Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sequential Stretching

As I sit here and write this, I feel amazing in my physical body; definitely possessing heightened grace and ease, as Kit often refers to the primary objective of Stretch Therapy - due to the stretches I did this evening (and more importantly, the style in which I did the stretching this evening).

The primary thing that lead to this state in my body (besides the stretching itself!) was a desire to test, explore and play with something I've been contemplating for quite some time - sequencing.  More specifically sequencing of Stretch Therapy style tissue re-modelling and brain re-mapping stretches; strengthen exercises and neural re-patterning techniques - (hopefully) leading to positive plasticity and permanent unlocking of restricted and unaware areas. 

My general questions are as follows:
• How to increase the regularity of 'breakthrough sessions' without lowering the safety aspect of the system?
 • How to use the stretches and strength/re-patterning work to permanently unlock certain common/uncommon tension patterns in the body.
 • Which stretches follow on well from each other (so pose counter-pose is common; but I'm thinking longer chains of stretches and stretches followed by strength or preceeded by mobility, etc.,)?
 • Use of 'enhancers' --> Breathing enhancers; spiral enhancers; partners; bolsters; other aids; etc.
 • Sequencing moves to induce group relaxation (when teaching classes) or group excitation - and playing with that balance to help with the first point (increase the incidence of 'peak' stretching experiences within the parameters of safety, efficiency and effectiveness).

I have two 'chain-stretches', or sequences of stretches and PNF contractions, that I used tonight that are primarily responsible for my current deep well-being state (In-joke for Kit). (This is somewhat similar to vinyasa style asana practice).  

I am going to film both of them, soon.  I'll describe one full sequence now (just in case someone reading this is familiar with the Stretch Therapy system, or know what I'm talking about and wants to try).

Chain-Stretch Lunge I 
• Start in a basic lunge position; both hands inside of the front knee.  Some basic limbering (exploring hip flexor tension of the day, moving partially into a TFL stretch position).

• Now, from the basic lunge position; do a contract-relax style contraction with the front leg - trying to claw the heel and mid-foot through the earth, like a chicken clawing at the ground (hamstrings/adductors/glutes do work).  Medium intensity, concentrating on getting the tightest band of tissue to contract, more than on max intensity. ~ 10 seconds.

• Press the knee of the bent from leg out into the arm (hug knee to provide resistance) ~10 seconds.  Block knee with arm (two positions available..too hard to describe one, will video) ~ 10seconds.

• Standard Hip Flexor contraction - at your desired intensity for about 10 - 20 seconds.  I suggest medium, but focused 20 second C/R. 

• 'Opening up the arm to the roof' - so, if the left leg is back, you will balance on the left arm and the right arm will reach up to the ceiling as you turn the trunk to the right.  Elevate back knee ~ 1-3 inches, then contract-relax the front leg (again like a chicken) through the floor.  Do a stronger and longer contraction this time. Change from natural (nasal belly) breathing, to reverse breathing (abs in on inhale; breathe up into ribcage, slowly and strongly).  Rotate further around a few times.  The go back to basic, but deeper, lunge position.

• Fold down to your elbows in the lunge (or forehead on ground, if you can).  Do a final, strong front leg clawing (extending..well, knee flexion + hip extension) contraction between 10 and 25 seconds.  Hold the final position for 5 - 8 breaths done natural breathing method as slow as you can.

Should take 8-10 minutes.  Done at a slow, deliberate simmer

The second chain stretch I did was a modified alchemical version of the advanced piriformis exercise from the Stretch Therapy syllabus.

I'm really looking forward to getting these out there in video format, for people to play around with and report back.  Hopefully you end up feeling as good as I do now.  I'm off to float to bed, now.  (Stretching may or may not grant power of levitation).  

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