The older I get, the more I feel the need to stretch. Similarly, tight muscles, stiff joints, dry skin, general tension and achiness all serve as cues that it’s time to treat my body and mind to a good, long stretch.
I often think about why I could get away with not stretching when I was younger. As a kid, and perhaps you can relate, I would jump, run, squirm, dance and move all around. I felt like my body could do anything!
In retrospect, I stopped doing those kinds of movements when my adult responsibilities set in. Having less energy from work, raising kids and dealing with life’s stressors, I found that my body had become more stiff from non-use. Does this sound familiar?
Our Goal: Freedom of Movement
When inactivity prevails, a certain feedback loop begins, where it becomes uncomfortable to move in all the ways our bodies were designed to. When people tell me, “I don’t like to stretch, it hurts!” I believe them! I also know from personal experience and working with aging bodies that this trend only gets worse as we remain sedentary.
So, if the thought of stretching makes you cringe, think of it as a slow, deliberate process of creating a pain-free space. We might start the process feeling like a hardened piece of saltwater taffy. It takes gentle pressure to soften up the taffy at first. Then, it becomes more malleable, enabling it to move in ways that hadn’t been possible at first. Eventually, that piece of taffy becomes much more easy to enjoy.
Perhaps memories of eating taffy will sweeten the prospect of gently stretching and enjoying your own body. In Yoga, we often find ourselves in positions that mimic things we may once have done as kids. Stretching and delighting in our bodies may come more naturally to us than we think!
Here are some suggestions to help you get started: