Refining focus to take your stretch to the highest level and reclaim your body
September 1, 2022
A little harmony is offered here to follow-up YG’s article on Better Body Function:
Effective breathing during stretching is a vital contributor. Smooth, steady breath relaxes the muscles while increasing circulation. All things great.
Follow the simple steps below to bring precision and joy to every stretch and yes, create body dessert!
Once you stretch consistently, like anything, the breath becomes second nature. And this second nature includes our mindful awareness.
Your stretch dessert!
Get in position for your stretch.
- Inhale through the nose as you lengthen your spine; pull in your navel comfortably
- Exhale slowly (like a “sigh”), moving into slight tension. Hold there
- Once in your position, you will feel the stretch display itself in this order:
1) First 0-8 seconds: The feeling of slight tension. Breathe slowly and comfortably deep.
2) After 8-10 seconds, a ‘softening’ of that muscle tissue is physically felt (refining focus is easy with eyes closed). Breathe.
(It is with this softening feeling that impatient folks shift into overdrive. So, avoid any force.)
- Stay in your softened state for 30-60 seconds (beginners 15 seconds)
- Stretches should be repeated 3-4 times
Later, as you become comfortable in stretching practice you can add “sinking breaths.” The whipped cream on your dessert!
What is a sinking breath?
During your stretch, take a full inhale through your nose. You will feel your body lift slightly away from your stretch hold. Exhale delicately feeling the body sink deeper into the stretch. Your exhale should last longer than the inhale. For example, inhale for 4 seconds, and exhale for 7-8 seconds. This technique allows our mind and body to release while healing begins. And, stretching is healing.
A sinking breath can be used in any stretch or yoga posture. When you get to this point, positive feelings take hold. Self-control and contentment, for example.
Perform with form!
- From beginning to end with all static stretches, keep your spine long without rounding (shoulders back and relaxed, neck aligned with the spine, crown of head drawn away from your tailbone). A well-aligned spine is central to a successful stretch. Many hunch or round forward unknowingly. Stay aware and in the moment.
- Always stretch warm muscles. Stretching cold muscles can lead to strain or injury and is never advantageous.
Practice your own recipe for renewed body function, comfortable mobility, and flexibility forever. Be a body reclaimer!
Need any tips? Contact me here.
Gwenn Jones, CPT — Content writer in Wellness-Lifestyle-Fitness, Gwenn is a 25-year ACE-certified personal fitness trainer, yoga studio owner, instructor and fitness consultant. Grateful to be a native Californian where happily home-based.