Be the Cat
Be the yogi, but don't just stretch or do yoga once a week.To do so is to miss a golden opportunity.
Do it, every day, do it all the time. Like a cat or a dog, stretch when waking up. Actually, this is the perfect time for a stretch as the body is rested and warm. It comes naturally and feels good. Watch kids when they awaken, they stretch and yawn for quite some time and then they get up. Stretch diagonally, stretch up one side, roll over into child's pose... You can bring up one leg at a time and hug it to stretch your back.
Don't just do it once a day but like a cat, do it whenever you feel the need. Whenever you feel the urge. Let your body guide you.
Just returned from a walk and noticed your quads are a bit tight? No problem just hold onto a wall, a door frame, whatever is stable near by, and whilst standing, bring up your leg so the heel is coming as close to your hip as your body will let you, and then lift it by the ankle with your hand (bring the knee rearwards) to intensify the stretch. Been sitting at the computer for a while? Stand up erect, place one hand on your hip, lift the other overhead and whilst doing this bend your body sideways to the direction of the hand on hip. Feels nice doesn't it? Now reverse your hands and stretch to the other side. (watch that your hips don't rotate they should remain in line with the stretch). Does your neck feel tight after that rush typing job? Look straight ahead, bring up your shoulders and then rotate them forward then around a few times. Now rotate your shoulders up and back. Gradually and gently bend your neck sideways and let the weight of it do the stretching as you take a few deep breaths. At this time feel where you are holding tension in your shoulders and nec and bringing attention to it choose to let it go. This isn't suitable for people with neck injuries and complex conditions …..
Just about to get into that massive typing job? Sit comfortably at your computer and do a few shoulder rotations as described above followed by a few wrist rotations clockwise and then in the opposite direction. Maybe lift your hands up as far as you can holding your fingers by the other hand followed by a bend to one side, not much, then bend to the other side. Gentle does it.
Be inventive, rotate your ankles, hips before and after running and cycling. There are many variations. Do something different every day.
What I'm trying to convey is that we should be listening to our bodies and stretching all the time in as much as we should be repairing our bodies whenever they need it.
Why stretching? In Shiatsu I do specific stretches according to your diagnosis and this is for a multitude of reasons of which one is to relax and prepare you for deeper work on meridian channels and acupoints. It frees stuck Qi, stagnant Qi, opens tissues, channels and enhances good blood and qi circulation.
Basic stretching however, is something that is easy to do and done often has great value for everyone. Blood flows better and you feel better, more alert, with a sharper but more relaxed mind.
A good stretch, at the right time, feels great and it should! If, however you get pain, and I'm not talking about good pain, you should seek treatment. We are talking about really basic stretches and as such pain is an early warning sign.
Is there a time when you shouldn't stretch? Hardly ever but when you are really cold - warm up thoroughly first. And soon after an injury - you should be seeking treatment and advice.
Happy stretching. Share away