Stretching provides excellent physical and mental preparation for meditation. Make your sessions more productive and comfortable by working on your flexibility. You’ll be able to sit longer and more comfortably. See what the perfect combination of stretching and meditation can do for your total well-being.
Physical Benefits of Stretching
1. Sit more comfortably. A limber body adjusts more easily to any pose. You’ll be able to relax on a chair or cushion.
2. Enhance your posture. Slumping in front of a computer or TV shortens and tightens your muscles. Stretching exercises will show you how to correct your alignment and carry your body weight more efficiently. You’ll look better and be protected from many common injuries.
3. Breathe more effectively. Controlling your breath while stretching will teach you how to breathe slower and deeper. Stretching also revs up your circulation. Let the blood and oxygen reach every part of your body.
4. Extend your sessions. Even a few minutes of meditation can produce dramatic results. However, the most valuable realizations often come from being able to sit for longer periods of time.
Mental Benefits of Stretching
1. Shift your attention inwards. Stretching promotes mindfulness. You notice your body and breathing. External cares drop away.
2. Heighten your awareness. Follow that inward path. You’ll find that your intuition grows stronger, while discovering greater self-knowledge.
3. Boost your energy levels. You’ve probably noticed that even small body movements can help you wake up when you start to drift off during a boring meeting. A long stretch is an ideal way to increase the energy flow throughout your body.
4. Reduce distractions. Put off worrying about the broken dishwasher or your child’s report card. You’ll see faster results from stretching when you engage both your body and mind.
5. Sharpen your concentration. Since stretching boosts your concentration, you can apply that ability to your meditation session and all other daily activities. Set a goal that you can focus on while meditating. See how long you can watch your breath. Bring your attention back each time you catch it drifting away.
Sample Stretches to Help Meditation
1. Practice sitting poses. The traditional lotus position awakens your energy level and quiets your mind. If you’re just starting out, a half lotus or easy sitting pose will generate some of the same benefits.
2. Twist around. Twisting from the waist squeezes out toxins. It helps your circulatory system and internal organs function better.
3. Strengthen your core muscles. Many stretches invigorate muscles in your back and abdomen. You’ll lower your risk of back pain and have more energy for meditation and daily tasks. Start each morning with a series of sun salutations.
4. Release neck tension. Sitting and sleeping in awkward positions can create chronic neck troubles. If you have difficulty lowering your head to your chest, gentle head rolls and other movements can put things back on track.
5. Soothe your shoulders. Similarly, many people get in the habit of keeping their shoulders raised. Try holding light weights in your hands to lower your shoulders. Aim to duplicate that feeling all day.
6. Wiggle your toes. You might be surprised to discover how much your toes can move once you give them a break from being squeezed into shoes all day. Curling and spreading your toes will cut down on foot pain and increase your balance.
Recharge your meditation practice by training for flexibility. Increasing your range of motion reduces stress and muscle soreness. You’ll feel more supple and peaceful during your meditation sessions and in the hours in between.