I’m a big believer in listening to your body. If your body is telling you it wants to move around, you do it! So below I'm sharing my six favorite morning movements (also called "resets") to help you rise and shine better than ever, inspired by Original Strength: Breathing, egg rolls, neck nods, low rockbacks, low lunges and cross crawls. A note here: These are just some examples of how to move your body around. There are countless other variations on the below movements but these can get you started.
Just as early morning meditation can help set your intentions for the rest of the day and start you off in a nice de-stressed state, so can five minutes of moving your body. You’ll be waking up your vestibular, visual and parasympathetic nervous systems, which is a fancy way of saying your sense of balance, coordination and well-being will LIGHT UP first thing in the morning!
Ready? Let's get to it!
We do it every day. But are we getting the most out of it? A lot of us breathe with the accessory muscles in our necks and chest, rather than taking full diaphragmatic breaths. This can cause musculoskeletal "tightness" up and down our bodies, putting us in a chronic state of fight or flight.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into a comfortable position on your back or stomach. Feet can be on the floor with knees bent or extended or you can hold your knees to your chest. Your arms can be at your sides, on your stomach, or overhead. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose (helping your breath get deeper into your body than when you breathe through your mouth). Breathe in nicely and slowly and exhale nicely and slowly. You can even try counting to five on your inhale and five on your exhale. Do this for a good minute or two.
We live in a very linear world where we only move forward and backward. But the body needs rotation in its life! So let's give it what it needs and roll like an egg on a counter!
HOW TO DO THEM: Hold on to your knees. To roll onto one side, look with your eyes first. When your eyes go first your head will follow and then your body will follow! Make sure you breathe the whole time you roll, even during parts where you might feel "stuck".
The cool thing about looking with your eyes first is that it helps your brain take in a lot of information as you work through the movement. This can ultimately help with spatial relation and balance. It also allows your neck to chill out and not do so much work. AND, the cool thing about rolling around on the floor (or bed or yoga mat) is that your body's nerve endings get a LOT of stimulation which ALSO feeds your brain and wakes you up. Start with 10 egg rolls or so to get going (you can always do more if you want!).
Where the head goes, the body follows. And since our heads are typically buried in a computer or phone or tablet, think about what that's doing to our spines! Have you noticed that some people whose heads jut out in a forward posture tend to have scooped-under pelvises (almost as if their pelvis is trying to catch their head)? Think about how that must feel up and down the body!
Posture is a reflex and if you can't control your head, no amount of "core work" will get you standing tall. So by doing neck nods, we can regain some head control and help improve our posture! (This is a great write-up of why neck nods are so darn good; I highly recommend it, it goes into a lot of detail!)
HOW TO DO THEM: Roll onto your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms; if you feel any pinchiness in your lower back, move your arms forward slightly. Keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, look up toward the ceiling. Let your head follow. Now, look down your shirt and let your head follow. It doesn’t matter right now where you breathe in and out as long as you actually DO breathe in and out. Don’t go into a range of motion that triggers pain or dizziness, either. Find YOUR range of motion.
If you think that movement feels pretty good, wait until you do the next step: Look behind you (I like to say, "Look between your feet with your eyes," and then let your head and spine follow). Do take it slowly so you don’t get dizzy, and don’t forget to breathe.
A note on dizziness: If you get dizzy often or ever suffer from vertigo, work on moving just your eyes. You'll still be giving your vestibular system a workout. And if your dizziness/vertigo persists, see a doctor. Do 10-20 neck nods up-and-down and side-to-side.
As babies, we rocked as a precursor to crawling, which helped us develop our gait pattern (the way we walk)! Rocking also helped our spines develop their S curve! Rocking is, essentially, the coolest.
HOW WE DO THIS: Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and elbows under your shoulders. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth and your eyes on the horizon. Then, rock forwards and backwards as you breathe in and out through your nose! If this position feels uncomfortable, do some rockbacks on your hands (check out this handy tutorial). Do 10-20 low rockbacks.
I really just like this one because it feels super-duper great. :) It also helps separate your legs from each other and encourages some of that awesome mid-spine rotation we rarely get.
HOW TO DO IT: Place one leg in front of you, knee bent with your heel under your knee. Lengthen the other leg behind you, letting your hips relax down toward the floor. Now, place your hands on the floor to the inside of your front leg. (Whew, that was a mouthfull!) Reach your inside arm down and away from your body and feel the stretch between your shoulder blades. Let your eyes follow your hand. Then, reach that same hand up toward the ceiling, letting your eyes follow once more. Remember to breathe through this! Do 5-10 on each side.
Now you're probably ready to stand :) So go ahead and get tall and let's tie the two sides of your body and brain together before you get on with the rest of your morning!
Here's the deal with cross crawls: By touching one side of your body to the other, you are letting the right and left sides of your brain communicate. This does WONDERS for balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.
And since this maneuver lights up your neurological system, it can be a great pick-me-up during those mid-afternoon slumps at work!
HOW TO DO THEM: Stand tall and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathing in and out through your nose. Bring your hand, forearm, or elbow and your opposite knee together; make physical contact. Then do it on the other side! The idea here is that one side of your body is crossing your midline to touch the other side of your body so you can even touch your hand to your opposite shin or foot! Play with tempo here, too! Can you do this slowly AND quickly? Do 15-20 on each side.
I'd LOVE to hear your feedback so if you're trying these out, leave me a comment below!