S T R E T C H like an Animal

Pink Cat Stretching

As I was sitting in my office this afternoon waiting for the thunderstorm (that popped up right at 5 p.m.) to pass, I decided to do a little stretching. I’ve not always been good about stretching over the years but as I’ve gotten older and developed an arthritic condition, I have come to very much appreciate its benefits.

Gentle stretching is simply good for the body, mind and soul. It should be something we do on a daily basis. We should take note from the animal world regarding how natural and essential it is to stretch our bodies for good health, clarity and flexibility. Unless they are startled, dogs and cats (and I suspect other mammals) always begin their mornings with long, lazy stretches and big, wide yawns. In fact, they stretch just about every time they get up from a sitting or lying position. Oftentimes my dog and cats let out a drawn yelp or meow when they stretch, so if it helps, go ahead and vocalize with your moves too!

I must admit, I have actually seen doves at my bird feeder stretch out their pink feet when they’ve perched too long on the flat platform of seed. They also do this dipping action on my fence, kindof like push ups, but that may be more of a mating call or some sort of territorial behavior . . . I’ll have to research that one day.

Of course, before I give you specifics about my particular regimen or the one I cite at the link below, I have to preface my post with the fact I am not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Having said that, the following describe stretches that have helped me with a few minor aches and pains and I’d like to share them with you.

Stretching can help with posture if you are one of those folks like me that sits at a computer all day. Go find a doorway and place your forearms on the side frames and lean your body forward without moving your feet. You’ll feel a nice stretch in your upper chest and shoulders that will help offset the secretarial humpback syndrome!

This weekend I developed a “hitch in my get-along” as I hiked at least a mile from a parking lot to Cowboy Stadium to watch a concert. The hike was worth it as the concert was absolutely awesome – Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band and Billy Currington – but a mile or more trek in heeled cowboy boots left me quite sore the next day. After taking anti-inflammatories for a couple of days, I decided to try the following stretch to ease the catch I had developed in my left hip. Lying on a bed on your back, position your rump to the edge of the bed. Bring one leg up and bend your knee. Hook your arms around your bent leg, allowing the other leg to hang limply off the edge of the bed. It takes some mental practice to allow the leg to relax and go completely limp – so be mindful of this. Reverse legs.

In addition, I often perform a few common, basic yoga poses that most of you are already familiar with – downward dog, arched cat, and child pose. Speaking of animals and children, I recently came across a website with photos and directions for “animal” yoga poses for kids:   http://www.namastekid.com/learn/kids-yoga-poses/ .  Although the info is geared toward kids, I firmly believe these poses are great for all ages and especially for those of us whose bodies can’t handle a jolting exercise program. Besides, the stretches are easy to remember due to the animal references!

So as I end today’s post, I encourage you to add a little animal behavior to your daily routine and stretch away those aches, pains, kinks and stresses! Just think – the better fit and flexible we are, the easier to prepare, plant and produce a wonderful garden!

Until next time,

Cindy

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