Even if you get a solid eight hours of sleep, mornings can be rough. For most of us, there’s nothing worse than the dreaded sound of our alarm. After finally dragging ourselves out of bed, we then rush through our morning routine instead of giving our body the time and it needs to prepare for the day.
Taking just five minutes to stretch before jumping in the shower can have incredible results. As well as releasing stress and tension from the muscles, stretching allows us to start each day with movement, intention and relaxing breathing. If you’re strapped for time, don’t worry about putting on your yoga bra. Simply practice in your pajamas before getting dressed for the day.
So, what are these life-changing stretches? In this article, some of the top yoga teachers share their 7 favorite morning stretches.
Rina Jakubowicz, founder of Rina Yoga
Reclined Spinal Twist is a favorite of Rina Jakubowicz, the founder of Rina Yoga. To practice the stretch, begin lying on your back. Bring your knees into your chest and stretch your arms alongside your body to form a “T” shape. Make sure that your palms are facing upwards. Take a deep breath in and draw your tailbone down towards the floor. As you breathe out, move both of your knees over the right and turn your head to the left. Finally, press your shoulders into the ground. You are in Reclined Spinal Twist. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side. Before releasing the stretch, hug your arms around your knees and slowly rock from side to side. This simple technique will release tension from the lower back.
Kino MacGregor, founder of Omstars
Founder of Omstars, Kino MacGregor likes to start the day with Sun Salutations. To practice this stretch, begin in Mountain Pose. As you breathe in, keep your palms together and raise your arms above your head. Take a few seconds to gaze at your thumbs. As you breathe out, hinge at the waist and touch your hands on your feet. On your next breath in, lift your upper body and gaze forward. On an exhalation, step back into Four-Limbed Staff Pose. As you breathe in, draw your belly button towards the mat and lift your shoulders, opening your heart to Upward-Facing Dog. As you breathe out, move your hips up and back to practice Downward Facing Dog. Stay in this posture for 30 seconds. On an inhalation, move your feet forward to rest between your hands. As you breathe out, lift your chest into Upward-Facing Dog. On your final breath in, stand up and raise your hands above your head, returning to Mountain Pose.
Eoin Finn, founder of Blissology Yoga
Cow Face Pose is a favorite stretch of Eoin Finn, founder of Blissology Yoga. To practice the asana, sit on your mat with your right leg crossed over your left. Engage your feet so they’re rooting down instead of floppy. This action stabilizes the ankle and knee joints to allow you to stretch your hip muscles. You are in Cow Face Pose. Stay in the position for around 30 seconds before repeating on the other side. If your body becomes lose after a few minutes, enjoy a deeper stretch by pressing your top knee across your body with your hand and lean forward to bring your hips into flexion. Pull your sitting bone backward to further open your hips.
Mary Beth LaRue, co-founder of Rock Your Bliss
Co-founder of Rock Your Bliss, Mary Beth LaRue, enjoys Seated Twists and Shoulder Stretching in the morning. To begin, sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Then, breathe in and reach your arms above your head. Bend your arms over to the right, placing your left hand overhead and your right hand on the mat. As you breathe out, lift your chest towards the sky. Stay in position for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
Sage Rountree, author of EVERYDAY YOGA and LIFELONG YOGA
Supine Bharadvajasana is a favorite stretch of Yoga author, Sage Rountree. To practice the stretch, lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Raise your arms overhead and rest them on the mat before dropping your knees to the right. Stay in the position for 1 minute before repeating on the other side. For a deeper stretch, cross your left ankle over your right knee.
Larissa Hall Carlson, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist and Practitioner
Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist Larissa Hall Carlson is a fan of Sleeping Hero Pose. To practice, lie down on the mat facing up. Slowly bend and fold one leg at a time, keeping your feet as close to your hips as possible. Touch your ankles against your outer hips, interlace your fingers and raise your arms overhead. Bring your chin into your chest to stretch the back of your neck. Close your eyes, relax and breathe slowly and deeply for 1 minute.
Kia Miller, creator of Radiant Body Yoga
Downward Facing Dog is the favorite stretch of Kia Miller, creator of Radiant Body Yoga. To practice the stretch, begin standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Next, hinge at the waist and lower your upper body toward the ground until your hands are securely on the mat. Your body should now form a triangle. Tight hamstrings may prevent beginners from touching the ground; to make the pose a little easier, bend your knees slightly throughout the asana. Next, move your head between your upper arms and spread your fingers for additional balance. You are in Downward Facing Dog. For best results, breathe deeply whilst practicing the pose and hang your head gently between your shoulders.
Above, the top yoga teachers share their 7 favorite morning stretches. To start the day feeling energized and refreshed, hit the mat before jumping in the shower. If you want to put on your yoga pants, that’s fine! If not, just practice in your pajamas.