Flexibility

by Streen

As a Jedi, you must be able to bend in the wind, go with the flow, and roll with the punch. In other words, you should accept every situation and adapt to it. However, if you wish to master this, you must not only achieve it mentally and spiritually, but also physically. This involves the simple yet spiritual act of stretching. The following is a list of techniques for stretching the various parts of the body. After utilizing these, you may begin to notice that your mind setting will begin to change, very much like your physical flexibility will.

You must keep in mind that it is very possible to be hurt if done improperly. You must ease into the stretch. Take your time. Slowly feel the tension. A lot of people turn stretching into an aerobic exercise, but this does not have to be true. Stretching should be a quiet, spiritual act. A time of meditation. You don’t even have to break a sweat, or breathe abnormally. You should take deep breaths as you stretch.

If you’re a beginner, start by holding all positions for approximately 20 seconds, or however long you choose. Only push the stretch to where it is mildly uncomfortable. This is enough for the desired effect. You must have patience. As you progress with your flexibility, you should gradually increase the length of time you hold a position, up to 1 minute.

Stretching can be used as a cool down after exercise, or you can do it before you go to bed, which has been said to help you sleep. A complete session can take you about 15 or 20 minutes, depending on how long you hold certain stretches, and how many you do. What I’ve provided are some basic techniques to enhance your flexibility. These are certainly not all of them. With a little practice, you will no doubt find some techniques on your own.  Go through each stretch and find out for yourself what part of your body it is working on. Use this to get a better feel of your body.

Hurdler’s Stretch: This can be done a couple of ways. One is to sit with one leg extended in front of you, with your other foot up against the inside of your thigh, while you reach to touch your toes. Make sure to do so with both hands then switch legs and repeat. The other way to do this stretch is to have one leg extended in front, while the other is bent and brought behind you until your legs form a 90-degree angle with each other. This way is more difficult, and if it is very uncomfortable, then you should either decrease the angle of your legs, or push yourself off the ground slightly with your hands. As you progress, gradually, increase the angle.

Hamstring Stretch: Simply sit with both of your legs together and in front of you and reach for your toes. This can be simplified if you have a partner to push on your back. Or you can push on the floor behind you, bringing your chest toward your thighs. Another way similar to this is to lie flat on your back, and stick you legs straight out above you making them perpendicular with the rest of your body. Straighten your legs until they are either perfectly straight, or until you feel the tension. If need be, bring your legs closer to your body (with them straight still) making less of an angle to get more of stretch.

Groin Stretch: Sit with the bottoms of your feet pressed together, and bring them in toward you. Gently bring your knees closer to the floor to the slightly uncomfortable point. I’ve also heard this called the Butterfly, because of the “bouncing knee” technique, giving the impression of a fluttering butterfly. In this case, just hold your knees in one position for the duration. It may help to keep your feet placed firmly on the floor, and then bring yourself closer to them.

Thigh Stretch: Stand erect with your feet together. Then bring your foot behind you, and grab onto your ankle until you feel the pull in your thigh. Repeat for you other leg.

Hip Stretch: Do the same as the thigh stretch, except, bring your knee up in front of you and grab onto it, bringing it closer to your chest.

Side Stretch: Stand erect with your legs together, your arms at your sides. Raise your left arm above your head and extend it completely. Bring the lower part of your arm slightly behind your head and bend to the right. Do the same for the other side.

Lunging Stretch: Stand erect with your legs shoulder width apart. Bring your right leg out in front of you, far enough to bend toward it. Keep your left leg straight and bend your right leg until it is perpendicular with the floor. Let your left leg slide back until you feel tension. Hold your self in this position with your fists pushing on the ground to make sure you are looking straight ahead. Repeat for the other leg.

Split: This is no doubt one of the more difficult flexibility exercises, and should be done carefully. You can really hurt yourself with this. You can use a table or a chair to balance yourself, so stand in front of what you choose to use, and slowly spread your legs to their respective sides. Make sure to keep your torso facing forward, perpendicular with the floor. Ease down until you feel uncomfortable, but not too much.

If you have any questions about any of these techniques or how they should be done, feel free to contact me, just in case I didn’t describe these positions clearly enough. Be sure to do this at a regular pace, whether that is everyday, every other day, or once a week. You can lose your flexibility if you don’t stretch on a schedule.

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