As I slowly walked across the hill, the fallen leaves spoke softly in muted yellows, reds, browns, and oranges as they stayed undisturbed under my feet.
I breathed in the crisp air and watched Rocky, his nose down in detective mode, searching out a rabbit or squirrel that recently had passed this way.
The silence of the afternoon crept up around me while I watched the clouds hang out in big white fluffy patches. I already had received the gift of luck this new year even before a week had passed. But as I turned around and shifted my gaze to another patch of clouds, a full rainbow graced its benevolence on Newport and stretched its mighty length across the sky.
My inner child burst through and I felt like I was witnessing a miracle, all the colors beaming their brilliant hues high above, a candy stripe of light arching a trail to an alleged pot of gold.
As my eyes momentarily scanned the ground for a leprechaun scurrying to deposit his treasure of coins, I started thinking metaphorically and wondered what in life is the pot of gold?
A lot of people might tell you it’s winning the lottery. A lot of other people will say love of people, friends and family. And though I’m up for both to fill my coffers, I can’t enjoy either one without the movement of my body in everyday life. The importance of having full range of motion is made clearly when an injury hampers simple everyday tasks as getting dressed, reaching a high cupboard, or picking something off the floor. Putting years on the body by getting older also takes it’s toll if care and concern was not properly given to keep healthy and in shape.
Flexibility is always the perfect beginning to enhance the way one feels and to get the body ready for exercises. Body tensions are usually the result of habitual actions and patterns of behavior that have been established in response to past trauma, current stresses, and lifestyle.
There are some facts to understand about stretching and learning flexibility. Placing yourself in overextended positions is not stretching. Pulling and yanking isn’t either. Stretching a muscle means there is a natural contraction and resistance that produces the stretch. The best way to stretch is to maximally resist while lengthening. It takes twice the tension to stretch a muscle as to strengthen it. Resistance stretching allows immediate, cumulative and permanent increases in flexibility and strength. By resisting the stretch, necessary tension is created in the muscle which results in immediate increase in flexibility.
Here are three beginner exercises to make the muscles supple and strong:
Stretch one: Lie on your back. Place your feet on the floor so your knees are bent. Take your left ankle and place it over your right knee. Then pull your right knee up halfway so your hip and leg forms a right angle. Place both hands on the back of your right thigh and slowly pull your right knee with your arms toward your chest and forehead as they curl up off the ground. While the right knee is moving toward your chest and your forehead to your knee, resist the movement in two ways: resisting your left ankle against the forward movement of your right knee; and then resisting this movement with the arms pulling the right knee forward. This improves hip, leg, neck and head muscles, improves the health of the gall bladder and tendons and works on fat metabolism by increasing blood flow.
Stretch two: Lie on the floor on your back. Bring your right knee up to your chest so your hip and leg forms a right angle. Grasp your right ankle and foot with both hands. As you bring your heel up with your hands moving toward your head, resist the movement by kicking your heel downward toward your butt. This improves the health of the brain and central nervous system by stretching the back of the legs on up the spine.
Stretch three: Stand with feet together and grasp your hands together above your head. Lean toward the left while continuously pushing with your right hand against the movement. Return to the starting position. This benefits the health of your liver and tendons and helps to detoxify and improve the overall appearance of the body.
With each exercise, inhale as you get into the starting position and then exhale as you move through the stretch. Repeat both the stretching and strengthen movements 6-10 times then change sides.
Remember to always drink quality water and end every stretch with a smile on the face and peace in the heart.