The One Exercise to Do While Your Coffee Brews

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Erin Wengrovius)

Good morning, good morning, it’s great to stay up late! Until the alarm goes off and tears you from your much-needed slumber.

You know the drill. Shuffle to the coffeemaker and punch the button to deliver that life-giving elixir. While you wait, check out the Facebook posts you missed overnight. Coffee’s brewing and the smell alone is perking up your drowsy brain cells, but you’re still scrolling mindlessly. Now over to Twitter for the latest bursts from your motley assortment of friends, celebrities, and news sources. Is the pot done yet? You check Instagram, just long enough to spark envy over someone’s dinner last night, and finally! You can pour your cup of coffee already.

Here’s another thought. How about making use of those few minutes to get your blood flowing, loosen up your sleep-stiffened limbs, and clear the cobwebs from your mind before you start pummeling it with social media?

What to Do While Your Coffee Brews: Sun Salutation

Stick with us — you don’t have to be a yogi to enjoy this morning ritual, and you don’t need a closet full of lululemon to reap the benefits. We talked with physical therapist Erika Mundinger, who shared a novice-friendly version of this centuries-old practice that anyone can do.

But, First: What Is a Sun Salutation?

Here’s a quick primer: A sun salutation is exactly like it sounds. “The whole idea is to greet the sun and warm up your body,” Erika says. But it’s more than just a series of poses. “You’re meditating too. Metaphorically we’re saying good morning to our bodies a little bit.”

Sounds like a reasonable thing to do before we start pouring caffeine into our system, right? Oh, and if you know which way’s which in your kitchen, Erika adds that true yogis face east.

How to Do a Sun Salutation

Erika’s beginner-friendly set of moves is a scaled-down version of Sun Salutation A. (There’s an A and a B.) “A is a little more gentle because there’s less strength posing,” she explains.

Follow the steps below, holding each position for two to three seconds.

  1. Start by standing with your feet together and hands straight up.
  2. Look up at your hands, expand your neck and arch your upper back a little.
  3. Fold yourself forward with your arms out to your sides, bending at the waist and bringing your hands down to touch whatever you can reach, whether that’s the floor (go you!), your toes, or your shins to get that nice stretch of the hamstrings. Try to keep your legs straight with a soft knee but if you have to bend your knees, no worries.
  4. Round out your back to open up the vertebrae and stretch the muscles of your middle back. Bending over first thing in the morning may not sound like the best idea but it gets blood flowing to your brain to fire it up and help you wake up, Erika explains.
  5. Now stand back up, sweeping your hands overhead, and repeat.

The traditional Sun Salutation goes through three sets, but this downsized version takes less time, so Erika suggests repeating it for a total of five reps all the way through. By the time you finish, your mind should be calm yet alert, and your body should feel a little looser. And your coffee should be ready.

Ever stop to think about how much time in the kitchen is wasted waiting? Waiting for coffee to brew, water to boil, the oven to preheat, or people to get to the dinner table all adds up. Meanwhile many of us don’t have enough time to work out. Eureka! Why not slip a few key mini-workouts into those lulls? We talked with experts for recommendations on some real-world exercises you can do in the smallest of kitchens with no special equipment needed.