Ready to take your meditation practice to the next level?
Incorporating a few simple stretches before meditating can help you achieve deeper levels of focus, relaxation, and mindfulness.
From relaxing the mind to soothing tired muscles, these seven excellent stretches will help you create a space of peace and stillness within your body and mind that you can take with you into your meditation practice.
So whether you’re an experienced meditator or just starting out on your journey, get ready to discover how stretching can help deepen your meditation and find inner peace.
- Why Stretching Before Meditation Is Important
- 7 Excellent Stretches for Meditation to Prepare Your Body
- Is It Better to Stretch Before or After Meditation?
- How Often Should You Stretch, and What’s The Best Time to Stretch Before Sitting for Meditation?
Why Stretching Before Meditation Is Important
Stretching before any physical activity is essential; the same principle applies to meditation.
Over time, our hips and muscles can become tight from poor posture, sitting or standing for long periods, or from physical activities like running and weight training. This tightness can make sitting in meditation poses for long periods difficult.
This is why stretching before meditating is essential to increase mobility and flexibility in the hips and muscles.
Stretching helps to:
- Increase circulation and warm up the muscles: Meditating without aching or discomfort is much easier when our muscles are relaxed. This improves muscle elasticity, allowing you to meditate in a sitting position without feeling pain or tension.
- Release tension from the body: Sitting for long periods without stretching can cause physical stress on the body, resulting in discomfort and fatigue. Pre-meditation stretches help to release this tension from your body and allow you to meditate in a relaxed state.
- Open up the chest and rib cage: Stretching can help to open up the chest and rib cage, which allows for better breath during meditation. This creates a greater sense of openness and relaxation and allows for deeper meditation, as opposed to a tight chest which can impede the breath and make meditating more difficult.
- Prepare the body physically and mentally for a successful meditation session: Meditation isn’t just a mental exercise; it’s a physical exercise too. Stretching before meditation helps prime both your body and mind for the session, allowing you to move more deeply into the depths of meditation.
7 Excellent Stretches for Meditation to Prepare Your Body
Now that we know the importance of stretching before meditating, let’s look at the seven most excellent stretches for a successful meditation session.
1. Shoulder and Forearm Rotations
Shoulder rotations are an excellent way to prepare your body and mind for meditation. This simple stretch is easy yet highly effective in preparing the body for mindful activity.
To do a shoulder rotation, follow the below steps:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms stretched by your sides.
- Start by rotating your shoulders forward in circles ten times.
- Then, reverse the motion and rotate your shoulders backward for another ten repetitions.
- On each rotation, move slowly, allowing yourself to go as deep into the stretch as feels comfortable without pushing it too much.
As you repeat the shoulder rotations, focus on how these movements feel in each shoulder joint and feel how the tension is released from each muscle as you rotate them forward and backward.
Not only do these rotations relax tight muscles around the neck, shoulders, and upper back — which often hold tension due to sitting at a desk all day — but they also increase blood flow throughout the entire body.
This improved circulation allows oxygen to reach every part of the body, which prepares us mentally and physically for our practice.
2. Seated Spinal Twists
This simple motion of twisting the body helps to stimulate blood flow around the spine, which releases any accumulated tension or stress in the back muscles.
It is an excellent way to increase flexibility and promote relaxation before your meditation session.
To perform seated spinal twists:
- Begin by sitting on a yoga mat or comfortable surface with your legs crossed in front of you.
- Place your hands on your knees, making sure that your spine is straight and tall throughout the stretch.
- On an inhale breath, slowly twist your upper body to one side as far as it comfortably goes.
- Ensure that you keep your gaze facing forward and maintain stillness in your core muscles throughout the movement.
- Twist until you feel a gentle stretching sensation around your spine area, then take three deep breaths here, feeling yourself sink deeper into the stretch with each exhale breath.
- On an inhale breath, untwist back to center, then repeat on the other side of the body, allowing yourself to go as far as it feels comfortable while maintaining stillness and calming breaths throughout this movement.
- Continue alternating sides for several rounds until you feel ready to complete this stretch before moving on to another pre-meditation exercise or beginning your session.
CAUTION: remember always to stay mindful of how far you twist over each side; be conscious not to overstretch or push beyond what feels comfortable for you, as this could cause injury rather than facilitate relaxation in preparation for meditation practice.
3. Sitting Squats
Sitting squats can help release accumulated tension in the body and prepare it for a more relaxed state.
Performing a few rounds of sitting squats is also beneficial for improving flexibility and coordination, which can further facilitate a meditative experience.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do a sitting squat:
- Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointing outwards.
- Take a deep breath and slowly sit back into the squat position, keeping your spine straight and your chest up.
- As you lower yourself down, make sure that your hips stay low and close to the ground while keeping the weight in your heels.
- Once you’re at the lowest point, hold this position while taking several deep breaths.
- Then exhale as you come back up to standing, pushing off through your legs rather than using momentum from your arms or upper body.
When performing sitting squats, it’s important to keep good posture and focus on activating the muscles rather than relying on momentum or jerking motions to move.
Make sure that throughout the movement, you are breathing deeply and engaging all the muscles in your legs – such as glutes, thighs, calves – and torso – including core abdominals.
4. Side Bends
If you want to increase flexibility in the spine and reduce stress and tension along the sides of the body, side bends are a great pre-meditation exercise to incorporate into your practice.
Doing these stretches regularly can also help improve posture, reduce tightness in the neck and shoulders, and even aid digestion.
To perform a side bend, do the following:
- Begin by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Engage your core muscles, tilt your head slightly forward, and bring your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
- Then, slowly reach both arms up toward the ceiling while exhaling deeply.
- As you inhale deeply, lean your torso to one side as far as you comfortably can while keeping your legs straight.
- Hold this position for 3-5 seconds while breathing steadily.
- Then slowly straighten up while exhaling and repeat on the opposite side.
- Remember to keep your hips facing forward throughout the stretch; try not to twist or rotate them as you bend to each side.
- Continue alternating sides until you have completed 5-10 repetitions per side or until you feel comfortably stretched on both sides of your torso.
To further deepen this stretching technique, try gently pressing away from each hand into the other arm or pressing against an immovable object like a wall or floor with both hands as if pushing away from it—be sure not to overdo it!
This can help increase flexibility even further and provide additional stress relief.
5. Low Lunge
Cross-legged meditation poses often require flexibility in the hip flexors, which is why incorporating low lunges into your pre-meditation practice can be beneficial.
This stretching exercise helps to open the hips and stretch out the quads, glutes, hamstrings, groin, and lower back. It is also helpful in increasing flexibility and range of motion in the hip joints.
To begin your low lunge stretch:
- Start by standing with your feet together.
- Then step one foot forward with your toes pointed forward and feet flat on the floor.
- Bend your front knee until it’s over your ankle while keeping your back leg straight with the heel pressing into the ground.
- Make sure you keep your torso upright as you bend into this stretching position.
- Take a few deep breaths here as you feel the stretch in both legs and through your hips.
- Using your hands to support yourself, slowly start leaning towards the front leg while reaching for something overhead or in front of you.
- Feel a deeper stretch in both legs and obliques if you can reach up and over for something overhead.
- Keep breathing deeply throughout this entire process so that oxygen can reach all of those tight muscles that need to be stretched out!
- Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before switching sides.
- Once you have held each side for 30 seconds, take a few more deep breaths before slowly coming back up to standing with both feet flat on the floor.
Standing will ensure that no injuries occur during this stretching session and will also help wake up any sleepy muscles that need attention!
Low lunges are an excellent way to prepare yourself physically and mentally for meditation sessions because they help increase flexibility while also allowing you to get centered in body awareness before sitting or lying down for meditation practice!
More Related Articles
6. Thread the Needle Stretch
Thread the needle is an excellent stretching technique that can be used before a meditation session to help improve posture, flexibility, and relaxation.
This simple exercise helps to unknot tight muscles in the back while also relieving tension in the shoulder and neck area.
The stretch position is similar to a yoga pose and can be done with or without props such as blocks or blankets.
Begin in a Table Top position on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees below your hips.
Keep your spine neutral (not arched or rounded) so that it is parallel to the ground. Take a few deep breaths into this starting pose, allowing yourself to relax into the position.
Move your left arm out at an angle from your body towards the left side of the mat and then lower it back down onto the floor so that it crosses over your right arm so that you are now reaching toward the right side of the mat.
Your left elbow should be resting against your rib cage. Check the alignment by pressing your palms firmly into the ground with fingers spread wide apart.
Keeping arms crossed as described above, gently lean onto them and sink deeper into this twist-like stretch for 8-10 breaths, pressing palms firmly into the ground with fingers spread wide apart.
Pay attention to any tension in your neck or upper back – visualize them melting away as you breathe deeply into these areas.
When finished, release arms back down onto either side of the mat following the same angle as Step 1 and return to Table Top position for another round of 8-10 deep breaths before repeating steps 1-3 on the opposite side (right arm/left knee).
7. Reverse Prayer Pose
The reverse prayer pose is an excellent stretching technique before a meditation session. This pose helps to open the chest, shoulders, and arms while releasing tension and stress from the body.
The reverse prayer pose allows for a greater range of motion in preparation for a deep meditation practice.
To begin, do the following:
- Stand in a mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Take several deep breaths in this position to find your balance and center yourself.
- On an exhale, bring your palms together at the heart center as if you were praying. If this is uncomfortable or challenging, you can slightly separate your hands instead of fully pressing them together.
- Next, slowly lift your elbows up towards the sky as you draw your shoulder blades together on the back of your body.
- As you inhale, lift higher until you feel a gentle stretch across the chest and shoulders. If this stretch is intense, lower the height of your elbows to make it more comfortable.
- You should also rock side-to-side slightly or sway gently side-to-side while maintaining the pose.
- On an exhale, press both hands away from each other without breaking contact between them – arching away from each other like two magnets repelling one another – until you feel a strong stretch throughout both arms and shoulders.
- Hold for five to eight full breaths before releasing the pose by bringing both hands back together at the heart center on an inhale.
Is It Better to Stretch Before or After Meditation?
The answer to this question depends on the individual and what works best for them.
Generally speaking, it’s best to stretch before meditating since stretching helps warm up the body and release any tension from the muscles that may hinder your focus.
However, it can also help to stretch after meditation to cool down and loosen any tight muscles that may have accumulated during your session.
You can also consider meditative stretching- where you make each stretch into a form of meditation.
This can be particularly helpful for those who are new to meditating and may find it challenging to transition from the physical to the mental.
When meditative stretching is combined with a regular meditation practice, it can help deepen your mindfulness and give you an even greater sense of relaxation.
Whether you stretch before or after your meditation session, the important thing is to ensure that you are doing it in a comfortable and beneficial way.
How Often Should You Stretch, and What’s The Best Time to Stretch Before Sitting for Meditation?
For best results, stretching for 5-10 minutes before and after your meditation session is recommended.
This gives you adequate time to warm up your body and loosen any tight muscles before meditating, as well as cool down and releases any tension afterward.
The best times to do a stretching routine are in the morning before breakfast or in the evening an hour or two before bed.
This allows your body to transition into a more relaxed state and be better prepared for meditation.
In addition, you can also do stretching throughout the day to help relieve any built-up tension and stress in your muscles and joints.
You will notice how stretching can significantly enhance your meditation sessions with regular practice.
Stretching can be an incredibly beneficial practice to incorporate into your meditation routine.
Not only does it help to prepare the body for sitting still and focusing the mind, but you can also use it to cool down afterward and deepen your mindfulness.
It is important to remember that every individual is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to stretching before or after meditation – experiment with what works for you and adjust accordingly!