We all know that one person who strides into yoga class happy and confident to contort this way and that, with seemingly no effort. As you try to lower your head closer to your knee you can only think to yourself “what does she know that I don’t? How can I do this, too?” The answer is, although easily said, somewhat harder done: you’ve got to relax.
All too often, it is our past making our mind pull the strings in our body tighter and tighter. Without noticing it, trauma and difficult experiences can settle into our bones, musculature and nervous system to cause pain and stiffness even years later. As you can imagine, keeping your mind tight like a sailor’s knot won’t do your body any favors. And so, to reach farther, you’ve just got to let loose. Try one of the following to help you along the way.
If you think that stretchy, calm person in class was always this way, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. In order to allow for loosening, your body must be strong. You can’t just expect to chase it around the block twice and make it bow to your demands, no sir. You’ve got to put in the time, and your body will return the investment. This is a fact. Yoga is known to bring deep-seated emotions and memories you had no idea where lurking inside you to the surface. This allows you to deal with them head on, breathing deeply.
See a Great Chiropractor
Many times, our muscles spasm to protect areas of our spine that are misaligned or injured. When the spine becomes properly aligned, those muscle spasms will relax. This also improves communication between the brain and body, and helps you feel amazing!
Take a Hot Bath
What terrible advice, my God. But just try it once, it may not be so bad: Let a nice hot bath in for yourself, put some fragrant oils in there and sit, doing nothing. Don’t read magazines, don’t put on any music. Just sit with yourself and focus inward a little. The tub is also prime real estate to meditate – the low gurgling of the water, the calming heat enveloping your body. Just make sure not to fall asleep – that’s a bit looser than we’re looking for here.
Get a Massage
This one is especially sweet because it requires almost no effort on your part and is, strangely, far too effective for that. Usually, the rule is that you get back as much as you put in. Not with massages, though! Unless this is some sort of an arrangement where you need to return the favor. But even that comes with its unique benefits, you see.
Another thing where the fun beats the work by a long shot – get your dancing shoes on, roll up the carpet and get moving! No matter how, no matter to what, just get into the groove of things until you forget about your troubles. Dancing is one of the most beneficial, freeing things you can do, and not too bad for a loose body and mind, either. If you can do it with someone, great – but doing it alone means you can really let yourself go nuts.
Crossfit is a community that has many built in checks and balances to help loosen your muscles and increase your flexibility. Find a great community that you resonate with, that can support you in your journey to greater health!
Get Out With a Dog or a Child
Whether your own or someone else’s, dogs (or, let’s be honest, children) are firecrackers full of energy. Get out of the house and chase your friends son or your mom’s dog around the park – you’ll be having so much fun, you won’t notice you’re exhausted, physically, which is the best method to recharge your mind, funnily enough.
Notice the Small Things
Rome was famously built over multiple days, apparently, and so will any lasting change outside of the eternal city take time to come about. That doesn’t mean that nothing happens! Do small things and take note of the small – but at the same time momentous – changes they make within and without you. You know that feeling after meditation, that sense of calm? Be grateful you put in the time to get there, even if it fades quickly. Or the delightful pain of muscle soreness? Enjoy it and know that it’s working for you. No big turnaround will happen overnight, but the hand on the dial moves a notch every time, and before you know it, the day will come when you move through the world like water, graceful, strong and soft.