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True North Fitness Guide: Morning Stretches

11/24/2015 04:51 EST | Updated 11/25/2015 02:59 EST

There are mornings when you hear the piercing wail of your alarm clock and start dreading your day before it even begins.

You lie under the covers feeling all of your muscles tense up, and it becomes extremely tempting to call in sick. But before you reach for your phone, try these stretches — which will take you less than five minutes — to get you through the next few hours.

Who knows, you might even feel good enough to hit the gym after work!

To make this as easy as possible on yourself, leave a yoga mat on the floor the night before, so you can move right from your bed to the mat.

  • Spine Stretch (Reclining Twist)
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    There are different variations of this stretch, but because it's still morning and we want to be gentle with our bodies before our muscles are warmed up, let's start by lying on our backs.

    With arms spread out to each side, keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Now, slowly let your knees fall to one side. Take a few deep breaths and relax into this position. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Side Stretch
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    Sitting up, either on the floor, a chair or on the side of your bed, take a deep breath and reach one arm overhead. Let your body create a nice big arc as you go into a side stretch. Hold for about 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Downward Facing Dog
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    This is one of my personal favourite stretches, because your whole body is active and you feel it from the top of your head right down to your toes.

    Start by standing tall at the foot of your mat. Slowly roll forward and walk your hands forward until your body is in an inverted V position. Spread your fingers while you press your palms into the floor. Shoulders are lengthening down your back and away from your ears. Feel your glutes reach up toward the ceiling as you stretch your hamstrings and reach your heels to the floor. If you have to bend your knees slightly, that's okay. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times.
  • Prone Quadriceps Stretch
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    This stretch can be done standing or lying down, but let's take it easy since it's the morning.

    Lying face down on your mat, gently engage your abdominals while pulling your left heel toward your glutes. Feel your hips opening into the mat as you get a stretch in your left quadriceps. If you aren't flexible enough to reach back with your hand, simply use a belt or a stretch band to help yourself out. Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
  • Chest, Shoulder & Hip Stretch (Cobra)
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    Lying on your stomach, legs about hip distance apart and hands under your shoulders, gently press your torso up while opening your chest toward to the ceiling. Keep your stomach muscles engaged so that you don't put pressure on your lower back. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat three times.


After finishing, take a second to recover, breathe and feel good. Now you're ready to take on the day!