretched out and ready to start your day!

References:
Debono, M., Ghobadi, C., Rostami-Hodjegan, A., Huatan, H., Campbell, M. J., Newell-Price, J., … Ross, R. J. (2009, May). Modified-release hydrocortisone to provide circadian cortisol profiles. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19223520.
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Pizer, A. (2019, February 28). Strengthen Your Legs with Warrior I. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.verywellfit.com/warrior-i-virabhadrasana-3567135.
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Pizer, A. (2019, July 31). How Do You Do Tadasana, Yoga’s Mountain Pose? Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.verywellfit.com/mountain-pose-tadasana-3567127.
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Pizer, A. (2019, August 9). Find Your Focus for Yoga’s Standing Forward Bend. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.verywellfit.com/standing-forward-bend-uttanasana-3567133.

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