Whether you’re hosting a big family meal, traveling to attend one, or are doing something a little different, there’s no getting around it: Holidays can be stressful. Morning stretches, though, can help you begin the day in a relaxed, chill headspace.
Doing gentle movements in the morning can do wonders to ground you and get you into “that mental state that you need to be in to stay cool, calm, and collected throughout the entire day,” Denise Prichard, a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) in Phoenix, tells SELF.
Additionally, by taking a few minutes to move your body, you can loosen up tight areas, improve your posture and alignment, and set yourself up to generally just feel better—both physically and, like we mentioned, mentally. These benefits hold true no matter what your holiday plans look like, Prichard says—whether you’re spending hours on your feet in the kitchen, playing a casual game of football in the yard, or staying stationary on the couch.
With that in mind, Prichard developed the following five-move yoga stretch sequence that you can do to start your holiday off on the right note. Put together, these five stretches target your entire body, from your neck, back, and shoulders down to your hamstrings and calves.
“These are really simple stretches,” Prichard says, explaining the morning stretch routine is accessible for a range of fitness levels, including folks who have never done yoga before. You don’t need any equipment or special level of flexibility to do this sequence—all you need is your bodyweight and maybe a yoga mat.
So if you feel like your holiday plans can use a proactive dose of chill, set aside just a few minutes before it all begins to focus on some grounding, gentle movement with these morning stretches. Happy stretching!
What you need: Just your bodyweight! You may want a yoga mat for comfort.
- Thread the needle
- Puppy pose
- Downward facing dog
- Chest stretch
Do each pose for 5 to 10 breaths. You’ll get benefits from doing the sequence just once, but if you have time, feel free to go through it once or twice more. If you do the sequence once, Prichard recommends holding each pose for 10 breaths.
Demoing the moves below are Shauna Harrison (GIFs 1-2), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; Jessica Rihal (GIF 3), a plus-sized yoga instructor (200-HR) and a strong advocate of fitness/wellness for all bodies; and Caitlyn Seitz (GIF 4-5), a New York–based group fitness instructor and singer-songwriter.