How many times have we looked at a yoga photo and thought to ourselves either, “I want to do that!” or “I can do that!”? Most of us have been learning some form of stretching exercise since we were children in PE class, yet it has been so easy sometimes to forget its significance as we juggle adulthood.
Stretching is more than hitting the perfect pose to capture a photo. Stretching is about training your body to safely and confidently push its limitations in ways that increase range of motion and sometimes relieve pain. Stretching is often more beneficial after performance or activity. Much of gaining range and adaptability in everyday success operates the same way.
Static stretching muscles is rarely used as a warm up effect but rather as a cool down effect for exercise. Mentally, as we are working through life’s challenges and dealing with the discomfort of inconvenience, we rarely consider that we could possibly be on the road to more possibilities and developing greater imagination. Instead, we focus on the tense pulling of the situation. It isn’t until we allow ourselves to cool down or pass through the challenge that we learn that things actually didn’t hurt as much as we thought they would.
In fact, we may even feel better and more accomplished after a victorious feat of personal will to not be stopped. Tony Robbins often states, “Progress equals happiness”, and it is progress in fitness that often transfers into desire to progress in other areas. When you can change your body, it changes your mindset about what else in life that you may be able to change. When you train your mind to believe that your body will adapt to progressive exercise, then your body changes also.
A key component of advancement in static flexibility exercise is holding the pose. The more often you practice the hold (approx. 30 sec), the further you eventually can go. Why is it that when it comes to mental resistance or life’s obstacles, we hate the hold so much? We wish it to be over as soon as possible instead of focusing on how to properly lean into it and maximize its benefits? In a world of constant expectation to go, race, and compete, why do we fear the opportunities that life gives us to hold and stretch – to pause?
Slow Down on Purpose
When we start making more effort to control what it feels like to slow down, we can feel much less panic whenever life does it for us. Put your phone on silent at least one day a week and only check it 3 times that day when you have available time. Don’t feel like you automatically have to respond to every text or phone call at the very times they are received. Use the free time to learn something or do something you normally feel too rushed to do.
Instead of rushing to turn on the TV, download some meditation music, motivational speech, or audio book, and set a short timer where you allow no interruptions. Take your time when eating your meals instead of scarfing them down as quickly as possible. Take a bath a couple times a week instead of a shower. How else can you manually begin to press pause in your own ways?
Cool Down with a Cooler Head
One of the most important areas we can focus on gaining flexibility is in how we relate to others who don’t rub us the right way. Know that we won’t get along with everyone and resist the opportunity to provoke an argument. The comment sections or social gatherings we frequent are usually lurking with volatility. Avoid using name-calling and derogatory words such as “stupid” in referring to others. Exercise your right to agree to disagree or to express you do not wish to engage the conversation or aggressive action.
We can practice these small changes with family members, in school and work environments, and in circumstances that involve customer service! We will not get it right every time, but as Master Trainer for NASM, Kinsey Mahaffrey shares, “The mindset I have applied to my personal fitness is ‘something is better than nothing’... This mindset often transfers over to my work life.” Something is better than nothing when it comes to behavior change and overall wellness.
Create New Experiences
While it is always tempting to stick to what we know, utilizing the Universal Law of Polarity can help us expand our adventures and create new realities. Say yes to the colors you normally don’t wear, or yes to the restaurant you think you can’t afford, or yes to the event you’ve been asked to volunteer for. Both the mind and the body need new stimuli in order to decrease depression, sedentary living, and self-esteem challenges. Repetition is great for mastering a skill but it is dangerous for creating growth after that skill has been mastered. Be willing to get excited about the unknown.
Make it Short, Steady, and Stable
It was Bruce Lee who said, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.” Some of the best development we get from our bodies is by slow or isometric movement patterns, whether we are using bodyweight or external resistance. A key method of developing flexibility through life’s challenges is the same as how we focus on flexibility movements – make ‘em smooth!
Resist the belief that results only manifest through grand gestures or large increments. Sometimes we create more injury, damage, or delay to ourselves by overreacting or overreaching in order to force outcome. We sometimes have to learn to flow with the current of circumstances instead of fighting to reverse the direction, and we’d get where we want to go with less friction. In life we have to leave room for the unknown and avoid burnout in the process.
We may not always be able to do that 45 min workout we planned but why can’t we still work out for the 20 min that we do have available? Maybe we didn’t get the raise at work, so how can we utilize a personal skill to create additional income on our own? Concentrate on making your bumpy ride smooth and less shaky.
Growth in flexibility practices, both physically and psychologically, creates safety for us as both individuals and as a society. It helps to prevent us from falling, bounce back from failure, and push ourselves into new territory. We stand a better chance of having better relationships with ourselves and with others once we stretch into the fullness of our health and our imaginations. If 2022 already has you moving backwards or fighting for stability, here’s 4 Reasons You Aren’t Hitting Your Goals.