Two hands holding a red coffee mug with a latte with a flower-shaped foam

We’re not saying cut the coffee altogether — that would just be cruel — but if you’re like us chances are you tend to latte too liberally. Challenge yourself: instead of starting the day with a bucket of espresso, wake yourself with these morning stretches before you even hit the kitchen kettle.

These simple morning stretches from physical therapist and Darling Magazine contributor, Dr. Cindy K. Dao, will wake up your sleepy muscles, bring some life back to your brain and boost your mood in an au naturale (and highly sustainable) way…

I am definitely not a morning person and it takes me a few moments before I am able to be a fully-functioning human being.

By stretching first thing in the morning, you are improving your brain activity, decreasing body aches and pains, and increasing your energy level throughout the day. Because of these benefits, I created a routine of morning stretches that help improve the mobility of all the main joints in your body. Give it a go and your day will be a whole lot brighter.
6 Morning Stretches to Start Your Day

Head Rolls | Slowly roll your head in a circular motion from shoulder to shoulder 5 times clockwise and 5 times counter clockwise.

Cat-Cow | Slowly alternate your spine from cat position to cow position. Hold each position for 5 seconds before alternating. Repeat this morning stretch 10 times slowly.

Low Back Gap Stretch | Lay on your back and let your legs rotate the opposite way as your chest and your extended arm. Hold this stretch for 1 minute before switching to the other side.

Downward Dog | While on your hands and feet, keep your knees initially bent to lengthen the spine, taking the hips up and away from you. Then if possible straighten the legs, while maintaining the length in the spine. Hold the stretch for 1 minute.

Quadriceps Stretch | Lay on your side and reach behind your back and pull your foot towards your back to get a stretch in the front of your hips and thigh. Hold this stretch for 1 minute and then turn over to the other side to stretch your other leg.

Spinal Mobility Roll | Finish off your morning stretch routine with some spinal rolls.  Start by reaching up towards the ceiling. One spinal segment at a time, slowly bend forward towards your feet. Hang down at your feet for 10 seconds then gradually one spinal segment at a time roll your spine up back to the starting position. Repeat this sequence 5 times.

Still craving a cup of something cozy?
Follow your morning stretches with this healing herbal tonic coffee-replacement.


From our friends


  1. Her downward dog form is all wrong, the lower back should not be round! I appreciate the idea of the post, but incorrect instructions can lead to injuries.

    Dana | 01.17.2018 | Reply
    • I was thinking the same thing, Dana. Same idea with the last exercise as that one is horrible for someone with any lower back issues.

      Tracy | 01.18.2018 | Reply
    • I was just saying the same thing to my husband! All wrong! What the model is doing wouldn’t even help your body. My hands and feet sweat a lot, which makes them slip when I’m in downward dog, so I end up looking like her a lot, and I can tell you it’s a world of difference when I powder up my hands and actually do it properly.

      Eden | 01.18.2018 | Reply
  2. I never stretched in last years before leaving bed – even though I always naturally did before. Then I read that Yogi Bhajan said that it is extremely important to very gently stretch in the morning in bed before getting up. He explained that this way the meridian pathway are opened and the energy can flow freely during the day. So whilst I am not adopting any down or up Dogs – I am stretching/elogating again before getting up. I am not noticing anything tangible but I intuitively feel it is beneficial. THANKS for the reminder! You have always great ideas and pointers and this does not cost anything!

    Danae | 01.22.2018 | Reply

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