These illustrated stretching exercises
will show you how to keep your muscles elastic.

They will relieve stress, and benefit your whole body.
On their own, muscles can only contract or relax.
To stretch, you have to intervene to make them stretch.
If you do exercise, you need to stretch.
If you do not exercise, you need to stretch.

Stretching Exercises (Tension and Release)

Muscle Contraction
Spasm, Spasm, Spasm
Stretching
Decontracting

Stretching Exercises

StretchingIt is said that if you do exercise, then you need to stretch, and if you do not exercise, then you need to stretch. This is very true and very important. We all need to stretch! While you are Gliding, you are almost always stretching. Stretching and alignment (actually, realignment) work together, as we move gradually towards our own best perfect posture, alignment, and shape. Together, they are major components of shape-shifting.

You could abandon all other forms of exercise in favor of stretching, and still be fit. Effective stretching is the result of a combination of form (proper alignment of body parts before stretching) and yoga’s gentle, gradual approach. As my yoga teacher said, “A little, a little, a little every day”.

Strenuous exercise or a new form of exercise, or an unaccustomed movement awakens new muscles. Stretching exercises and cooling down lengthen the muscles that have been working, and disperse the accumulated lactic acid that is responsible for sore muscle after exercise. Stretching prepares your muscles for exercise, and relaxes them both during and after the effort. To stretch during exercise, see “Do the Inverse”. To enhance your stretch, apply the Jutras method.

When it comes to stretching—especially the hamstrings—I see too many people expending a great deal of effort for very little result (leaning forward, ambitiously reaching, chest constricted, shoulders hunched, as Keith is doing). Despite their apparent agility, they are most likely not feeling the White Pain Teacher, and they are not stretching! These illustrated stretching exercises will be your guide.

Breathe into a Stretch

While stretching, if you encounter a tight or painful area, breathe into it; doing this expands (balloons) the blockage from within, and is often the only way to get past the pain, and move on to the rest of a stretch. You are in control of your limits, and when the pain is greater than you are ready to deal with, you can stop the pain by simply stopping the expansion. You will nonetheless have begun to un-jam the blockage. On your next breath, you will be able to take in more air, and the pain will have moved on.

Don’t Neglect that Stretch
One day I returned home from a run to discover that a friend was waiting for me. Because of the unexpected visit, I forgot to stretch and was in pain for 3 days as a result! As little as 2 to 3 minutes of cool-down stretching is enough.

Reaching Is Not Stretching!

Reaching, not stretching

Reaching, not stretching

Seated hamstring stretch

Seated hamstring stretch

Touching your toes means that you can reach, but reaching is not stretching. Note Pascale’s constricted chest and rounded back as she touches her toes.

You do not need to go far to achieve a proper stretch. In this dynamic, yet relaxed, yoga forward bend, with the 4-Corners aligned, and maintaining a form that induces the DEER factor, Pascale is getting a good hamstring stretch, and is feeling the White Pain Teacher, even though she is leaning forward only slightly. The towel is an aid that helps to keep the feet active and unwonky, and the back straight.

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Summary
Stretching Exercises (Tension and Release)
Article Name
Stretching Exercises (Tension and Release)
Description
On their own, muscles can only contract or relax. To stretch, you have to intervene (to make them stretch). Stretching keeps muscles elastic, and is also the most beneficial form of exercise—it relieves stress, and benefits your whole body. These illustrated stretching exercises will show you how. If you do exercise, you need to stretch. If you do not exercise, you need to stretch.
Author