Clink on the text and image links for specific yoga stretches.
or choose from the list below
Every animal naturally stretches. Upon rising, before going to sleep. Preparing to play.
Stretching feels good. It improves circulation of blood and oxygen to your muscles and nerves and bones. Long, strong muscles are more efficient at moving the body around, and protecting us from injury.
It is said that each one of us is a microcosm of the universe - like drops of the ocean, containing every thing within us, every trait, every capacity, that the universe does. What the universe is, so are we. If the universe is ever expanding, it is also in our nature to continually become more of ourselves. To grow, to develop, to diversify, proliferate, deepen. To stretch. The secret life of the desire to stretch is the desire to fully experience ourselves. In sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, they have a word for this - poornatva - fullness.
How to Stretch
You may want to read about hypermobility, or over stretching, before you continue.
Many of us have lost touch with our instinctive understanding of how to move in our bodies. We think of stretching as hanging down limply over locked knees until our fingers touch the ground. Or bouncing repeatedly over a flaccid hamstring, our shoe clad foot resting limply on the seat of a kitchen chair.
The most important thing to remember about yoga stretches is that the stretching is but one aspect of the pose, never the pose itself. The extending or expanding part of yoga is initiated only after we have 1) softened, and become aware of ourselves and the moment, 2) engaged all our muscles towards a common focal point, and 3) with the benefit of a well trained teacher, organized our body into a reasonable approximation of its optimal blueprint.
That said, simple yoga stretches can be safely explored using the following pattern:
Begin by putting yourself into the approximate shape of the pose or stretch you want to perform. If the approximate shape of the pose is an extreme stretch, or in any way painful, a modification of the pose will be necessary. Try just backing off a bit. If that doesn't work, you can write to me to ask about modifications, or, better yet, find a teacher in your town and take a class or two. Good teachers always appreciate students who seek advice about safety and good alignment in the poses.
Take a moment to soften. Notice that you are in fact being held by the ever present support of the earth beneath you. Let your inner body sweetly expand upward and outward with your breath.
Then, draw all of your muscles lovingly in around that soft, expanded feeling.
Finally, while maintaining all of those actions, from deep within you - stretch. reach out to your edges and beyond in all directions, like a star.
List of Yoga Stretches
first, find a teacher to guide you in your practice.
upper back stretches
eye of the needle pose (a gentle hip opener and IT band stretch).
Practice in Aligment, Practice with a Teacher
While doing yoga stretches on your own can be beneficial, and fun, nothing can replace a real live yoga teacher, or the transformative experience of an actual community to practice in.
Take a class with me in Portland, Oregon
go back from yoga stretches to the secret lives home page