Morning Stretch Routine – Wake Up Like a Dog
Written by Connor Nellans
For a few years now I have made waking up with a light stretch routine part of my morning ritual. I will work myself through 5 or 6 stretches to get the blood flowing, become aware of my breath, and loosen up my joints to get the day started. I want to share my 5 favorite (and one bonus!) morning stretches so that you can implement some or all of them into your morning routine as well!
Morning Stretch Routine
Downward Facing Dog
What do man’s best friend and yogis across the globe have in common? They love the down dog stretch! Anyone who has a canine friend or has been to any yoga class knows the move. Place your hands on the floor. Push your butt into the air while pushing your heels to the floor. Feel the stretch through the back of your legs and into your low back. Feel free to add in a few heel pedals to get a bit different range as you like!
Upward Facing Dog
Yet another favorite shared by furry and flexi friends everywhere, the upward facing dog. Pushing through the palms of your hands, have a proud, forward-facing chest while the tops of your feet meet the ground behind you creating a nice backbend. This may be a big stretch for some, so feel free to go to your thighs and forearms as needed.
And now for a stretch adopted from our feathery friends. For the pigeon stretch, start in a plank position from the hands and toes, bring your ankle up and as close to the opposite wrist as possible. Settle that leg onto the floor as you stay on your hands, go to your forearms, or for the freaky-flexi, put your arms all the way out in front of yourself and settle your chest to your leg.
Or as we affectionately know it, the bottom of the squat. Start with feet about hip-width, sit back and down as low as you can while maintaining an even balance between the balls of your feet and your heel. Keep that chest tall and knees out. For extra credit, place your elbows inside your knees and add slight outward pressure on your legs.
Supine Spinal Twist
I usually get a few satisfying pops from the low back with this one! Lay on your back, bring your knees to your chest, drop both knees to one side and hold that position. Repeat the same move in the opposite direction.
Bonus stretch for you crazy people out there who really want to jump-start your day!
Get Your Wheel On! Laying on your back, bring your heels to your butt with flat feet, place your hands flat on the floor above your shoulders with your fingers pointing back at yourself. Push equally through your flat feet and palms to raise your body from the floor, creating a half-circle with your body and the floor. Take this one easy and be sure you are confident you can get into the proper position before attempting this stretch. Check out this post for more tips on this move! And this post for some advanced versions – some of which might be better for a warm-up than a morning routine.
Morning Stretch Routine to Try
The Flow: I usually spend 5-15 minutes incorporating one or all of these stretches in the morning. Don’t be married to one specific routine, instead, have some fun with it and mix and match as you see fit. You may even have a couple of your own favorite stretches to incorporate! That being said, here is an example of how I may flow through these movements on a given morning:
– Push into Down Dog, hold for 10-60 seconds
– Bring one ankle to my opposite wrist and settle into Pigeon pose, hold for 10-60 seconds
– Push back into plank and bring my other leg into the Pigeon pose, hold for 10-60 seconds
– Push into Down Dog, hold for 10-60 seconds
– Flip my feet so that the tops of my feet are down, push through the hands into a tall chest, hold Upward Dog for 10-60 seconds
– Come to a standing position, find a comfortable foot width and sit into Malasana, hold for 10-60 seconds, add in the outward leg pressure as you like
– Lay onto my back, bring knees together and drop them to the right for 10-60 seconds, switch sides once ready for Supine Twist
– Place feet and hands flat on the floor while laying on my back, press into Wheel and hold for 10-60 seconds.
*Try to breathe deep, even, and consistent through the nose while working through your routine.
Give this routine a try or think up your own! Start your day like a dog and enjoy your new-found mobility, relaxed mindset as you move into your day, and the breath awareness needed to have a clear mind throughout your day!