After a blissful, full, deep eight hours of sleep we all wake up feeling great, ready for the day, refreshed and renewed-said maybe five out of 100 people. For most of us it’s the kids, dogs, and the pull of workloads piling up or simply the inability to call it a day and drag yourself away from the computer or T.V. leaving us drained and tired.
Reality is, most of us wake up less than refreshed. We rely on things like coffee to keep us awake, and we depend on our heated seats to loosen our stiff backs due to the lack of good, restful sleep we obviously didn’t get the night before.
As a yoga teacher and functional fitness advocate, I am constantly looking at how we move in exercise to compliment how we move off the mat. I want to welcome you to five of my top favorite moves I use as a morning yoga routine to wake up my body each morning when I get less than restful sleep (or on the rare occasion I get a full night sleep).
#1 Fascial Foot Release:
Our feet can make or break our day (literally) and not only are they the bottom of our fascial webbing, but they are the bottom of our core. Wakeup your feet with some fascial rolling; using an acuball, foam roller or other designated body ball (please not sports balls) with varying pressures roll out the bottoms of the feet. Explore all the nooks and crannies of the entire foot, from toes to ball of the foot to arch and heel. Find what is tight and located the areas that often cause pain. Spend a fair amount of time on each foot and if possible take mini breaks throughout the day to roll out those pretty feeties (if that is a word) of yours, your entire body above will thank you.
#2 Happy Legs, Heel Cord Release:
Nothing worse than waking up with a stiff lower body, and add on eight hours of either standing on your feet or sitting immobile in a chair eventually you feel like a stiff piece of clay. Start your day with a heel cord release, one that your arches, calves, lower back and even pelvic floor will thank you for. If you wear high heels this is a must! With your feet at a comfortable distance slowly lower down to a low squatting position (feel free to rest towards a chair), allow your body weight to sit back into the heels and hips as your open your back body and reach forward. Imagine doing this on the roof top of a building, with your heels hanging off the edge and you reaching to the middle of the roof. Feel the release in the foot, ankle and even calf and glute, play with the position of the feet to change and vary the stretch. Remain here for up to one minute releasing into a bent knee forward bend and returning for one to three more rounds, noticing each forward bend the length your cultivated.
#3 Rise and Shine Functional Extension:
Wake up your entire front line of the body from your feet to your fingertips. This is not a back bend but rather an entire front body opening and after six to eight hours of curled up sleep open and liberate your body with this amazing fully opening move.
With soft knees, inhale and allow your pelvis to glide forward allowing the rest of the body to gently extend back in an according like motion (think the upper body follows the lower body). There should be zero back pain and feel free to be generous with bending the knees as the torso warms up. Repeat this up to ten times.
#4 Roll into Openness with Rolling Side Bend:
Wake up your lateral body and set the tone for moving in a different plane of motion aside from everything being in sagittal plane (or forward moving). Our hips lead in this movement and as you free your hips and pelvis you allow much above and below to find freedom as well. Find neutral pelvis and work to keep the pelvic-core strong. Inhale and initiate the movement to the right, by pressing your right hip out allow the body to slide to the left as you bend and extend the top arm alongside the ear. With a strong core feel the body restacking back to center, allowing the head and arm to follow rather than lead. Repeat this five to ten times on each side and if possible go back to your more issued side and revisit this move again for a second time.
#5 Wake up your shoulders and spine with Puppy Dog:
Side sleeper are you? No fear, tackle your shoulders and awaken your entire upper body. Down Dog and mask our true shoulder girdle issues but it’s sister version takes no prisoners. Grab a block and come to table top, turn your palms to face in on the block, pressing down throughout the entire forearm exhale and launch your body up off the floor using your pelvic-core. Bend the knees as much as needed not to round in the spine. Focus deeply on the release in your upper body as you feel your shoulders pull up away from your neck, breathe space between the shoulder blades and remain her for five to ten breaths. Afterwards come down to rest back on the heels and repeat this up to three times.