HEALTH, self care

Lets stretch and loosen up..

Everybody needs something to wake up in the morning. 10 alarms, a cup of coffee, a cup of tea or a splash of water on their face. We need something to set that kick in to get us started with the day. Similarly our body also needs something to wake up. We often feel lethargic and heavy and stiff after waking up in the morning.

Stretching is known to have many benefits pre and post workout. Similarly it has many benefits when done first thing in the morning. Stretching every part individually may take up a lot of time and since most of us are running late in the mornings, we might avoid it.

So here are few stretching exercises that will give you a full body stretch and will get you ready for the day. Make sure to invest in a good quality comfortable pair of leggings, a full support sports bra and a tank top which moves with your movements and doesnt restrict them.

Standing side bending-

Stand with your feet together. Now slowly take your arms overhead and interlace your fingers, with index fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Inhale deeply while doing so.

Now exhale slowly and bend our upper body to either of the sides. Remember you have to stretch just the upper body, your hips shouldnt sway or twist.

When you feel the stretch, maintain that position for 5 counts and then slowly come back to the centre. While maintaining this stretch, do not hold your breath.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Forward bending

Stand with your feet slightly apart and knees slightly bent. Always keep in mind that knees shouldnt be in a fully extended or hyperextended position. You dont have to lock them.

Inhale deeply and extend your arms back with your fingers interlaced behind.

Now, breathe out and start bending forwards, with your arms simultaneously moving towards your head, fingers towards your ceiling. Always maintain your lumbar curve while bending.

Stop where you feel the stretch and hold for 5 counts.

Repeat 5 times.

Inchworm to downward dog-

Stand straight with feet slightly apart. Bend forwards as if trying to touch your toes. Place your hands on the floor and walk forwards with your hands and stop when you attain a plank position.

Exhale and lift your heels away from the floor and lengthen your tailbone/ sitting bone away from the back of your pelvis as if you are lifting it towards the ceiling.

Try and stretch your heels down towards the floor and straighten your knees, but be sure not to lock them.

Keep the head between the upper arms and dont let it hang.

Maintain this position for 5 counts, and then come back to the standing position in the reverse sequence.

Repeat 5 times.

Runner’s stretch-

Stand with your feet hip width apart. Now step your left foot forward and lower yourself into a lunge. Place both the hands on either side of your left foot but shoulder width apart.

Breathe in deeply. Now straighten your left leg. When you feel the stretch, count till 5 while maintaining that position. Slowly return to the lunge position.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Seated back twist-

Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Bend your left knee and step your left foot over the right leg and place next to your right knee. Place your left hand on the floor for support.

Bend your right elbow and turn to the left. Place the back of your right arm against the left knee. Inhale and sit tall.

Exhale as you twist, pressing your right arm onto the left knee and look over the left shoulder. Stop when you feel the stretch, hold for 5 counts. Do not hold your breath. Slowly come back to the centre and repeat on the other side.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Foetal/ baby pose- this stretch also acts as a cool down.

Kneel down on the floor and touch your big toes to each other as you sit on your heels. Place your hands on your thighs. Inhale.

Exhale and bend forwards with your palms sliding on the floor. Lay your torso between your thighs as you do so.

Stretch the tail bone away from the back of the pelvis as you lift the back of your head slightly away from the back of your neck. Stretch your arms forwards and place them in front in line with your knees.

Since this is also a resting pose, you can stay in it for a few minutes.

Benefits

1. Increases the blood flow and gives a boost of energy throughout the day. It prevents lethargy and feeling of tiredness.

2. Increases oxygen flow to the brain for improved morning alertness.

3. It helps to calm your mind.

4. Increases flexibility and range of motion and thus fewer aches and pains throughout the day.

5. Improved posture- for people who have desk jobs at work or work in front of the computers for longer periods of time. These people often develop poor posture due to overstretched back muscles and tight chest muscles. These stretches when done before starting your day will loosen up those muscles and if done regularly will improve the posture over a period of time.

6. And of course, you will burn some calories as well.

“If you stretch correctly and regularly, you will find that every movement you make becomes easier”.