Image: Brianna Johnson
When the days grow darker earlier it’s easy to want to come home from work, snuggle underneath your duvet, and sleep (thanks, daylight savings time). Somehow it seems that when the sun sets one hour earlier and the clock shifts, so does our attitude towards productivity. To stay motivated, we’re banking on these exercises and stretches to boost both mood and energy. They’re shared with us by Brianna Johnson, a Pilates instructor at Waldorf Astoria Chicago—and while our workout skills aren’t quite at her level (see picture!), we may just get there by the time we’re supposed to set the clocks again.
Brianna’s tips, in her words:
- My first “go to” in waking up my body is spinal movement. Exercises such as cat/camel: coming into all fours and curling your spine up to the ceiling (tucking tailbone under and relaxing the neck completely), then melting the chest down, lifting the tailbone up, and drawing your shoulders down the back.
- Another great way to boost your energy is to sit on an exercise ball with hands on hips and bounce, starting with a small gentle bounce and then have it become more active; continue for 1 to 3 minutes. This warms up the spine and gets the spinal fluid moving through your body, leaving you invigorated and ready to move.
- In Pilates, one of the first exercises you always do is the Hundred. This is a syncopated ab and breathing exercise. You lie on your back, legs bent in 90 degrees or extended out straight. Curl your neck and head off the floor, gazing towards your belly button, and extend your hands off the floor reaching through your arms. You pump your arms vigorously up and down while inhaling through the nose for a count of 5 and out the mouth for a count of 5, 10 times. This wakes up the proprioceptive system in your body, which gets the muscle system and the nervous system to start working together. This exercise warms up the abdominals and gets you to focus on mind-and-body connection.
- Finally, chest stretches through a doorway are great openers for the shoulders and the heart. These help you relax and take a minute to stretch the front of the body out of the hunched position so many of us slip into.