6 Moves to Awaken Yourself to the DayBy:
How you start your day can set the tone for how you walk through your life. Taking the time to intentionally wake your body from the depths of slumber will allow the transition to be a smoother, softer experience.
We often think of stretching as a first step to get the body moving, but it’s wise to get the body moving first, and ease into a connection between the mind and body that will serve you all day long. You can begin with this method or move straight into the following series. Start slowly with each of these moves, and as they become more familiar, you can sink into the experience of them in a deeper way.
- Shaking and bouncing the body. This Qigong technique is meant to release any energy blocks as well as tonify the organs and stimulate the lymphatic system. Stand with feet hip width apart, keeping knees soft and arms hanging at your sides. Gently start to bounce your body up and down, keeping your feet on the floor. Let the bounce reverberate throughout your body. Start with 1 - 3 minutes, ending with standing still and taking a few deep breaths.
- Open your heart. Starting your day by opening your heart, both physically and emotionally can create space in so many ways. Standing with feet hip width and pelvis neutral, inhale and lift bent arms in front of you. Exhale and connect with your heart space. Inhale and gently draw your shoulder blades together, feeling the front of your chest and your heart open. Exhale and draw your chest in, feeling space between your shoulder blades. Repeat as many times as you need to feel connection, ending with your hands in front of your heart, offering gratitude to your body.
- Connect with your core. When we move through our day with a strong connection to our center, we are able to do everything with better alignment, physically and mentally. Still standing in a neutral position, draw your belly button to your spine without changing the tilt of your pelvis. Imagine the deepest layer of muscle fibers that wrap around your waist sliding towards each other, offering more support through your center. A fun way to do this is laugh, preferably loudly and uproariously; you will feel those muscles engage.
- Strength and balance. This will begin to connect you with your strength and wake up your balance receptors. With feet hip width or slightly wider, toes turned out just a little, sink your hips back, as if sitting into a chair behind you. Maintaining a strong core, sink as low as you can, keeping your knees behind your toes. Press through your heels to bring yourself back to standing, and then reach your arms up and come onto the balls of your feet. Start slowly, and create a more invigorating movement as you feel able to.
- Stretching the sides. Our side bodies are often forgotten as we move forward through our day. From a neutral standing position, inhale both arms up, then exhale as one arm stays reaching up as the other arm reaches down. Feel the stretch from the top of the lifted arm, all the way down the same side of the body to the earth. The arm that is reaching down should feel that it is reaching toward the center of the earth, grounding the body. Inhale as you extend both arms up, exhale and switch which arm reaches up and which arm reaches down.
- Vision pose. Rather than being at the mercy of how you wake up feeling in the morning, use this exercise to set the tone for how you want to feel as you step into your day.
Kalia Kelmenson founded Maui Mind and Body to support women's health. She is the creator of Core Strength Balance and Mind Body Booty Camp and enjoys moonlighting as the reviews editor at Spirituality & Health. Kalia explores the fascinating intersection of fitness and mind-body health. Find inspiration for your movement practice from research and stories that are emerging from this intriguing field.