There is no other force in our modern lives more responsible for off-setting the natural mind/body balance like stress. Responding to constant stress has our shoulders tense, our backs clenched and our jaws locked. Undue stress puts strain on our hearts, increases our blood pressure, affects our capacity to think and act clearly and disrupts sleep patterns. Stretching the mind/body by means of conscious expansion, rather than force, is an excellent way to regain body harmony, peace and balance. Here are a few simple ways of stretching that can help eliminate stress. Take a deep breath, exhale, and read on.
Stretching for stress reduction begins by easing the body/mind into it, like walking into the ocean. The lowly yawn is a perfect place to start. Take a deep, relaxing breath and produce a yawn. Better yet, produce 7 yawns. Though yawning may not initially be thought of as a stretch, it expands the lungs and draws in oxygen and chi/prana while stimulating the neural pathways and opening the meridians in the body. Breathing is key to stress reduction, and yawning naturally facilitates inhaling and exhaling, which expands the capacity and re-inflates collapsed air passageways and alveoli. producing expansion and capacity re-inflation of collapsed air passageways and alveoli. This completely resets body awareness and attention, encouraging a full body stretch that automatically reduces anxiety, unlocks the jaw, opens the eardrums, rinses the eyes, produces cleansing saliva and swallowing and resets body/mind attention.
Inhale and Exhale – the Mighty Breath
After yawning has reset your mind/body attention, unlock your posture with a series of expansive breaths. Consider breathing the deepest kind of stretching. A timed breath series, wherein the exhale is sustained slightly longer than the inhale with a little space at the end, greatly calms the nervous system and releases mind loops. This enables the Vagus Nerve to signal the brain to turn down the sympathetic nervous system and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Parasympathetic dominance turns down the “fight, flight or freeze” stress response, lowers cortisol levels and heart rate, and calms the body. So, calmly inhale for two counts, sustain for one, exhale for four counts and sustain for one.
Head and Neck Stretch
The upper part of the body takes real punishment when stressed. After yawning and breathing, shift your attention to your heart, thymus, face and head. From a sitting position, close your eyes and allow yourself to feel as though you are floating. Begin to circle your head by dropping your jaw to your heart and tracing circles with the top of your head all the way around, allowing your jaw to drop open as your head traces to the back of your body. Feel as though your head were tracing a circle with the lightest touch possible.
Extend it to the Waist
Allow the head circle to be continuous, repeat several times and reverse direction. Allow the circular movement to then extend all the way to your waist, incorporating a bit of an arch. Keep the movement slow, even and easy expanding, breathing deeply the entire time. Check to make certain you are light and that your hips are light and can move circularly.
Having prepared the body for lift-off, feel your feet softly on the floor and raise up with the open intention of reproducing a morning full body stretch, arms overhead, opening to the yawning feeling and inhaling and exhaling naturally. Shift from foot to foot and circle the hips, sway and arch.
The Live Well Holistic Health Center, located in Admore, PA, is dedicated to the expansion and restoration of beauty and balance in the mind/body. Let us help you learn how to cope with and relieve stress safely. Dr. Martin Orimenko’s holistic approach and unique and highly effective form of gentle chiropractic care can be the foundation to a wondrous life. Feel free to contact us through our online form, use our online scheduling tool or call (610) 896-1554 to make an appointment.