Wake Up + Warm Up
I like to do this quick little “routine” right when I wake up, whether I’m heading to a plane, going on a run or doing chores at home. It feels good to move the spine and wake up from head to toe, and it’s quick enough to do before going to work or working out. (If doing this in a hotel room, I put a towel on the floor).
Stand up against a wall with your feet out a few inches. Start from the head down and roll through the spine all the way forward. Keep the core engaged to protect your back. When you reach your forward fold, really relax your neck and let your head hang heavy. Being sure to keep the core active, begin rolling back up, think one vertebrae at a time (using the wall for feedback). Repeat 3-5 times. Finish in the forward fold position.
Plank: walk your hands out to a plank position with hands under shoulders, fingers spread wide, neck elongated, and eyes on the ground, be sure to avoid locking the elbows. If you have wrist issues, transition down to forearms. Start by holding the plank for 30 seconds, and gradually increase the time as you are able to hold good form.
Lower down to your hands and knees and perform about 5 sequences of cat cow. Instead of letting your belly go and arching your low back, focus on keeping your core engaged and lifting through your chest-extending your upper back. Then to transition, imagine tucking your tail between your legs and letting that ripple up your spine into a rounded back position, still keeping your core engaged.
Turn over onto your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees and feet separated about hip distance, and arms long by your sides. Begin by pressing your low back into the ground, then release into a slight arch, going back and forth about 5 times. From there, begin to roll your pelvis up to a bridge, keeping an eye on your knees, make sure they stay parallel. Check in with your neck and shoulders and make sure to keep them relaxed. Then as you roll back down, imagine creating space between each vertebrae as you lay the spine back down on the ground-like a string of pearls or a bike chain.
Stay laying on your back, open your arms out to a T position and bring your legs up to a table top position. Keep your knees and ankles glued together and sway your knees to the right as you inhale. Use your exhale to engage your core and bring your legs up to center, inhale and send your knees to the left. Continue and sway 4 times each direction. Be sure to keep your upper back, back of the ribcage and shoulders pinned to the floor as you do this, ensuring rotation through the spine and forcing your core to work.
Single Leg Stretch/Criss Cross
Keeping your legs in the table top position, set your hands on your knees and lift your head and chest. Both hands move to one bent knee, while the opposite leg extends out straight, then switch- about 8 times each leg. Keep the legs moving in and out as you transfer your hands behind your head with elbows wide. Start to rotate your upper body towards your bent knee (think Bicycle move) and switch. Instead of curling your elbow to your knee, think of lifting your shoulder to it and keep those elbows wide! Continue 5 times each side.
Double Leg Stretch
Hug both knees into the chest and rock side to side for a quick rest, then bring legs to table top, hands on knees and head and chest lifted. From here, reach both arms over head so your biceps line up by your ears, at the same time extend both legs straight out in front of you. Arms will then circle out to the sides and hands will find the knees again as they pull back into table top/start position. Keep your chest lifted, chin tucked slightly and neck long. Core stays strong throughout the exercise for 8-10 reps.
Double Leg Lower & Lift
Hands go behind your head, elbows wide, chest is still lifted, legs are long, together, and reaching towards the ceiling. Keep your trunk still as you lower and lift the legs together. Keep the movement in a range where you do NOT feel pain or strain in your low back. Keep it productive and the core working. Shoot for 5-8 reps.
Hug the knees and rock side to side again for a quick break before extending the legs flat on the ground and arms reaching overhead in the opposite direction. Begin by lifting the arms, head, chest, then curling your upper body into a seated position, then stretch forward reaching for your toes.. Sitting up tall, start to round the low back and roll back down to the ground with control, one vertebrae at a time. Try to keep the legs still and heavy on the ground and move with focus. Aim to complete 5 really good roll ups.
Down Dog Kicks
Move into a downward dog position, stretching the hamstrings and calves, bending one knee then the other. Then find a straight leg down dog and reach one leg up towards the ceiling. Keep the whole body still as you hinge from the hip to lower the leg down to tap and lift back up. 8 times each leg.
Enjoy a few breaths in downward dog finding a good stretch, then carefully walk your feet up to meet your hands. Root your weight evenly in your heels and balls of the feet. Again, let the head hang heavy and relax your neck. After a few breaths here, keeping the core strong, begin to roll up to standing.
Now you are awake and ready to take on the day!