How to move on life

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It’s not a failing to change and how to move on life an exercise to suit your needs, whether it’s because of pain, age, or stiffness. There’s a back door to every stretch. Nor is it cheating to use props and modifications. It’s just plain wise.

The body can move in multiple directions with a great deal of ease, yet people are often deterred from doing stretching exercises because they worry about feeling discouraged. We would all love to look like the models featured in this book, but use them to help you see the stretching exercises clearly, not to compare yourself with them.

How to move on life

Some of the stretches may feel a little strange or unusual, especially if you are new to exercise. Part of the reason we stretch in unusual positions is to identify our weak links, so pay attention and focus on what feels too tight, too loose, or painful.

If an exercise doesn’t feel right, there’s always a way to make it more accessible. Some people have trouble sitting on the floor because they have tight hamstrings, glutes, or tightness in the lower back, or a combination of one or more of these.

Sitting on a footstool, ottoman, towel, or bolster can give just the lift needed to make the stretch possible.

Knees should never hurt during stretching.

If they feel painful, support them on pillows or bolsters to take the pressure off. Another tip for this pose is to move the feet farther away from the groin.

Pay special attention to your knees and monitor them for signs of pain or discomfort. “No pain, no gain” definitely does not apply to these complex joints. If you need to, prop them up with pillows when you are sitting to take the strain off the ligaments.

If they feel tender when you kneel on them in weight-bearing positions, support them with some form of padding. Straighten them out of a bent-leg position if it feels uncomfortable. If one of the knees refuses to straighten, as it might in the Lying hamstring stretch, use a towel, belt, or strap to reach the foot.

Help for different stretches.

A towel over the toes acts as a strap for a hamstring stretch – elastic exercise bands don’t work so well. A book under the pelvis will help you to sit forward on the
sitting bones.

A rolled towel placed under the head straightens the neck and helps you avoid neck pain (right, centre). A towel is excellent as padding when you are kneeling (right, below).

Stretches for everyday life

How to move on

It’s easy to take your stretches into everyday life. Notice how you move when you are grooming yourself, dressing, even cooking and cleaning, and turn each movement into a stretch. And think “office” as well as “home” to get the most out of your stretch regime.

Look at the ways your body moves in everyday life. Notice how different movements feel, such as brushing your hair or pulling on a sweater or trousers.

Does the task feel comfortable?

Do you have the same range of motion on both sides?

How does it feel to bend over to reach to a pet?

Let your answers to these questions guide you to set yourself goals that will make an action a little easier or smoother.

Gradual changes

Changes to the way we move happen gradually over time. Diminishing range of motion creeps up on people of every age. A student notices writing arm and shoulders tightening during a long exam.

A young mother notices a tight chest or sore lower back as she holds or reaches down to a toddler. Older adults notice they can’t bend to the floor or reach up into cupboards as easily as before.

Your adaptable body

Life’s distractions, such as being preoccupied with a demanding job, with a new baby, or with having to juggle a long commute with household duties can sideline us from regular physical activity. Then suddenly we notice a change and start to worry that our bodies are not as mobile as they once were.

The good news is that your body is adaptable. It changes to accept what the environment is telling
it to do. If you inadvertently restrict its movements for instance, by sitting for long periods it adapts
to the smaller, less frequent motions.

Conversely, it can re-adapt. That’s why it’s important to find ways in everyday life to get an extra little bit of stretch. Small changes can keep your body healthy over time.

In a crowded schedule

It’s commendable to devote an hour or two a day to taking exercise, but not everyone can do that. Our 15-minute programmes make it possible to exercise, even with the most crowded schedule.

Yet neither should you overlook the power of taking 25 seconds – four breath cycles – to feel the stretch in an everyday position or movement. This will add to your overall physical well-being.

Using this strategy during those overwhelming times of life, when every second appears to be accountable, will pay rich dividends.

Brushing your hair is a great way to stretch the shoulders and chest. Try switching the brush to your non-dominant hand to balance both sides of the body

Putting on your socks is a good time for a hamstring stretch. Simply lift the leg, or reach over to it, bow the head, and take a few breaths.

Working in an office gives you a good opportunity to use some chair stretches from the Wake up the stretch programme. Reach your hands behind your head and wing your elbows open in a chest stretch.

It helps your work day go faster and more smoothly. Sitting work is probably among the most tiring, and it’s important to take frequent breaks, even for a few breaths.

Office stretches increase clear thinking as well as helping to avoid computer over-use problems that can affect your chest, hands, and arms. Intermittent breathing and stretches will make you a more productive worker, whatever you do for a living.

An everyday habit

Perseverance is simple when you make stretches an everyday habit. Habits can be formed in as little as 21 days, so set a goal on your calendar for the next 21 days and find opportunities for a stretch at home, work, and play. Have faith: the body will change, but only with persistence. Stretching in everyday life makes that persistence easy.

Take a twist break at the office.

Cross one leg over the other and turn in the direction of the crossed leg, just as in our Seated cross-leg twist

Everyday stretches that make a difference

• Reach a little farther to stretch into that cupboard. Take a break. Yawn to stretch the jaw. Open the eyes and look upwards to open the chest and neck.

• Stretch your legs and hips when putting on and taking off clothes. Practise lunges when vacuuming and move your hips from side to side when sweeping.

• Renew your posture at the office by squeezing between the shoulder blades and rolling your shoulders. Firm the glutes and sit up tall.

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Relaxation techniques 

Relaxation takes discipline in a busy world. Chores, obligations, and crises sap your energy reserves and present road blocks to emotional balance. Try these scheduled and unscheduled calming techniques to make relaxation a priority in your life.

How to move on life, relaxation is great for renewing the body, mind, and spirit. During every waking hour we expend our physical and mental energy, so we need to replenish it. Take a cue from professional athletes who aim for peak fitness.

They know that the key to achieving optimal functioning lies in alternating periods of stress with times of relief and rest. We all need a certain amount of stress in our lives to challenge and motivate us. But we also need to shake off any fatigue on a regular basis to avoid chronic weariness.

Sleep and rest

It’s important for us all to renew our resources with nightly sleep and timely rest. Developing a healthy nightly ritual is essential in establishing an optimal renewal plan. Make your bedroom a sanctuary by creating a soothing, quiet place with your favourite Use the contract–release method to lessen the tensions in your body.

Tips for dealing with daily stress

• To cope with life’s ups and downs be sure to make time daily for refreshment and restoration.

• Manage your stress. Try a progressive relaxation technique, breathe deeply, or learn to meditate to reverse the effects of stress.

• Develop good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom an inviting, quiet, peaceful sanctuary and let go of the day’s hassles and worries.

Bedding and gentle lighting.

Don’t have the television or your computer in the bedroom. It should be a space strictly for unwinding. Don’t drink alcohol last thing at night. Instead, savour a cup of a caffeine-free drink for an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Some people find a warm bath before bed helps to relax them.

Light reading material can also quieten the mind and help you leave the day’s worries behind you. Make sure the room is completely dark while you’re asleep. Studies have shown that exposure to light during sleep can disturb your body’s natural cycles.

If you awaken during the night, focus on the pleasant texture of the bedding, take deep breaths, and relish the luxurious time you have for rest. Try to get seven to eight hours of the deep sleep you need for complete physical restoration.

Using stretching to help you relax

Relaxation techniques can greatly influence the restoration cycle. Simple exercises such as the progressive contract-relax technique can quickly lower body tension and take your mind away from over-analytical thoughts.

For instance, tense the fists as you count to ten, then relax them. In order of progression, apply the same tense-thenrelax method to the shoulders, thighs, calves, feet, abdomen, and finally the face, puckering your lips and eyes strongly.

End the technique by tensing your entire body, and then completely let go of all your body tension as you breathe five deep, long breaths.

Notice how relaxed your body and your mind have become. Another simple yet reliable relaxation technique, excellent for any setting and any location, is deep diaphragmatic breathing . Place your fingers at the bottom of your breast bone to find the way your diaphragm moves.

Sniff quickly several times or cough to feel the muscles move. Breathe into the diaphragm and feel these muscles expand for four seconds (think “1-alligator, 2-alligator”, etc.). Then exhale for 8 seconds. Slow breathing reverses the fight-or-flight, adrenalinbased panic that’s part of our fast-paced society.

Practice deep breathing.

Diaphragmatic breath is found by placing your fingers at the bottom of your breast bone and sniffing or coughing a few times. Inhale deeply; feel the rib cage expand.

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