Ask the Health Coach: How Should I Stretch in the Morning?

Maura shares a simple, yoga-based stretching routine to do each morning for a natural jolt. Buh-bye, coffee!

Dear Maura,

What’s the best stretch to do when you first wake up to get loose and ready to move through the day? Can you recommend a quick yoga/stretching routine to do in the AM?

Thanks for your help!

~ Sara S.


Hi Sara,

Thanks for writing in with your question. Many of us feel lethargic and stiff in the morning, so incorporating some stretching is a great idea. Not only will it wake you up naturally (who needs coffee?), it will also get those digestive juices flowing and kick start your metabolism. This quick routine will only take five minutes, and you can start it right in bed. Who could ask for anything more, right? Here are 10 stretches to get you going in the am.

1. Lying on your back in bed, squeeze your knees into your chest. Then squeeze your chin into your chest and lift your shoulders off your mattress. Squeeze yourself into a tight ball and engage abdominal muscles for three deep breaths. Release

2. Stretch your arms out nice and wide, palms facing upwards, keeping your wrists in line with your shoulders. Drop both knees to your right and turn your head to the left for a simple spinal twist. Breathe deeply and slowly through the nose for five breaths. Switch sides.

3. Time to get out of bed! Stand up nice and tall with your feet hip-width distance apart. Reach your arms overhead and interlace your fingers together, but extend the pointer fingers. Take a big breath in through your nose and on your exhale sway over to the right. Hold this side stretch for five breaths, pressing down through the left foot and creating lots of length on the left side of the body. Inhale and bring yourself back to center. Switch sides for five more breaths. Repeat both sides.

4. Return to a neutral standing position and fold forward to touch your toes. Don’t worry if you can’t touch—simply bend your knees as much as necessary until your fingertips find the ground. Release the head down and bring the weight slightly forward into the balls of your feet, so you feel a good stretch in the hamstrings. Stay here for 10 breaths.

5. Plant your hands into the ground and step back into a pushup position, with shoulders directly over the wrists. Imagine dragging your feet and hands towards each other so you feel the low abdominal muscles engage. (This pose can be done with knees on the ground for a little more support). Hold for five breaths.

6. From pushup position, lift your hips to the sky for downward facing dog. Press down through your hands and your feet as you stretch your chest towards your thigh. Bend the right knee and stretch the left heel to the ground for three breaths. Switch sides.

7. From downdog, bring your knees to the ground and stretch your hips back over your heels for child’s pose. Stretch your arms out in front of you and if you can, place your head on the ground. Stay here for five breaths. Return to downdog.

8. From downdog, walk your hands back to meet your feet and roll up to stand, returning to neutral standing position. Do 30 jumping jacks. Yup, good ol’ fashioned jumping jacks.

9. Repeat #3.

10. Stand still. Close your eyes. Take a big breath in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Do that two more times. Remind yourself how awesome you are and that you are about to have an awesome day. (I’m serious, just do it!) Then smile because you’re all finished.

Have an awesome week,

>> If you have a question for Maura,  email it or tweet it at us; your question could be answered in a future column. Find more of Maura’s advice here.


Maura Manzo is a yoga teacher and health coach specializing in integrating diet, health and wellness. She supports others in becoming their best possible selves. Maura is available for private instruction and coaching, as well as on-site corporate classes and speaking engagements. She is co-creator of the Beyond Asana 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training and the Art of Letting Go: Maya Tulum Mexican Yoga Vacation. Learn more about her teaching schedule, coaching practice and yoga trainings at