By Kris Denning
I remember watching in anticipation as my newborn baby began to wake up. Before she even opened her eyes a crack, she was yawning and stretching and moving her body parts in all directions from head to toes. It seemed to take her a half an hour before she would complete her pre-wake routine. I didn’t exactly have as much time to watch my second baby’s wake up ritual, but I’m sure it was similar. It is in our nature to stretch our bodies upon awakening.
Think about how long we spend lying in bed at night, hopefully at least 7 -8 hours. How jarring to go from lying down for so long, to getting out and moving around without a little preparation! I’m not suggesting you get out of bed and start a stretching routine every day, (as a Yogi I recommend it, but I’m also realistic). I’m suggesting a good stretch before you even open your eyes. Whatever it is that wakes you up in the morning – the smell of coffee, the coo of a baby, birds chirping, or that dreaded alarm clock, give yourself the snooze time to stretch and loosen up your joints before you step foot out of bed.
When you first start to wake up, take a nice deep breath of gratitude – why not? It’s always a good day when you wake up and still have that breath of life, right? Now, slide the pillow over and take a full body stretch, turning your ankles and wrists, stretching your fingers and toes. Eyes still closed. Draw one knee in towards your chest, pointing and flexing your feet. Repeat on the other side. Then, slowly roll onto your stomach, hugging the pillow under your torso, and if you can, bend your knees so that you can sit back toward your heels. Child’s pose. Eyes still closed. Perhaps shift your hips from one side to the other if it feels good.
After that, gently roll onto your back and bring yourself up to sitting. Open your eyes and take one arm toward the ceiling, reaching up and over as far as you can. Breathe. Repeat on the other side. Then, hug the pillow or a couple of pillows toward your chest, and fold forward with your knees bent. Then, lift your gaze and your chest as you inhale, and fold forward again with your legs lengthened. Once you climb out of bed, stand tall for a moment and open your chest by interlacing your hands behind your low back, reaching down and away.
Take several breaths with each stretch, letting your body decide how long to hold them. Add or subtract any of those recommended stretches to suit your needs. The important thing is to give your body a little time to loosen up and adjust to waking after that long slumber.
Kris Denning teaches yoga and pilates at Timberhill Athletic Club. Her interests include personal wellness, writing, family, gardening, and animals. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tacyourhealth.weebly.com