Morning yoga stretches? They’re a good-feeling alternative (or addition!) to that first cup of joe, and you don’t need mush space to get ’em done. (Picture this: you roll out of bed and do them right on your floor or rug.) If you’ve never tried morning stretches before, no worries. We’ve rounded up the best morning yoga stretches, all according to experts, so you’re totally covered. And if you’re already stretching on the reg? Stay for the inspo. You could always use some new morning moves!
To start, let’s discuss exactly *why* stretching first thing can be so great for your bod. “Starting your day with a good stretch is a powerful choice for both your mind and body,” explains Eve Lynn Chrust, CPT, RYT, a yoga instructor at Obe Fitness. “Softening some of the kinks from sleep and getting the blood flowing allows you to start your day feeling open both physically and energetically.” You’re not only taking a moment to breathe purposefully and set an intention for your day, but you’re actually oxygenating your muscles, too, which is a major game-changer, Chrust adds.
“There is a synergy to morning movement and yoga flow for me. It’s soft on the body, makes space from the inside out, and just feels kind on crinkly muscles after a night’s sleep,” she explains. Looking to get all those ~warm and fuzzy~ feels when you wake up, too? Great. Keep reading for the seven best morning stretches to do each a.m. Your sore bod will thank you!
Good for:spine, shoulders, hips
How to:Start on all fours with wrists directly under shoulders and knees below hips. For cat, first exhale while rounding back and dropping head and tailbone toward mat. Then on the inhale, arch back, and tilt tailbone and chin toward ceiling to come into cow pose. Chrust recommends doing this stretch five times in each direction.
Good for:shoulders, chest, arms, upper back, and neck
How to: Start on all fours. Lift right hand off mat and slide it behind left forearm, bringing right arm and shoulder to rest on the floor behind left palm (hips stay high) and placing right ear on mat. “Think about wringing yourself out,” Chrust says. “Spinal twists are super detoxifying and opening up after a twist feels so good.” Hold for 3 deep breaths each side, Chrust says, or continue this move until you feel ~loose~ and comfortable.
Good for:hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders
How to: Start on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips into air, extending legs to straight and shifting weight back into feet so body forms an upside down “V” shape. “Spend some time here,” Chrust recommends. “Allow your body to acclimate. Think five deep breaths.” Noted!
Good for:heart, blood flow, back
How to:Start standing with feet hip-distance apart and hands interlaced behind back, arms straight. Lift fists up away from body, gaze toward ceiling, and spread collarbones wide, then hinge at hips to fold torso over legs and stretch arms overhead. Relax head down and shift weight towards balls of feet. “When we invert ourselves we give our heart a break and get fresh blood to the places that need it [like our brain],” Chrust says. For this stretch? Stay folded for five slow breaths, she suggests.
Good for:hips, hamstrings
How to:Start in a downward dog position. Lift left foot off mat and up toward ceiling while keeping shoulders square and bodyweight even between both palms and right foot. “We hold our emotions in our hips, so softening that space is super important to start the day with a fresh perspective,” Chrust says. Hold this one for three deep breaths on each side, she recommends.
Good for:hips, back
How to: Start in a kneeling position, with shins flat on the ground, butt on heels, knees slightly wider than torso, and hands in lap. Walk arms forward to straight on floor, lower stomach down on to thighs, and rest forehead on floor. For this one, Chrust says that the timing and number of breaths is totally up to you. Enjoy it!
Good for:hips, knees, legs
How to: Start standing, then fold forward and place hands on floor in front of feet. Step left foot backward until leg is straight, toes are tucked, and heel is high, while bending right knee to 90 degrees and coming up to balance on fingertips. Lower back knee and shin on to mat and untuck left toes. You can hold this pose for three deep breaths each side, Chrust says.