Is it just us, or are dark winter mornings scientifically harder to wake up to? While there's definitely a case for lower vitamin D levels and later sunrises affecting our sleep-wake cycle and mood, we think it's safe to say that we could all use a little extra help getting out of bed these days.
So we teamed up with Avocado Green Mattress (PSA: The organic, planet-friendly mattress and bedding company has a can't-miss Presidents Day sale going on right now!) to bring you a simple body-warming stretch routine that's meant to be done right in bed—and tapped yoga specialist and stretch therapist Claire Grieve to show us four of her go-to moves. Here's how she wakes up feeling centered, energized, and ready to take on the day (even if it's freezing out there). Try doing one, two, or all four stretches tomorrow morning!
1. Gentle twist
"Twists activate your internal digestion and detoxification systems, helping you warm up your body from the inside out. This pose can help stretch your spine and side body and also stimulate your internal organs, signaling it's time to start the day."
How to: Lie on the bed with your back flat. Pull one knee into your chest. Gently pull it across your body, allowing your knee to drop to the bed on the opposite side. Extend your opposite arm and look in that direction. On every inhale, lengthen your spine. On every exhale, twist to deepen the pose. Continue this breath cycle for at least 10 deep breaths.
2. Hamstring stretch
"Stretching out your hamstrings first thing in the morning can help wake up your legs, hips, and lower back. Performing this stretch from bed can help you warm up your entire lower body before you hit your feet."
How to: Start lying on flat on your back. Lift one leg to the sky. Flex the foot of the leg extended on the floor, press your thigh down, and make sure not to let your hips lift. Press up through the heel, grab onto the big toe of your elevated leg, and draw your leg back. If you can't reach your toes or the back of your calf, a strap is a wonderful tool.
"Moving stretches, like cat-cow, can help you warm your muscles and also help you feel warmer, making it the perfect cold-morning stretch. Not only will this sequence release tension along your spine, but it'll also get your blood pumping."
How to: Come up on all fours. Inhale and lift your chest to the sky and arch your back. Exhale and pull your belly button into your spine and look back toward your feet. Repeat this sequence for at least 5 deep breaths.
4. Puppy dog
"An early morning puppy dog stretch can help awaken your upper spine and neck muscles. The upper body can hold a lot of tension—especially if it's cold outside—which may lead to stress buildup or injury, so warming these muscles first thing can make a world of difference."
How to: Start on all fours. Place your forearms on the ground as if you are going into a child's pose, except leave your tush up in the air, deepening the stretch in your chest.
And if you've got a few extra a.m. minutes to spare, a short meditation or breathwork session can help you start your day right. Check out Avocado Green Mattress' all-new meditation pillow, made with organic vegan materials to keep it comfy and cozy.
Illustrations by Jenny Chang