Start by getting up half an hour to an hour earlier than you normally do. I sneak downstairs while everyone is still sleeping; the house is quiet, and the sun is just coming through the blinds. If you can, get outside and feel mother earth beneath your feet. The crisp morning air will help to energize you as well.
Medat-Stretching (I just made that up!)
Meditate while you stretch. Take a deep breath and be thankful for a new day. Stretching can be used to ease soreness from the previous day’s workout or from chronic back pain.
Stretching first thing in the morning will give you energy to face your day and give your metabolism a jump start, too! Remember to breathe and keep your mind in the present; don’t start thinking about the day ahead just yet. This time is yours and yours alone; appreciate, enjoy and cherish it. If you have kids, you will especially cherish the peace and quiet.
Before you begin, take a moment to ground yourself. This can be done indoors as well, but is much more effective outside. Stand in mountain pose, feet shoulder-width apart, spine straight and imagine the energy from mother earth start to flow up and down your legs and torso.
You can visualize the energy to be green or brown to represent the earth. Once you are comfortable, imagine the energy reaching down into the ground, connecting your legs and torso to the earth. Picture roots shooting out of the bottom of your feet and into the ground, connecting you to the planet.
When I’m indoors, I picture my roots breaking through the foundation of my house and deep into the ground. Once you are used to this meditation, it should take you less than a minute to get into the zone.
Why take the time to ground yourself? Because it will keep you feeling balanced and in control for the rest of the day, which is very important for dieters. If you feel yourself being tempted or stressed, take a few seconds and recall the feeling of your roots connecting to the earth; you are an unmovable mountain of self-control!
Now that your mind and intentions are in the right place, you can begin your morning stretching routine.
Go at your own pace and keep your mind in the present. Use nose breathing, like in yoga. Remember: This is not a workout. This is an exercise in self-awareness and mindfulness. Feel each stretch waking you up a little more; appreciate the feeling of simply breathing and feeling alive with every stretch of every body part. I get a rewarding ‘pop’ whenever I stretch out my lower back in the morning—ecstasy!
If you have a problem area, like lower back pain, look up specific stretches that you can do to help yourself. For instance, pigeon pose is excellent for stretching out your glute muscles.
When your glutes are tight, they tend to pull on your lower back muscles and cause discomfort. If you are looking for a basic morning routine, here are some videos that will get you to love morning stretching:
Now that you’re at work, comfortably chained to your desk in front of the computer, remember that it’s OK to take breaks. Stretch out your shoulders while waiting for your document to print.
Take a walk instead of sending an email. Moving and stretching throughout the day will reverse the OZO (office zombie onset) that we are all familiar with. At the end of the day you’ll be ready to enjoy your evening, and are more likely to hit the gym instead of the pizzeria on the way home because you will be feeling relaxed and in control.
Use Your Chair as a Stretching Tool
While seated, hold onto the right bottom side of your chair and let your weight and head fall to left for a good neck stretch (remember to breath and alternate sides).
To stretch tight glutes, sit with your back straight, cross your ankle over your knee and bend forward slightly—you will feel the amazing stretch that will continue to ease tension on your lower back throughout the day. Always hold your stretches for 20 to 30 seconds, and don’t forget to do both sides of your body!
Reap the Rewards
Once you get into the habit of stretching in the wee hours of the morning, you will discover the following changes to your life:
- Weight Loss – Yep, it’s true! Stretching aids in digestion
- A better sleep at night
- Easier to get out of bed in the morning
- Lowered blood pressure
- Better able to handle conflicts
- Increased self-control
- Better concentration
You can also give yourself a quick stretch before bed to help you sleep better, but be careful not to get your heart rate up with a long routine just before getting into bed. That would prove to be counter-productive.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to take it outside, will you? Where’s your favorite place to stretch, and what are your favorite stretches to do in the morning?