Tired? Lacklustre in the morning? Always feeling fatigued throughout the day? Kickstarting your day with a few morning stretches can massively impact your energy levels, meaning you might not be reaching for that double shot of espresso come mid-morning.
But where do we start? From child’s pose to downward dog, the world of stretching can seem both intimidating and, well, dare we say it, challenging, especially for those who aren’t flexible or have just never done it.
We caught up with former dancer and barre instructor, Carly Bateman, who runs her own online barre studio, Barre by Bates. A platform that aims to help women to improve both their mental and physical health through movement.
Carly gives us the lowdown on why stretching can help you feel energised, along with the best stretches to do every morning to help you feel wide awake throughout the day.
She explains: “We often associate stretching with cooling down, loosening up or as a way to relax but there’s actually lots of easy stretches that are designed to invigorate and revive our minds.
When the body is stiff or hasn’t moved for a while, you tend to feel lethargic. Stretching helps to get your blood and muscle tissues moving, which results in an increased blood flow which means there’s increased oxygen around the body. The mix of brain stimulation and physical movement, helps you feel more energised."
5 morning stretches to kickstart your day
1. Child’s pose
Child’s pose helps to increase circulation, relieve stress and calm the brain.
How to do it
- Start with your knees nice and wide (around the same width as the mat)
- Place your hands as far in front of you as possible and stretch out, using your forehead as a rest
- Take 10 deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth
- Gently walk your hands over to the right side of the mat and feel that stretch on your left side
- Then, go back to the centre and do the same on the other side. Walk your hands over to the left side of the mat and feel the stretch on your right side
2. Cat-cow’s pose
This pose helps to improve posture and balance. It’s also a powerful stretch for the mind and is associated with increased emotional stability, balance and helps to improve mental focus. Ideal for if you have a big day or meeting ahead of you that requires a lot of concentration.
How to do it
- Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over the knees, placing the weight evenly through the hands and legs
- Gently roll your shoulders back and move your chin up and curve your back (this is the cow part of the pose)
- As you breathe out, slowly round your spine and push your shoulders right up to the ceiling (this is the cat part of the pose)
- Repeat the movement at least five times, focusing on inhaling as you cow pose and exhaling as you cat pose
3. Downward Dog
This pose helps to strengthen the upper body, stimulates blood flow, improves posture and fine-tunes your foot muscles.
How to do it
- Start on all fours with your hands shoulder width apart and your shoulders above your wrists. Your hips should be above or slightly above your knees
- Then, tuck your toes under the mat and gently extend your legs so your bum is in the air (your body should now be in an upside down v shape)
- Gently lift your heels off the ground and feel the stretch in the back of your calves, whilst extending and lengthening your spine and hold for 10 seconds, taking note of your breath whilst you do it
- Lift up your right leg and gently extend it out as far as you can
- If you want to take it a step further, slowly bend your knee back and hold. Take a big exhale in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Repeat on the other leg
4. Triangle stretch
This gives a deep stretch for the hamstrings, groins and hips. The posture encourages overall balance and stability whilst strengthening the muscles of the lower body.
How to do it
- You’d usually do this stretch after downward dog, as it can be easily transitioned from the downward dog stretch
- Keep your legs shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent
- Bend your upper body over a low as you can go whilst gently placing your hands on the floor in a comfortable position
- Take your left hand to the centre and use your right hand to slowly push your right leg to a straight position, keeping a nice bend in the left leg
- Reach your right arm towards the ceiling and feel the stretch within the spine
- Rotate the body and repeat the same motion on the left side
5. Neck stretch
Sat at a computer all day? This is amazing for you. Whilst it’s a simple one, it’s great at relieving neck strain caused by leaning over a laptop all day.
How to do it
- Keep your legs shoulder width or a little wider apart
- Take your right fingertips on to your left ear and gently pull it towards your left shoulder
- Repeat on the other side
- Hands on the back of our head, inhale open your chest and gaze up. Slowly exhale and come down
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