What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I think most of you just answered, “check my phone,” which I know I am definitely guilty of. I also know that there are so many better ways to start my morning. Wouldn’t you agree? Like how about some morning stretches?! 😉
Two years ago, I made the decision to join a soccer team. I hadn’t played since elementary school, and it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. It has made me so much more aware of my health and how much my body was lacking daily exercise. It’s made me feel like I should tell everyone to go out and join a team, but I know that’s not a reality.
So, what is your reality? Do you think you can take a few minutes out of every morning, put the phone aside, and move your body? My friend Lisa, a not-so-typical online health coach at Body Zone Fitness, can help. Since working with her and figuring out WHY I want to improve my health and wellness, I’ve found myself so much more motivated and encouraged to stay on track.
We’ve teamed up and put together 6 stretches that are good for every age and ability level. You can do these at home and at any time of day… all it takes is the commitment to move your body.
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HERE‘S WHAT LISA HAD TO SAY:
Q: Why do you find it important to start your day with morning stretches?
Having a morning routine is like having cashew milk in my coffee –
it makes my day flow better and gives me clarity. We’ve all heard that if you can win the morning, you can win the day. I have found that having a morning routine allows me to have positive momentum, rather than being reactive. A lot of us are victims to waking up first thing in the morning, grabbing our phones and reacting to our day. I spend my entire day reacting, which is why I try to spend my morning proactively taking care of myself, which includes my morning stretches.
During my morning stretches, I focus on my breathing, goals for the day, and meditation. The headspace app is a great resource to put on while completing your stretches. I take this time to be present and connect with my body before I have to run around chasing kids and training clients for the rest of my day.
Q: How do you stay motivated?
I have clients that ask me all the time “Lisa, how that heck do you stay so motivated?” The answer is that I don’t stay motivated – I just keep focusing on my WHY. Determining and creating your WHY is the single most important thing you can do for yourself before starting any journey. Set an emotional and realistic answer as to why you want to achieve that goal in the first place. Having a strong enough “why” will make you jump out of bed in the morning. It will set you on the right path when motivation is running low or on those days where you just don’t feel like doing anything.
I also realize I have a choice. I have a choice to stay where I am right now and own that decision or I have a choice to evolve. I have the ability to change my life, make it better and move with ease. And only I can take me there.
Photography by Julie Christine Photography
6 MORNING STRETCHES PERFECT TO START YOUR DAY
This is my go-to morning stretch routine to get my body feeling refreshed as well as help alleviate hip, shoulder and back pain.
1. Frog Pose: This one is my favourite stretches of all time. Give it a try and you will soon see why I love it so much! Begin in child’s pose, placing your knees away from the body. Slowly lift your hips forward and lower them to the floor, creating a stretch across the inner hip region and pelvic floor. Drop your chest and arms to the floor to a laying position, while lightly putting pressure to lower your hips. Breath in for 6 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds. Repeat 3x.
2. Lower Back Twist: This movement not only helps stretch your lower back but also your glutes, which can tighten when you’re experiencing lower back issues, ultimately causing more pain. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to the side in a “T” position. Keep your shoulders on the ground as you gently roll one knee to one side while keeping the other leg straight. Stay here 20 to 30 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
3. Overhead reaches: Because we sit all day, our upper body, especially our lats, can get very tight. A tight upper body can lead to poor posture, and this stretch will address that. This is also super helpful for momma’s with little ones who carry kids all day. Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart. Place hands above the head and lock fingers together. Stretch and reach your hands away from the body and slightly pull your hands in one direction to the side. Hold for 20 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
4. Lunge Stretch: If those hips flexors are tight, then this is the stretch you are looking for. Stand with your feet together. Step forward with your right leg and extend your left leg behind you. Now, lower your left knee to the ground. Keep your front knee directly above your ankle. You will feel the stretch in your left hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
5. Downward-Facing Dog: This classic yoga pose helps open up the hips, relaxes your lower back, and centres your entire body. Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first, keep the knees slightly bent, and the heels lifted away from the floor. Take a deep breath in, then exhale while you pull your hips up toward the ceiling, straightening out your legs, and driving your heels toward the floor as far as you can. Alternatively, you can bend one knee at a time to ease into the stretch more effectively. Hold Down Dog for 5-10 or more breaths, release onto the knees to come out of the posture.
6. Cobra: Lie on your belly with your legs hips-width distance apart. Place your hands below your shoulders. Exhale as you lift your head up off the ground, press your torso up and keep your hips and thighs on the ground. Gently arch your lower back and gaze forward or slightly up towards the ceiling. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.