“I pledge to stretch my body everyday.” From a morning yawn stretch in bed, to a yoga class, to a midnight headstand, whatever form it takes, I pledge to stretch out my body for the month of June.
There are many scientific and biological reasons to stretch your body. Increasing flexibility and range of motion, improving muscle tone and muscle control, and reducing injury are a few. But science aside, we all know from experience that stretching simply feels good. It’s something that occurs instinctively after waking up or sitting for long periods of time in confined spaces. But when you’re schedule starts to fill up and you’re week is busy, stretching doesn’t usually make it to the top of the list. This month I decided to set aside my “monthly pledge” time to stretching, and I encourage you to do the same. A few years ago, one of my yoga instructors said something to the class during our seated spinal twist, and I was reminded of it this month. As we were sitting on our mats and stretching our bodies into positions that didn’t always seem possible she got us to close our eyes and imagine that we were a body of water (which we basically are!). But then she got us to imagine all the tiny little nooks and crannies in our bodies that water can reach, and maybe places that this water could get trapped or pool up in over time. She used the metaphor of a stagnant pond collecting bacteria and disease, and a flowing river being clear and clean. With stretching and moving you open the nooks and crannies of your body and stop the ponds from collecting, letting your blood flow evenly through your whole body and decreasing your chances of getting sick or injured. It doesn’t have to be much, even a quick stretch between emails is better than nothing!
Headstands, or Sirsasana II, are a good way to stimulate the nervous system and increase blood flow. I always feel strong after a good headstand, sometimes it’s the little things! Check out this video:
5 Steps to Headstands with Carolyn Budgell, a friend and teacher of mine. Carolyn explains how to carefully prepare your body for headstands as well as how to enter and exit the pose. I’ve heard that doing a daily headstand is like getting a free face lift, letting gravity pull your skin in the opposite direction ;)
Darling magazine recently put together an article on Gentle Yoga Postures for beginners. This is a great sequence for anyone looking to do a short daily stretch to start or end their day. The suggested time is 15 minutes, and there are 6 different postures to go through leaving you in a calm and grounded state. This is a great starting point, but feel free to use this as a base and add other stretches that you enjoy.
Thanks for reading. Photos taken from Pinterest.