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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
  Home  > Personal Wellness (Lite)  > 9. Stretch Yourself

9. Stretch Yourself

Stretching is the important link between the sedentary life and the active life. It keeps the muscles supple, prepares you for movement, and helps you make the daily transition from inactivity to vigorous activity without undue strain.—Bob Anderson, MD, Stretching

One of the simplest and most effective ways to release tension and energize yourself is to take time out for a good stretch. You can stretch in almost any position, and, in fact, a good stretch before you get out of bed in the morning is a fine way to start the day. Developing the habit of stretching frequently throughout the day will make a big difference in how you feel.

Stretch yourself, right now.


Now take a deep, full breath, and stretch again in a different way than you did the first time.


Most people claim that stretching feels good. It helps release muscle tension almost immediately, which results in an overall sense of relax¬ation. As it breaks up energy blockages in the body, stretching allows for better circulation. It improves your range of motion, too. As you ease into a stretch, you literally reach farther. Stretching is also a way to increase self awareness. Focusing on how different body parts feel when they are being stretched increases your power of concentration and heightens your awareness of internal feedback. With growing self awareness comes a greater sense of self control. The more you honor your body, the more you listen to what it wants and needs, the more you will appreciate it. And this just naturally blossoms into greater self esteem.

When you stretch, don’t make jerky, quick, or bouncing movements. Instead, ease into your stretches in a smooth, relaxed way and hold the stretched posture externally while you internally release the muscles. If you feel any pain, stop. Stretching that causes pain can lead to serious injury if muscle tissues lose elasticity and tear. “No pain, no gain” should be understood metaphorically, not literally, where stretching is concerned. Breathe consciously while stretching and imagine that you are actually breathing into the parts of the body being stretched.

Refer to 3. Breathe for Life for instructions on breathing fully.

Start Your Day with a Stretch
The All Day Stretching Habit
Hatha Yoga

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