Stretch for sleeping or waking

“If you want the rainbow, then you must have the rain.” ~Annette Hanshaw

TW sent some suggestions on going to sleep in comments.

Whoa! 15 min. to “shut it down?!” Maybe it seems excessive to “use” this much time (as I do) but it’s not like I’m not “accomplishing” stuff, just substituting “mindless chores” and some light reading off-line. I still like the”feel” of a magazine (ex: Nat Geo, Vanity Fair) or a book (short stories, humorous, uplifting etc.) in my hands to take my mind somewhere else after my body has performed the clean up/get ready and make the AM a bit more “mindless” as well-like getting the coffee ready. There’s no way I could get my mind or body to shut down in 15 min! You’re a true “marathoner,” Ruth!
The stretching thing isn’t anything special at all. I’ll try to explain this as best I can: When I get into bed-and I plop in the middle because I can 😉 -I lay on my back arms slightly extended from my sides. I start slowly inhaling and as I’m doing this:
Starting with my toes and feet, working my way up my legs to my torso, arms down to my fingers I start tightening up my muscles, area by area. It’s like stretching when you yawn-if you’ve ever, for example raised your arms up and stretched them when you yawn? Like that kind of stretch-not to the point of pain, but to the point I do feel it. I hold the tightened stretch for a bit and then slowly start to relax the muscles while I’m doing a slow exhale starting with my feet and working my way back up again. I do this a few times. The key for me is SLOW.
My shoulders and neck are big “problem areas” for my muscles so they get an additional but kind of different “move:” Keeping my palms on the bed, I move my shoulders around slowly as if I’m rowing a boat. My neck responds to slow movements of my head on the pillow as if I’m making a “circle” on the pillow. Again, the key is *slow.*

I still have a hard time getting in touch with my body and often think I’m relaxed and so are my muscles-until I start stretching and relaxing the stretch and feel as if I’m actually “sinking” into the bed. When I feel that “sinking,” I know my muscles are truly relaxed. I tend to be pretty hyper so I have to remind myself to slow down my stretching-rushing through it never works. I’ve done this for so many years now it doesn’t feel like a “chore” to complete, just habit *because it works* for me!
I’m sure Yoga will give you some great tips as well. Lack of sleep-ugh. If it was occasional I’m sure I could power through but the chronically sleep-deprived me isn’t “safe” for human consumption! 😉

I read through her suggestions and decided to try stretching for waking up.  I used to set my alarm for as late as possible, after the alarm went off it was a mad dash to get ready and out the door.  I tried setting my alarm 1/2 hour earlier.  I get up briefly to take my medication then I go back to bed and lay there stretching.  I slow down my breathing and review what I need to accomplish that day.  I’ve done this for 2 mornings in a row. (Not a habit yet.)  I am amazed at how much more relaxed I am feeling starting my day.  I haven’t figured out the stretching at night since I am worried about disturbing my sleeping husband.  I do have a second alarm going off at my usual wake up time in case I fall back to sleep.  I just start with my arms or my legs stretching my body.  When I first started back into exercising with a membership to a dance studio from my daughter, I could barely reach my knees.  Please, honor your body, she reminded me every week.  Start where you are at.  Callenetics taught me that someone else’s stretch will often be greater than mine so work at my new best.  Don’t worry about matching the pictures or someone else – focus on stretching your body.  If you have past injuries that still cause misery, pay attention to what you are feeling.  I am a great believer in “No Pain is No Pain.”  I find that I am not nearly as patient as TW, my stretching probably takes less than 10 minutes.  I did find a video online to find a few sample poses.  Keep in mind that even the beginner videos I found were way beyond my ability when I started.  Baby step your way through anything new.  Also check with your doctor, my sister is under strict instructions from her physical therapist not to do yoga.  Stretching can be accomplished without forming any formal pose.  Start where you are at.  I also discovered that thinking about stretching each set of muscles helps to bring me into present time thinking.  Gives me transition time for waking up too.  TW does this for going to sleep.


Honor your body.

Start where you are at.

Slow movements.  (Does not count toward exercise time.)

Focus on how your body feels.

Enjoy your sleep or waking.

Here’s a couple of links to try out if you are wondering where to start.  Some of these poses are considered advanced.  One of the poses is triggering for me so I don’t use it, ever.  Yoga people are showing off what they can do and want you to send them money.  I am suggesting these as ideas if you are not sure where to get started.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~ Jack Kornfield



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