Creating space in your body through exercise stretches, creates space in your life for Body-Mind-Soul healing.
‘If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred.’ ~ Walt Whitman
"Exercise stretches," according to Wikipedia, "are a form of physical exercise in which specific skeletal muscles are deliberately elongated to their fullest length in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and reaffirm comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion."
Doing stretching exercises are a must if you are to create health and flexibility in your body.
However, according to Wikipedia, none of our commonly held beliefs
about stretching are substantiated with study findings. There exists
much dispute as to whether stretching exercises before or after activity
actually reduces injuries. Some studies actually suggest that
pre-exercise stretching induces a fatigue-like state in muscles, which
would inhibit performance if the muscle is not at full
potential. Static stretching or exercise stretching that holds the
stretch without movement may increase range of motion of the joint, but
perhaps genetics are more important. What the actual benefit this
additional range of motion brings to the athlete is questioned.
If we observe the animal kingdom, stretching is a natural and instinctual activity. Most humans feel the same. Exercise stretching feels good. Stretching is a way to dispel energy that has built up over periods of inactivity that mentally and emotionally prepare you to start the movement that your body requires next. Stretching may increase the circulation in the muscles and help them warm up. Exercise stretching varies your body position after long periods of muscle tension when you sit at your desk or computer. Done as a change in position, exercise stretching is very beneficial to aid you in the release of chronically held muscular tension.
Exercise stretching is a way of learning about where your tensions exist. Chronically held, tense muscles create ill health and dis-ease. If you look at stretching as a way to release tension in the muscles, and create relaxation and space in your body, a whole new metaphor for healing can be experienced.The metaphor for finding health and healing through finding your space or creating your own space is very significant.
The space that you create in your body becomes the mental and spiritual avenue to create space in your life. For spiritual growth and spiritual healing to begin, you use your Body Window to help you create space. You found your areas that needed work, which you discovered through your body scan. Opening up these problem areas will help you create this space.
Rainbow over the Ridge, just after a mountain downpour
Stretching exercises are the key to open up and create space in your body. Opening up any area through exercise stretching will help you create overall space in your body and in your life. In order to learn, experience and grow we must learn to 'stretch' our bodies, our minds and our souls! Just remember to keep the exercise stretch meditative and breathe. The goal is to do more than just the mechanical movements.
Do not bounce as you stretch. This only creates tears in your tissues. It is through the slow, held, prolonged stretch that tissue changes, that your mind will be freed and your soul experienced! Hold your stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, and up to 2 minutes or so for the full benefit.
Deeply held exercise stretches and yoga poses help you to reach inside yourself, creating the time and space for the healing of your issues. If you watch TV while you stretch, talk to your family, listen to anything other than meditative music, you will not reap the full rewards of this metaphorical creating of space. The metaphor of creating space is to access all parts of your being, your body-mind-soul and integrate them for greater understanding of yourself. The benefits of yoga and other exercise stretches cannot be achieved with these type of distractions.
‘Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies.’ – Frank Gillette Burgess
Our bodies really are a reflection of who we are and what we have become! Those areas that you identified in your body scan, those stiff and sore areas are the areas that you need to stretch the most. They are tight because you lack flexibility in those areas and you are not open to what this area of your body represents in your life. You are tight and tense because you push yourself too hard in everything!
You will focus on the areas and you intuitively know where they are – where the least flexibility and mobility exists in your body-mind-soul. You know where your tension is! You also know the degree of your tension. Today is the day to start feeling and releasing this tension and to begin to create space and freedom.
Muscle knots and hot spots (see Foam Rolling) may represent congestion and clutter in your life. You need to clear the 'toxins' and clear the clutter. You need to clear your junk in your body, in your life and in your home and simplify wherever possible.
All of your junk, in your body, your home, your heart and in your soul is a metaphor for what is weighing you down, what needs a cleaning out in your life. Think of creating space as a clean out of your body-mind-soul for peace and understanding to flow in.
To begin to create space with your body, start with a yoga mat. Go somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Creating a sacred space is a great way to do this. Light a candle if you wish to represent your soul and it’s journey, lower the lights or listen to meditative music to put you in the right frame of mind.
Sit quietly, supported on the floor, in the half-lotus position if you like. Center yourself by becoming present to your breathing. Focus on the flow of life, in and out of your lungs. Say a word of gratitude to God/Universal Spirit for all that you have and all that you are. Doing the Body Blessing Prayer would suffice for your centering.
As your heart desires and where you know your issues are, move into that area with a gentle exercise stretch. If you don’t know where to start, sit with your legs stretched straight out in front of you or in the half lotus or just Indian style. As you breathe in, slowly bend forward at the waist.
As you exhale, keep bending until you reach an area of slight discomfort. Hold that position for a few more breaths and up to 2 minutes or more. If the muscles involved (in this case the lower back and the back of your legs) relax and if the discomfort goes away, inhale again while your lift and elongate your spine. On the exhale move into the exercise stretch even farther, again until just reaching the area where slight discomfort is felt. Hold this again as you feel deeply how it feels to open up this area. Feel how it feels to 'create space' in your body. Repeat this process again and sink deeper if you can. Feel any emotions that arise (see Intuitive Movement for a full description).
Feel deeply the metaphor of creating space in your life. Notice any changes in your body-mind-soul as you move deeper in the stretch, deeper into your inner space. Spend time here and don’t rush to the next move or the next exercise stretch. You can work on something else another day or time.
Never bounce. Slow and sinking movements are the right way to do it. Never push past pain. If pain of more than moderate intensity occurs or shooting pain into a muscle occurs, stop immediately and ease off the stretch (see When Pain is a Medical Emergency).
Seated Forward Fold with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Now move to the other side, doing the same exercise stretch (if indicated). Notice any difference in the space you create from one side to another. Does your body's balance have any significance for you? If a significant thought comes to mind, can this thought be translated into a metaphor for creating space in your life? If the answer is yes, meditate on that thought as you continue the exercise stretch. If the answer is no, keep working on creating more inner space.
Progressively over time, work all the areas that you know need attention. Add foam rolling or body rolling on a body ball or tennis ball to deepen the stretch and the movement. You will find that certain sore areas or hot spots won’t release easily. Spend most of your time in these areas. You will know which areas are opening and releasing and which areas are resisting.
When a habitually overused or tensely held area finally releases the feeling is fantastic. The sore area and your whole body suddenly will feel freer and so much better. Doing this practice of opening space in your body will become therapy to you and you will soon find it addictive. The health and healing that you create will affect your entire life, your entire way of being.
Prolonged, gentle exercise stretches done in this manner will continue to change your tissue for more space and flexibility over time. It will change your life over time. You will discover that creating space in your body creates space in your life.
You will create better health, better posture, better balance and flexibility and better joint mobility. These are all metaphors for the changes that will actually occur in your life through your Body Window. These positive changes will help you age gracefully and with flexibility in all things.
Clear out the clutter, clear out the cobwebs and clear out the congestion in your life. Create 'real' space for health and healing by listening to your body’s messages. Listen to the message as you work on the sore spots and work out the knots. Create space through opening up your body through exercise stretching and relaxation. The space you create in your body will create space in your life and space in your soul for your inner self to come out. You will learn where your real desires lie, where your real values are!
I remember the winter of 2008-09 when the economic recession was at its deepest and darkest, which just happened to coincide with my own personal deepest, darkest winter. I would wake up between 2-4 a.m. without fail. It was as if my intuition, my body-mind-soul was trying to 'wake me up' to something! It was when I was giving birth to new ideas, struggling to find my path. I knew I was on a journey and I had no idea what road I needed to take. It was as if my soul was trying to create 'space' for creation itself!
In the dark of night, I would get out of bed when I couldn’t sleep and light candles and meditate and pray on my yoga mat. I would slowly move, move into stretches where the ache was, where the pain was. I somehow knew that I was creating space, creating my new reality. Our bodies are just space anyway. What we think of, as solid tissue is really just wave particles flying around.
The Body Window is about finding the gap in space, the gap in your tissue for feeling, for releasing and for healing. The Body Window is about creating physical space through the lowly exercise of stretching, for finding your inner space!
Use the exercise stretch to trust your Body Window as it speaks to you. You will find your own, personal, inner space. It is where you find Peace and Joy and God.