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Stretches to wake up your digestive system

Guest edited by Emily Cohen

A qualified Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor and Nutritional Health Consultant, Emily works to promote balance across a range of disciplines and training methods. Her aim is to show her clients how gradual lifestyle changes can produce life-changing results. 

Read on to follow her simple, easy morning routine of mindful breathing followed by a few stretches to get you energised and ready to face the day ahead. 

Kick-start your metabolism and digestive system

First things first, hydrate before you caffeinate... Enjoy a glass of water with a big squeeze of lemon first thing every morning. For those tempted to try something a little more savage, add a pinch of cayenne pepper - the hint of spice works wonders for your metabolic rate!

Step 1: breathing

Sit cross-legged with a straight spine. Place your hands on your knees and close your eyes. Take 10 breaths, inhaling to the count of 4 and exhaling to the count of 4. Breathe deep into your belly, making sure the inhale and exhale are even. With a little practice, begin to hold a 4 count breath in-between your inhale and exhale.

Step 2: cat & cow stretches 

On all fours, find length and mobility through your spine whilst awakening your shoulders and chest. Repeat 3 times. 

Step 3: twist 

In a seated position extend your right leg and bend your left leg with the sole of your foot to the mat. Place your left arm on the mat close to your bum to support your body with a straight back. Inhale and raise your right arm. Exhale and twist to the left leading with your chin to look over your left shoulder and bringing your right arm to rest on the outside of your left leg.  Hold for 3 breaths.  With each inhale, lift to find space and with each exhale, move slowly deeper into the twist. With a final inhale, raise your arm and release the twist.  Repeat on the opposite side. 

Step 4: seated forward fold

This stretch not only benefits the digestive system, but also stimulates the entire abdominal and pelvic area. Remaining in a seated position, inhale and lift both your arms above your head. Exhale and fold forward, working to get your nose towards your knees. Hold for 3 breaths. Inhale and unfold, stretching both arms above your head. Exhale to release both arms back down by your side. Repeat 3 times. 

Step 5: banana stretch 

Standing straight and tall, place your right hand around your left wrist, cross your feet, right foot in front of the left and lean towards the right. Breathe as deep as you can for 5 breaths. Repeat on the left side to finish. 

- Emily Cohen, Yoga Trainer & Nutritional Health Consultant @emilycohenhealth