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3 Basic Yoga Stretches That Will Get You Through The Whole Day

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We've all been there: The moment you wake up and swing your legs over the side of the bed, you feel it. The crick in your neck, the soreness of your back, the stiff hips. You may have accepted morning aches as an unavoidable part of life, but there's a super-effective way to get some relief. It just requires a few minutes of simple stretching.

Fitness expert Brooke Marrone tells the digital series #OWNSHOW that stretching is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the morning, and she recommends three specific stretches to open up the body, get the kinks out and really start your day off right.

Downward Dog

Anyone vaguely familiar with yoga knows about this common stretch, but what you may not realize is how powerful it is for your body. "With this one move, you really target so many different areas of your body," Marrone says. "You stretch out your hamstring, your hip flexors, your low back and your shoulders all at once."

To begin, get on your hands and knees with your body in a tabletop position. (Hands should be a few inches in front of your shoulders.) Then, tuck your toes and pop your hips up to the sky, bringing your body into an inverted-V position.

"Make sure that you keep your belly tucked in and that you relax your shoulders and drop your head down towards the floor," Marrone instructs. "Try to bring your heels as close to the floor as you can."

 Standing Forward Fold

Also known as a "ragdoll stretch," this move opens up the back of your bod and hip flexors while relieving tension in your shoulders and neck, Marrone says.

Start by standing with your feet a few inches apart. Fold forward and slowly bring your body toward the floor. Once folded, relax your head and neck. You can then place your hands at the backs of your ankles for a deeper stretch, or you can grab one elbow with each hand and slowly relax into a "ragdoll" position.

"If you're feeling any pain in your low back or you're not ready for the full forward fold, you can also grab a set of yoga blocks, which you can place in front of your feet to have a little space between your hands and the floor," Marrone adds.

 Kneeling Hip Flexor

If you work an office job or drive for a living, this stretch is especially important for you. "The kneeling hip flexor stretch is actually one of the best ways to counteract all the sitting that we do all day, at our desks or in a car, which actually shortens our hip flexors," Marrone says. "So, this stretch is a great way to kind of get the blood flow moving and really open up the front of your body."

To do this stretch, start on your knees and place one foot in front of your body, going into a lunge position. (If you have knee pain, place a towel or a pillow under your knee for extra support.) Push your pelvis forward, without shifting your body weight or leaning forward. Keep your core engaged, your shoulders back and your head looking straight ahead.

"To intensify the stretch, reach the arm opposite to the front leg up to the sky and push your pelvis a little farther forward," Marrone says. "Hold that stretch for about 30 seconds, then you can relax before you go into it again."

Are your aches lower on your body, building up in your feet? Try this do-it-anywhere foot stretch to relieve heel pain.

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