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  • Writer's pictureAndi

S--T--R--E--T--C--H





There are 3 parts of us that need stretching. Our bodies, our minds, and our emotions. Stretching not only calms anxiety, but it aids in digestion and can help to alleviate headaches. It’s a privilege and a commitment for me to do yoga several times a week. I have made it a priority, and now I crave it.


Body:

More than any other exercises, I love to s-t-r-e-t-c-h my body. Every day most of us wake up and yawn while naturally stretching our arms upward and outward. I just found out that this is called “pandiculation” and it’s something common to all animals. Besides stretching to get out of bed, stretching is something that should be done as much as possible and the good news it can be built into our daily routines without taking added time. My daily routine is to head to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee. I used to stand there waiting for the coffee to complete the brewing cycle. I now use my kitchen as a stretch zone in those 2 minutes while my coffee is brewing. [See below for easy yet effective stretches]. I also steal moments on and off throughout the day to stretch at work against my desk or while sitting in my chair. I probably stretch for about 20 minutes during the day. I am even stretching my back, neck, and shoulders while typing this blog. I take a breath in my mouth and puff out my cheeks as much as possible which alleviates tension in my jaw. We can go through our bodies part by part and figure out a way to stretch. My only piece of advice from my days doing and coaching competitive gymnastics is to engage your stomach when you do any stretching to support your back.


Mind:

Mental stretching exercises our minds. Many of us do Wordle each day which causes us to think and strategize. Canasta, Kalookie (London obsession), Rummykub and puzzles all have the same addictive effect. Have you noticed how the day drags when we are bored or even passively watching TV? Yet the day flies when we are doing something that is stretching our minds and especially when we are passionate about what we are doing. Sometimes at work I am stretching my mind to learn a new platform which I equate to putting myself in an advanced class of spin or aerobics. It’s out of my comfort zone and I do tend to struggle as I am not passionate about learning this information.


Emotional:

This brings me to emotional stretching which is the hardest one to accomplish. Having tools to allow ourselves to stretch emotionally with the ability to not panic when we are outside our comfort zone is the key to living peacefully. Growing emotionally is doing something that is different from our norm and questioning what we have done before. Growing emotionally is taking that Do Over.


I mentioned in a previous blog that FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. When we get past the first scare of trying something new or keeping an open mind when something feels difficult this causes a shift in us to grow emotionally.


For Parents: Young children are naturally inclined to do physical activities that build and stretch their bodies. In yoga there are stretches called “Happy Baby”, “Child’s pose”, and “Baby pose” as these are natural positions for young toddlers and babies. Unfortunately, as children get older and start school most of their days are sleeping or sitting at a desk. It’s no wonder children experience headaches and belly aches. Encourage your children to steal moments to stretch while brushing their teeth, while waiting for breakfast or the school bus or even at their desks (quietly). Talk to them about anxiety and taking time to stretch as a part of their routines. Let them see you stretching while standing on a line. And together come up with ways they can stretch in various situations.


As we age, as adults it’s ever more important to STRETCH to maintain pain free mobility. Below are stretching suggestions but if you are already stiff, the good news is that a Do Over is always an option and many times its first based on setting our mindset. I am here to help you start today.


Stretching Toolbox:

Stretches to do in kitchen, standing on a line, or anytime you think about it:

  • Go onto tippy toes and stretch out your feet

  • Scrunch shoulders to ears breathe in, hold 3 seconds and release w exhale repeat

  • Circle head slowly

If counter/desk available:

  • Stand back 1-2 feet, lean against counter keep heels on floor for back of calves stretch

  • Hold counter lift chin to ceiling and gently push jaw lower forward

  • Lift one foot behind you to touch heel to buttocks hold foot and gently pull in closer stretching front quadricep muscle.

  • With counter to one side or holding back of a chair, step one leg forward onto bent knee, back leg straight push pelvis forward. Stretch should be felt in groin of back leg.

  • If chair has handles, cross right hand to left handle and hold. Lift left hand up to ceiling and stretch over to the right. Stretch will be felt on your left side through your rib cage. I do this at least 20x a day.


More stretches:



~Andi






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