Hi everyone! I’m Brittany, and this is Kelly, and we’d like to welcome you to the Bulldog Youtube channel!
Brit and I are both leaders here at Bulldog, and collectively we have spent thousands of hours studying, practicing, and teaching yoga. We’ve learned that not only can adopting a yoga practice help you calm your mind and connect with your breath to give you psychological benefits, but it can also help you get physically fit, as well.
A physical yoga practice can help you add greater strength, flexibility, and focus to your life. I know when I was first training to become a yoga teacher, I spent a TON of time learning about anatomy and alignment—how our bodies move, why they should move that way, and what happens when they don’t move as they should.
I think that’s the best part about yoga—you can flow at any pace you like or do whatever poses feel good for you because at the end of the day, the goal of yoga is simply getting your body moving in a way that makes you feel light and happy. Every posture looks and feels different for everyone, so your yoga journey is uniquely personal. There is no wrong way to practice yoga!
Exactly, Brit! You can mix and match different elements of yoga in a way that feels awesome for you mentally and physically! And that can look different every day, or even at different times of day.
Oh yeah—I know that when I do yoga at night before bed it looks TOTALLY different than when I do it in the morning.
Ugh, my body does NOT like a fast class in the morning, that’s for sure.
Boy do I have some tips for you, Kel! I think a lot of people have that same issue—they feel stiff in the morning when they first wake up and have trouble getting up out of bed and getting moving for the day. There’s definitely that group of morning people who love their power yoga bright and early and can pop right out of bed, but for those who like to gradually ease into their day, let’s run through some morning yoga stretches that will get you feeling ready to start your day!
Okay, so according to the BBC’s Science Focus magazine, you lose muscle tone when you sleep. Which makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Stretching can actually help recalibrate your muscles by momentarily taking them out of their normal range of motion and repositioning all the fluids that pool along your back when you’re asleep.
The very first thing that I do when I wake up is spend a minute laying in bed, focusing on my breath moving through my body. Harvard Health recommends doing a little body scan just to see how your body’s feeling for the day, where it’s holding stress. Then I do a HUGE superhero stretch—it feels so good for my back and it’s a gentle way to transition out of a position of stillness and cue my body to get moving for the day.
That’s a great way to wake your nerves back up and bring some sensation back into your body! [Brit does a big stretch] It does feel really good, you’re right. Let’s go over some more yoga postures that can help us get some early-morning mobility without even having to get out of bed yet!
Here are 5 stretches to do in the morning that will have you feeling awake and ready to start your day strong:
#1) Reclined Side Bends
After I do my big morning stretch, I like to lengthen my side body to bring my full range of motion back into my body. Brit, reach your arms overhead and stretch as long as you can, squeezing your legs together. Then, lean over to your right side. Keep your biceps close to your ears and try to draw your right shoulder down towards your right ankle and your right ankle up towards your right shoulder. Press your left hip out to the left.
I feel a really nice stretch through my left side here!
Now bring your arms and legs back long through center and move to the other side. Crunch through your left side and you’ll feel your right side lengthen. Try to focus on keeping your neck long, too, and pulling your shoulder blades together on your back. That looks great! Side stretches are a gentle way to stimulate your liver, kidney, and spleen functions while helping your arms, spine, and ribcage get more flexible. What an awesome way to start your day!
#2) Supine Twist
One way that I like to wring out my spine is by doing some supine twists. Nothing feels better than just twisting out all the stiffness from sleep! Kel, start by drawing your right knee in towards your chest. Drape it over the left side of your body, and be careful to keep both of your shoulders pressing down into your bed—you want to twist through your back, not your legs!
You can even look over your right shoulder here to deepen the twist! When you’re ready to switch sides, just send your right leg wrong and draw your left knee in. Pull it across your body and remember to keep your chest broad and your shoulders pressing down here. Let gravity pull that top knee down!
This feels great in my back and my hips. Let’s go over another hip stretch next!
#3) Supine Butterfly
If you have tight hips, or if you tend to sleep on your side, an inner thigh stretch is going to feel really nice in the morning. For reclined butterfly pose, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall apart. You’ll feel a great stretch in your groin!
This pose is easily modified, too! Sometimes I’ll grab a couple pillows or bunch up a blanket and prop up my knees so the stretch is less severe.
If you wanted, you could even slide a pillow longways under your spine! These gentle morning stretches are easy to adjust, and you conveniently have some makeshift props right next to you in your bed.
#4) Seated Cat/Cows
For a gentle way to add some more spinal flexibility to your day, sit up into an easy seat! Just cross your legs here. Then arch your back—send your shoulders back and heart forward. This is cow pose.
You can look up slightly by dropping the back of your head back gently. Move into cat pose next—round your spine and look down softly. Then do each pose again! Try to initiate the movement from your tailbone.
Draw it out and back for cow, then tuck it under for cat. Inhale cow, exhale cat. Flow between the two poses and follow the pace of your breath for a few rounds.
Holding cat pose at the top for a moment can help you release tension in your upper back, and moving between cat and cow actually helps you stretch out both your primary and secondary spinal curves, according to Do You Yoga, which can actually help improve circulation to your vertebral discs.
#5) Seated Forward Fold
I swear, NOTHING feels better in the morning than stretching the backs of my legs.
That’s why we’re finishing this morning stretch yoga sequence with a forward fold! It’s another super easy way to stay chill in bed but still work that whole back chain of your body. Sit up here, and send your legs long out in front of you, feet flexed. Reach your arms out straight in front of you, suck in your belly button, and fold forward.
I guess that’s why they call it “forward fold,” huh?
Exactly! Telling it like it is. Try not to round your spine too much here, keep yourself straight as you try to draw your nose down towards your knee. You can always keep a slight bend in your knees or slide a pillow under them if your legs are really feeling the burn here.
You also don’t have to fold all the way forward! It’s okay if you can’t touch your toes–just rest your hands down as far as you can, like on your ankles or your shins. Challenge yourself to stay here as long as you can–your endurance will build every time you pause in a pose and breathe for a little.
Well, Brit, I don’t think I’m going to be a morning person any time soon, but adding these stretches to the start of my day might make it a little easier for me to get out of bed, at least.
It definitely will. To sum it up, these 5 morning yoga stretches will wake up your body and help you get your full range of motion going so you can have an active day:
- Reclined Side Bends
- Supine Twist
- Supine Butterfly
- Seated Cat/Cows
- Seated Forward Fold
We hope that you can revamp your mornings and make a healthy habit of stretching it out right after you wake up. Do you do any of these postures already, or do you have a favorite you’ll start to do now?
Comment your favorite pose to do first thing in the morning down below!
Thanks for joining us to learn about morning yoga stretches!
Now, I’m gonna go take a nap so I can wake up and try out some of these poses… Brit?
Guess she beat me to it! See ya, Bulldoggers.