In exercise as in so many things, the Victorians and I are of a similar mindset. They felt a daily calisthenics session and general movement to be conducive to good physical health, and I quite agree – excessive vigour in the form of a daily gym work out is not my thing. Instead, I like to stay fit by walking the dog and performing a series of restorative stretches inspired by yoga poses every morning, chucking the odd run or class in here and there.
My morning stretching routine has come to be a hugely important part of my day – wherever I am and whatever time I get up, I always make time for it. The below poses always feature, but I’ll usually add some others to target whichever muscles feel tight that morning. I’ve learned at my peril that skipping them is not an option now that my body is used to unfurling in such a leisurely manner – when I’ve not made time my muscles ache to be extended and my temper is considerably less even.
A word on the outfit I’m wearing in these posts: part of Asquith’s S/S16 Wanderlust collection, they subscribe to Marie Kondo’s golden rule* of dressing in clothes that are comfy but also feel like a treat rather than in ropey old t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms when at home. Made from breathable American fleece, the brand adheres to the good stuff: joy of wear, eco-friendly fabrics, and responsible manufacturing. Find the tracksuit bottoms here and the top here.
Onto the poses… //
CHILD’S POSE / I’m a bit creaky when I get up, so I usually start (and sometimes finish) on this one. It’s ideal to stretch the lower back, thighs and hips while relaxing the spine, shoulders and central nervous system.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG / Inelegant though it looks, were I to keep just one of these poses in my routine, this would be it. It stretches my legs out, makes me feel all ready for the day and sends lots of blood around my body in double time. I also try to do a couple of these before lunch.
PLANK POSE / I’m completely and utterly hopeless at this pose, which is exactly why I include it into my daily routine so as to improve. Designed to strengthen the core muscles, being able to slide slowly into low plank is a sign of being in fine fettle in the yogic world.
FORWARD BEND / There are tonnes of variations on this pose, but effectively it involves drooping towards the ground from the hip. Looks easy, doesn’t it? It’s bloody not – releasing the shoulders and head requires active relaxation aka a fair bit of discomfort followed by euphoria. It is a really good one if you sit at a desk all day.
TREE POSE / Another great core-strengthener, the key to holding this pose without falling is to bear in mine that just as a tree sways around, your body is never quite still. I’ll often wobble more on one side than the other but am told that’s perfectly normal.
THE WARRIOR / This pose makes me feel ready to take on life. Physically, it had an enormous effect when held – it builds strength, stretches the arms and legs and stimulates the organs. If I have time after this, I’ll finish on the Child’s Pose, otherwise off I trot all relaxed of muscle and calm of mind.
* I promise to stop whittling on about Kondo soon, it’s just I so crave the order she promises her rules will bring about…