It was recently brought to my attention, by none other than the notorious Connor McGreggor himself that we (humanity) are the only animal on the planet that don’t stretch when we wake up. And having thought about it I have to agree, every creature from the domestic cat that adorns many a sofa and bed to the great sea eagle of the northern mountains and climates of the world stretches upon its return to reality after a night in dream land. Yet the human race tends to focus more on finding the toilet or their smart phone than stretching so much so that most of us have never even considered stretching when there is the option of hitting the snooze button instead (and some days I don’t blame you) but should we be thinking more in his mindset? Should we all be stretching?
The simple answer is yes. Yes we Damn should! So many of us have mobility issues from working desk jobs, having poor posture, carrying heavy bags or children around all the time. And many of these issues be it in mobility or back pain could be addressed, aided and at times totally alleviated by simply stretching for a few minutes each morning.
So I thought I would recommend 3 simple but effective yoga poses you could use to help loosen up, improve your flexibility, and set you up to have a good, conscious and focused day.
1. Warrior 1 pose
Begin in Mountain pose. Standing tall, feet together with your hands together at your chest as if in prayer. Lunge forward until your feet stand 3-4 feet apart and square of your hips so that your upper body is tall and facing forwards. Take your hands and reach them to the ceiling, keeping the palms facing towards each other and body upright. At the same time turn the front foot 45 degrees and the back foot 90 degrees from the front. Exhale slowly and arch the back slightly as you bend the front knee and straighten the back leg until you feel the stretch through the hips and legs and keep your upper body strong. Hold this position for 30-6 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
2. Downward facing dog
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees with the knees directly below your hips and your hands a little out in front of the shoulders. Exhale and lift your knees from the floor straightening your legs and pushing your hips and coccyx up in the air. At the same time pres the index fingers into the floor as you straighten your arms and hold the position. Draw your shoulder blades back and firm as you keep your head between your arms and shoulders, don’t arch the neck or let it drop to the floor. Either hold this position for 1-2 minutes or rise up and fall back down in and out of the position several times across the 2 minutes.
3. Child’s pose
From downwards facing dog, return to the floor kneeling and touching your big toes together and sitting your weight down on your heels. Separate your knees as wide as your hips and then exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs as you relax. Reach out in front with your hands, palms on the floor and feel your shoulder blades be pulled wide across your back opening up this entire area as you exhale and hold his position. This is a more resting pose than the first two so finish here, focus on your breathing and feel the stretch for 1-2 minutes before rising slowly to your feet and taking on the day.
By spending a few minutes in each pose this simple routine should cover most areas of the body from hips and ankles to the lower back and shoulders. By keeping the poses limited and simple it allows us to focus more on the feel of he pose rather than the position and where we are going next. Get lost in it, focus on on your body, your breathing, your stiff muscles and work it all out. Seriously try it. It’s easy, simple to follow and works wonders for helping you start the day right.
Try getting up, doing this for 6-10 minutes, having a glass of water and hopping in the shower. If you don’t feel alert and ready to take on the day then I’m sorry I can’t help you. But if you do it and really focus on what is happening as you move and stretch, you should feel pretty gosh darn good about yourself and hopefully alleviate some nagging stiffness at the same time.