Finding the time to breathe

Day 6 and still going pretty strong.  I’ve been following stretches from the Contortionists Handbook, which has served to both inspire, inform and discourage me.  Mainly inspire, but some of those photos are just so impossible looking! For example:

What?!?  Probably not going to happen…but you never know, she had to start at the beginning too, right 🙂  I’ve been able to spend between 1-2 hours a day stretching so far, following advise I got long ago,  “stretch more when you’re body allows you to, but don’t force it when your body says no.  Reading through that site it says to stretch 3 hours a day, but I haven’t been able to set that much time aside so far.  It’s been interesting though that when something becomes part of your routine all of  sudden you just find the time to get everything done.  It’s been a good slow ease into into this month because I fly to Vancouver tonight and I’m not sure how easy finding a time/ place to stretch will be with a new schedule.  It’s usually when I would decide to just not stretch, but not this time 🙂

As far as improvement, well it has only been 6 days.  However it already takes me less time to get into my maximum back flexibility than it did on day 1.  Which is great since I don’t always have a ton of time to warm up before I perform.  Even if that’s all I get out of this experiment it will be worth it.

Another thing I’ve learned so far is that it’s most helpful to relax in a stretch and focus on breathing.  I used to wiggle around quite a bit and sometimes bounce, but when you are more still you can focus on all your muscles relaxing and pushing a little further with each breath.  Stretching my back in the past has always been more of a feeling of suffocating than that my back was in pain.  Especially chinstands:

Your body just panics because you can’t breathe well and wants to escape the position.  Overriding that natural impulse to pretty much do the opposite is hard, and I think that’s where my back stretching has failed in the past.  I mean if you can’t stay in the position you aren’t stretching anything really.  Focusing on my breath, relaxing my muscles and breathing shallow through my nose has helped a lot.  It also puts me in a more meditative mood – bonus!  Stretching everyday also eliminates my need to get further faster.  It’s just a mental thing, but since I am doing a little everyday and I know that will continue I don’t feel the need to push my self too far.  When I stretch less often I am often disappointed that I am not further along and think I need to push twice as hard to make up for it.  Which results in me feeling horribly sore and taking a few too many days off… repeat, repeat, repeat.

So in summary… relax and breathe through it 🙂

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