If you are anything like most people, there is a good chance that every alarm that goes off means the start of a long day’s work. But taking a few minutes in order to wake up gently, before running into the shower and gulping down your breakfast like you do every morning before rushing out for work, could do you the world of good. A few gentle stretches could in fact prepare your mind and your body for the long day ahead.
And for evening stretches that help the body relax and get you ready for a deep sleep, have a look at this article.
1) A whole body stretch
On an in-breath, raise your arms above your head, fingers intertwined, and push the palms of your hands against the wall behind you, stretching out fully and making your body as long as possible. Count to 5, exhale and release the stretch. Repeat 3 times.
This movement loosens out the whole body, which can be stiff after a night’s sleep.
2) Figure 4 stretch
Cross your right foot over your left knee to make a “figure 4”, keeping your right knee turned outwards. Bend the left knee and bring it up towards the ceiling (keeping your foot on the mattress or drawing your knee up towards your chest). Hold this position for 5 deep breaths and change sides.
The position is fantastic for the hip joints, thighs and bum. It also loosens out the lower back.
3) Bed to floor stretch
Balance your two feet on the floor beside the bed, remaining seated on the bed. Keeping your knees bent, lean your head and hands towards the floor, rounding your back over your knees. Leave your head and arms to hang there for 5 breaths.
This is a great stretch for the back and can help wake you up, by bringing oxygen to the brain.
4) Knees to the chest
Start in a lying position. Bend your knees keeping the soles of your feet touching the bed. Then use your hands to draw each knee towards your chest in turn, and keep them close to you, wrapping your arms around your shins. Rest your head on a pillow and hold the position for 10 breaths.
This helps to stretch and gently awaken the lower back, while stimulating the mind and body.
5) The twist
Start from the previous position. Let go of your shins and leave your arms fall to each side, forming a “T” with your body. With the help of your core muscles, lower your legs to one side, keeping your shoulders stuck to the bed and your knees bent. If you feel comfortable in this position, turn your head to look in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold the position for 10 breaths and change sides.
This awakens the entire body, increasing blood flow and stretching out the back muscles.
6) Lean forwards
Start from a lying position and raise your chest. Keep your legs out straight, breathe in as you stretch out the spine, and on the out-breath, run your hands down towards your feet. Stretch out the spine and reach as far forwards as you can with your hands and fingers during the out-breath. Allow your neck to fall towards your legs without any tension in it. After 10 breaths, gently reverse the movement.
This stretch is excellent after a night’s sleep and before starting a long hard day. It stretches the hamstrings, the pelvis and the spine.