Add some stretching and breath work to your healthcare routine
I am someone who has been an athlete all my life. I started out with being a young dancer when I was a kid. As I grew older, I started to become a fan of sports. I played basketball, soccer, rugby, wrestling, aquatic sports, lifting weights in the gym, and plenty more.
Although I had partaken in all these sports, one main important theme of being an athlete was never my strong suit. That was stretching. As I have grown older and taken time to reflect and focus on some main practices, I have become a great fan of endurance training, lifting weights, and yoga. For the past couple of years now I have been going to a gym known as Oxygen Yoga and Fitness. They have motivated me to bring stretching into my weekly practice sessions and as part of a personal routine.
Over the past four months, I challenged myself to take a deep stretch and relaxation class once a week or run through a stretching practice at home once a week. Over these past couple of months, my body has adapted, changed, and felt different and quite honestly changed my mind about stretching. That is what I would like to share with you. Some personal feelings, and thoughts, about how I started to enjoy, relax, and look forward to my stretching practice.
Before I started to partake in a regular stretching routine my legs, hips, and lower back were quite tight, quite often. Now that I have started to stretch on a regular basis, I have noticed a great deal of difference in those areas of my body, which have been the focus of my stretching routine. Whether I stretch at home or at the gym, my practice normally consists of the same routine. This routine consists of grabbing some props, typically a stretching strap, a light ball, and a block. At home I might also grab a pillow and a massage gun. With all of my supplies gathered I tend to dim lights and use a candle to set the mood.
Once I am all set up my practices always look different. However, over the last four months of stretching, I have spent a great deal of time experimenting and trying out different stretching positions and I have a few favourites on my list. I would have to say my top five stretches are the Pigeon, Frog, Folded Forward Deer, Happy Baby, and Eye of the Needle. Each pose has helped me focus on dialling in and focusing on certain parts of the body, my breathing, and how to support my body in that moment.
As I stretch there are a few key things that I try to focus on to allow my body to feel the sensation. I tend to let my body take a light sway back and forth whether that be of my head and neck, or my upper body, I take deep breaths for five to six seconds, or I apply light pressure on certain parts of my body to help dial in. As I move from pose to pose, I ensure that I move nice and slow to ensure that I am not hurting myself or making any sudden body movements. I am no expert in physical activity, but one key point I have learned from Oxygen Yoga and Fitness is to take your time getting in and out of postures. Sometimes getting out is just as intense as holding the pose.
Now that I have spent some time adapting to incorporate stretching into a routine, reflected on the feelings and the changes it has done for my body, I hope this motivates you to add something to your weekly routine whether it be fitness related or not. I think each of us could spend time focusing on ourselves individually just to make our weeks run a little smoother.