If you have a cat or dog, you may have noticed that they often stretch when waking from a good nap – a little downward dog, a spinal massage; I swear my cat knows cobra pose and of course she has perfected cat pose! We can learn a lot from our four-legged, furry friends, because 15 minutes of yoga stretching a day has several health benefit.
- Reduces back pain: Stretching in the morning reduces and prevents back pain by relieving the tension in your spine and surrounding muscles.
- Improves flexibility: Sitting all day at a desk job tightens and shortens your muscles and tendons, reducing your flexibility. Regular morning stretches lengthen and relax your muscles, improving your flexibility.
- Increases energy: 15 minutes of simple stretching in the morning will increase blood flow to your muscles and brain, which can relieve muscle tension and sharpen your concentration. And the more blood flow in your muscles, the more energy you will have to start your day right!
Making the time to stretch in the morning won’t substitute a good, old-fashion sweat session, but it’s a great compliment to your workouts and it’s a wonderful way to start your day while you’re on vacation and can’t squeeze in the gym time.
Last week I had an amazing time visiting New Orleans for Jazz Fest with my husband and our friends James & Ana. With all the sight-seeing, eating, and rocking out to amazing music, our 5 day NOLA adventure left little time for sleep let alone work out. We walked everywhere, danced, and walked some more. By the second day into our trip, my muscles, especially my lower back and legs, were definitely feeling tight – I realized how much I missed my time on the mat!
The next morning when I woke up, I decided to do 15 minutes of stretching and my body thanked me for it! Here’s what I did in my short but sweet good morning yoga session:
- Child’s pose: starting out nice and easy and rolling my forward gently from side to side on the floor.
- Cat/Cow: slow and with deep exhalations, matching movement to breath.
- Downward dog: I took my time in my first downdog, pedaling out my feet and shaking my head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to relax my neck muscles.
- Sun salutation: 3 rounds
- Crescent lunge: ahhhhh…this really stretched my hip flexors nicely by tucking my tailbone.
- Revolving crescent lunge with hands at heart center: a nice little twist to waken my spine.
- 10 yogi push-ups: yeah I know, I surprised myself too!
- Downward dog: it was pretty amazing to feel the difference in my first downward dog to my last one, even in just 15 minutes.
- Rag doll: winding down with a gentle sway.
I finished my morning yoga session with a slow roll-up, vertebrae by vertebrae, rolling my shoulders back and raising my head last – this felt AMAZING and I was ready to rock the new day!
So take a queue from your beloved pet and make some time to stretch in the mornings – do a little downward dog together! Make time to stretch when you’re vacationing and putting in the miles exploring a new city by foot and ENJOY the benefits of that good morning yoga session.
Peace. Love. Namaste.