I was feeling awful yesterday. My stomach hurt, my back hurt, and I was exhausted.
This morning when I woke up I felt an urge to shed that stiffness and release that feeling, so I got up early and did a chinese longevity exercise, standing naked in the bedroom.
This is actually a set of 6 exercises that we used to do before the chi gung warm up at Tai Chi, back when I studied it under Gabriel Chin. It starts with gently bouncing 144 times. I put my hands under my belly for a little support and felt the baby wake up as I did this part. Then you roll the arms and shoulders forward 6 or 8 times, alternating left and right, then rotate them back, letting the arms swing freely. A slightly crouched position with legs apart and alternating arm swing and extension to the sides follows that, not unlike "hands in the clouds," though this is just an extension, not a chop, that you do ten times with each hand. That's followed by a balance exercise, where you stand with feet together, crouch with hands pulled in to center, and, in one movement, stand up and go up to your toes and spread your arms in a sort of swimming motion, then pull them in in front of the chest and crouch again. Repeat that 3 or 5 times, then reverse the motion of the arms for another 3 or 5 times. Then you stand, feet even, step to one side in a comfortable stance, and move both arms and hands in a level horizontal circle in front of you, sending them away from the body and then drawing them around and back to the chest, almost like casting a net, but smoothly. This is repeated 5 times to each side, circling from front to back, then again stepping 45 degrees from front instead of to the side, circling from back to front. Finally, there is a many jointed flexing and turning exercise, where you put the hands together at one side, raise them diagonally to above the opposite shoulder, and inscribe 3 circles in the air descending in front of you, then back up, turning the torso slightly side to side and following the hands with the rest of the body in a way that's hard to describe.
There is of course breathing that goes with all of those motions, and I've not described them well, but perhaps you get the idea.
I have done this exercise now from time to time for about 20 years. It never fails to make me feel grounded, relaxed, focused, flexible and of course warm. I think today will be a better day.