How to Gently Stretch into the Start of Your Day

Waking up in the morning for some of us can be challenging. Our body is stiff, the joints hurt, our back aches or we are just a bit out of sorts. Some who have minor scoliosis can feel so stiff they can hardly get out of bed.

Here are a few exercises you can try that should help you jump start your day.

While Lying in Bed

  1. Start with your arms moved out perpendicularly facing each side of the bed, palms facing out with fingers stretched up. Inhale through your nose (if possible). As you move your arms out to each side, push with your palms facing out as if you were preventing a wall from closing in on you. As you stretch, push the arms out far as you can, focusing on your palms and hold for 5 seconds.
  2. Gently release, exhale through your nose (if possible) as you fold your arms back to your chest, palms down.
  3. Move your arms to your sides.
  4. Gently release and move your head back to your pillow.
  5. Try to push the top of your head straight back until you feel a nice stretch in the neck, at the same time gently push your shoulders down by your sides. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Gently release.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 as a cycle of 3.
  8. Bend your knees and gently lift your knees up and back towards your chest.
  9. Reach both hands under your legs near the bottom of your knees (left hand under left leg, right hand under right leg and gently pull your knees up towards your chest.
  10. Hold for 5 seconds, then pulse for 5 seconds.
  11. Stay in this position and gently rock your legs to the left and then to the right for five cycles (L-R, L-R, L-R, L-R, L-R) do this slowly and gently.
  12. Release and bring your legs down flat on the mattress.
  13. Bend your knees so that your feet rest flat on the mattress.
  14. Push down on your feet and push your pelvis up
  15. Tilt your pelvis up, then tilt your pelvis down. Gently repeat moving the pelvis up and down 10 times. Repeat for a cycle of 3.
  16. Now you should be able to get out of bed easily.

Standing Up

  1. Rag Doll: stand with your head floating up, shoulders relaxed, feet close together, about 1-2 inches apart.
  2. Begin by bending your knees slightly.
  3. Place your hands on your thighs (Left on left; right on right) palms down.
  4. Start to slide your hands down towards your ankles, bend the knees and fold at the waste gently and slowly until your hands are as low as they can be comfortably.
  5. Let your head drop gently so that gravity is pulling it down.
  6. Drop your arms and let them dangle.
  7. Now, fold your arms in so that the right hand is resting on the left arm above the left elbow and the left hand is tucked under the right elbow. You should be able to comfortably let the arms dangle in this position.
  8. Try to gently lock your knees.
  9. Your head is down, your arms are relaxed holding the “bow tie” position and the lower back should be gently stretched.
  10. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  11. When through bend the knees.
  12. Let the arms drop.
  13. Push on the heels and come back up to a standing position by moving up one vertebra at a time. Be careful not to jerk up; roll up slowly so that your head is the last thing to straighten up.

The Owl Turns His Head: This is a great stretch for a stiff neck

  1. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, knees slightly bent.
  2. Stand comfortably with your head floating up. To do this correctly, locate the center of the top of your head where all the head bones meet.  In babies, this was the area of the Fontanel, and in Tai Chi it is referred to as the Bai Hui or Crown Point.
  3. Put your hands on your hips.
  4. Gently push both shoulders to the front.
  5. Without tilting your head up or down, slowly rotate your head to the right shoulder.
  6. When you reach a point where you naturally stop, push a bit more as if you are trying to touch your shoulder with your chin.
  7. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  8. Slowly rotate your head back to center.
  9. Again, without tilting your head up or down, slowly rotate your head to the left shoulder.
  10. When you reach a point where you naturally stop, push a bit more as if you are trying to touch your shoulder with your chin.
  11. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  12. Repeat Right-Left stretch 3-5 times.
  13. When through, gently rotate your head to center and relax your shoulders, let your arms fall to your sides.
  14. Take a slow deep breath, hold for 3 seconds, then slowly exhale.
  15. Smile.

Nodding Yes: Another good exercise for relaxing the neck

  1. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, knees slightly bent.
  2. Stand comfortably with your head floating up. To do this correctly, locate the center of the top of your head where all the head bones meet.  In babies, this was the area of the Fontanel, in Tai Chi it is referred to as the Bai Hui or Crown Point.
  3. Place both hands on your hips.
  4. Pull the head back as if you were trying to touch your back with the back of the head.
  5. Push the head back gently and hold the stretch for 5 seconds.
  6. Slowly rotate the head back down until your Bai Hui/Crown Point is facing its original start position and pause 2 seconds.
  7. Rotate your head down and try to touch your chin to your chest.
  8. Push the head down a bit until you feel a stretch in the back of your neck.
  9. Hold for 5 seconds.
  10. Gently rotate your head back to the start position and hold for 3 seconds.
  11. Repeat the Nod 5 times in each direction.
  12. When through and your head is in the start position, stand there for 5 seconds and focus on letting tension out of your shoulders.
  13. Inhale slowly for the count of 6, then gently exhale for the count of 6.

Shoulder Shrug

  1. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, knees slightly bent.
  2. Stand comfortably with your head floating up. To do this correctly, locate the center of the top of your head where all the head bones meet.  In babies, this was the area of the Fontanel, in Tai Chi it is referred to as the Bai Hui or Crown Point.
  3. Let your arms hang gently by your sides.
  4. Lift your shoulders up as if you were trying to touch your ears (like a big shrug).
  5. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Let go and drop the shoulders (just let them drop loosely, without tension.
  7. Pause 2 seconds.
  8. Repeat 5 times.

Shoulder Rolls

  1. Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder width, knees slightly bent.
  2. Stand comfortably with your head floating up. To do this correctly, locate the center of the top of your head where all the head bones meet.  In babies, this was the area of the Fontanel, in Tai Chi it is referred to as the Bai Hui or Crown Point.
  3. Let your arms hang gently by your sides.
  4. Pull your shoulders back pushing the shoulder blades towards each other.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Move the shoulders up as if trying to touch your ears.
  7. Hold for 5 seconds.
  8. Push your shoulders forward.
  9. Hold for 5 seconds.
  10. Rotate the shoulder down and push gently.
  11. Hold for 5 seconds.
  12. Repeat steps 3-9 without holding, just rotate as described: back, up, forward, down.
  13. Repeat  step 10  for 7 cycles.

Hip Rotations

  1. Begin with head floating up, feet a bit wider than shoulder width.
  2. Knees should be soft, not bent, not locked.
  3. Place your hands on your hips.
  4. Move your hip to the left and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Move your hip back and hold for 2 seconds.
  6. Move your hip to the right and hold for 2 seconds.
  7. Move your hip forward and hold for 2 seconds.
  8. Now try to rotate your hips as above without holding for 2 seconds.
  9. Rotate left-back-right-forward 10 times.
  10. Reverse: right-forward-left-back 10 times.

Stretch Palms to Feet

  1. Stand with legs close together, head erect.
  2. Place your hands by your naval, right hand over left, palms facing up.
  3. Keeping the hands together, gently rotate them out and up until the palms are now facing the ceiling and the arms are straight.
  4. Push the palms up to stretch the arms and body, at the same time push the feet, with emphasis on the heels, down.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Separate the hands by moving them out wider than the shoulders maintaining the stretch in the arms and continue pressing the palms up.
  7. Hold for another 5 seconds.
  8. Release the tension and gradually rotate the arms out and down to your sides.
  9. Pause for 5 seconds then repeat the cycle 5 times slowly.

About the Author: Alan Bandes has been teaching Chen Style Tai Chi for over 2 decades while studying under Master Ren Guangyi. He teaches in-person, and as an instructor for Chi Force Community where he offers live-streamed classes.

EXPERIENCE WHAT CHI FORCE CAN DO FOR YOUR BODY AND MIND

HEAL, RESTORE, TRANSFORM YOURSELF WITH CHI FORCE TODAY.