Does stretching make us flexible?
Stretching in the morning helps us to transition from sleep to wakefulness.
Stretching improves fluid circulation
According to one study in the Journal of Psychology, fluids in our bodies are distributed differently when we lay down. For the most part, gravity pulls our body fluid toward our head, neck or spine.
When we stretch after long hours of sleep, we redistribute these fluids to get back to their original positions.
In a way, it’s possible that stretching is the human fluid reset. It prevents fluid build-ups from causing muscle injuries.
If you don’t stretch those muscles, the tightness will increase. And it can lead to more pains. Even unbearable ones if not careful.
Stretching improves our nervous system
Stretching can be our brains’ way of speaking and bringing alignment to our muscles. Let me explain.
Our nervous system comprises of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS handles involuntary activity (think of heart rate control or digestion).
There when we stretch as a morning exercise, we reboot the PNS, revving up all the body’s background processes that keep you awake and alert during the day.
For example, once we stretch, our heart rate increases, pumping blood to the muscles.
Stretching out in the morning is your body’s cue to get ready for an active day full of ups and downs.
You can see why stretching in the morning can enable you to do simple activities such as bending to pick something from the floor or reaching out to the shelf.
Morning yoga stretches
Stretches in the morning improve muscle flexibility. This is because, during sleep, some muscles stiffen. Stretches also improve blood circulation and helps deal with stress.
Sometimes, we find ourselves experiencing some sort of stiffness in our muscles when we wake up, first thing in the morning.
Impulsively, we turn to stretch them out for a few seconds before getting into the shower.
A lot of factors can cause us to wake up with aching muscles. Some would need strong medications or therapy to flash out. Others too would need simple stretches to relieve those aching muscles.
There are a million different stretches we could perform to release these tight muscles. If you are wondering where to start, don’t worry.
Here are some morning yoga stretches just right for the job:
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose is a beginner’s stretch.
It helps to stretch the thighs, hips, and ankles. At the same time, it helps reduce stress.
To get started:
Begin by getting on your knees and placing your palms on the floor. Point your fingers pointing away from you so you get into a table pose.
You can leave your knees together or slightly apart.
Lower your hips to the heels. Rest lightly on them. Stretch out your arms in front of you over your head keeping them straight.
Place your forehead on the floor.
2. Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This morning yoga stretch works on several muscles. This includes the waist, hamstrings, and specifically the back.
For those of us who wake up with a lot of discomfort at the back, the downward dog pose is just right for you.
How to get started:
Start on all fours. Go on your knees and place your palms on the floor shoulder-width apart. Point your fingers away from the body.
Raise your body on your toes. The toe should support the body up.
Keep your arms and your legs straight and make sure your waist is pointing up towards the ceiling.
Open your legs slightly apart and firmly plant your feet on the ground. Keep the arms and the legs still straight.
You can go on to bend the knees alternatively to go deeper into the pose.
3. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This pose stretches the knee, hip, shoulder, thigh, hamstring, and ankles.
Of all the morning yoga stretches, this is the best way to loosen those tight muscles in the mornings before you decide to do anything tedious.
Here’s how you begin:
Stand in a neutral position. Begin to stretch your feet apart till it looks like a triangle. Put your hands on your waist.
Let the foot of the side you want to stretch out the first face outwards in its direction. Let the right foot face rightward.
And let the right foot also face right. It shouldn’t be in a perfect position.
Stretch out your arms sideways too; keep them straight. Note that the upper body is still in position. No changes have been made to it.
At the waist, bend the body to your right and touch your right ankle with your right hand. Keep the left arm straight as now it is pointing upwards.
Turn your neck in the direction of your left arm. Stay in the position for five slow and deep breaths and move on to stretch the other side.
4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The Bow Pose is perfect to stretch out the front part of your body. And at the same time, it strengthens your back muscles.
How to do this morning yoga stretch:
Start by lying on your belly. With your left hand, grab the top side of the left foot and the right hand grabbing the top side of the right foot.
Relax your chin on the floor and relax your glutes. Inhale.
As you do this, lift your feet up as well as the upper body. As you inhale, let it kick into rising your feet up as well as your body.
Stay in this position for about five breaths.
5. Crescent Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana)
This stretch is perfect in stretching the thighs and legs. It helps to increase metabolism and start your day on a good note.
How to start:
Stretch one leg backward resting on the toes. Bend the knee of the other leg. Let the foot of the bent knee be firmly placed on the floor.
Bend the body at the waist to rest lightly on the thigh of the bent knee.
Stretch your arms close to the bent leg and let the finger pads of the hands rest lightly on the floor.
Bend the stretched out leg at the knee slightly and place the palms of both arms on the bent knee of the bent leg.
Press the upper body up until straight. Straighten the bent knee of the stretched out leg and lift your arms up towards the ceiling.
They should remain straight. For a deeper stretch, gaze up and leave your arms stretched out above your face.
6. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
This morning yoga stretch helps the hamstrings, calves, and legs.
If you wake up this morning with some stiffness in your legs, the standing forward bend pose is the beginner stretch for you.
Here’s how you do it:
Stand in a neutral position with your legs together and your feet planted firmly on the ground.
At the waist, bent the upper body down until your face almost touches your knees. Be sure to keep the back.
If you’re finding problems keeping the legs straight, don’t worry, you can bend them a little at the knee.
You can hold your ankles for the extra support. Stay in this position for about ten seconds move back to your original position.
There you have it: six wonderful beginner yoga stretches to start your morning into an action-packed day.
These morning yoga stretches work on the parts of the body you use often during the day.
So stretching them is a plus if you want your day to be an extra perfect one. When you can, also try hot yoga for similar de-stressing effects.