I will never EVER be able to do the splits. But I do love stretching.
Stretching relaxes your mind and body and puts you in a better mood. It makes you aware of where your body is feeling tight, and gets the blood flowing to places that aren’t getting much activity otherwise. It can wake you up and also help you sleep.
No time to exercise? Why not just stretch!
Most people thing of stretching as something you do before and after exercise. But here’s the secret: you can do it instead of exercise.
You don’t have to do a full-on yoga class, go to the gym or put in a DVD to get a nice stretch. I haven’t had an exercise routine in years, but stretching continues to bring benefits like:
- Greater flexibility and range of motion in the joints
- Relieved body stiffness and discomfort
- Improved circulation and energy
- Relaxed and limber body
- Relaxed mind
And one big bonus, stretching can help you maintain your weight. How? Stretching brings awareness and appreciation of your body, relieving some of the stress that causes many of us to overeat.
Where to start: Indulge yourself. Stretch where it feels good.
Stretching can feel as indulgent as chocolate, or any of life’s other pleasures. Think of the long, luxurious movements of a cat just getting up from a nap.
Start with what feels good to you. Feel where your body is tight and stagnant, and find a stretch that’s comfortable and brings relief. Never force it or bounce for greater reach.
I was into yoga some years ago, so I adapted a few stretches from that discipline. I also used to play badminton competitively, and a few of the warm up stretches stayed with me. After stretching for just 5 minutes, I’m feeling as relaxed and as supple as this wound up, sleep deprived mama possibly could.
You can find a good general stretching routine at Esteem Fitness and another stretching routine just for moms from Parenting.com. Just pick the ones that work for you. (I just do the standing stretches if I think I might not get up again from anything that requires getting on the floor.)
If you do one good thing for yourself today, take 5 minutes to stretch before you go to bed tonight.
You can thank me in the morning.