Two helpful exercises

If you only had to do two...

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How we stretch and why it works so well

If you haven't seen this yet, learn about how to approach these exercises in two short minutes

The Spine Stretch

The Spine Stretch alleviates aches and pains by reducing muscular tension along the spine and helps to regulate organ function through its far reach throughout the nervous system.

Step One

This stretch becomes more profound with practice as you increase your ability to give way to the muscles you are unconsciously holding. The more you relax, the more  you feel.

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. If your hips are tight and your muscles have to grip to hold you in this position, sit on a pillow to relax your hip muscles as much as possible. Take a few deep breaths, lifting your shoulders as you inhale, relaxing them in time with your exhalation. Slowly drop your chin to your chest and allow the weight of your head to fully drop. Stay here for a good while, focusing only on what muscles you can relax more as you begin to take notice of areas throughout your body that are stretching. Trace the sensation through your body in your minds eye.

Step Two

IF you want more stretch (sometimes just dropping the chest is enough!), relax your back and chest into a C-curve, keeping your shoulders over your hips – don’t tip forwards or backwards. Notice where you feel sensation in your back…and where you may feel nothing at all. Focus only on relaxing every muscle you can find and allow the stretch to rise to the surface. Wherever you feel the stretch is where your muscles are tight. It can be different for each person.

Step Three

If after staying in the above relaxed state for a good minute or two, you are able to go further comfortably, let your body lean forward. Let it stop you where you naturally stop – do not reach for your ankles or PULL anything forward. Let yourself DROP into relaxation. When you are fully relaxed and aware of all the areas of your body that are slowly stretching out, lean a few inches to the left SLOWLY and then a few inches to the right, back and forth gently, observing the change in stretch as you move. When you are done, let you body drift back to centre – where this picture illustrates – and without lifting your head or straightening your back, let your hands gently push you back so your shoulders are over your hips, but your back is still relaxed, as in picture #2 above. THEN roll straight up through your spine, roll your shoulders and arms back, pressing through the shoulder blades, and relax.

Watch this spine stretch on video

You can also learn with Meredith's mother, Lilian Jarvis, the founder of Somatic Stretch®. Sign up for her newsletter and receive the Spine stretch for homeviewing.

Bolster Stretch

Opens the chest and addresses tensions running from the neck and shoulders down through the wrists and fingers.

Step One

Use a bolster, or roll up a pillow and blankets into a cylindrical form. The height should be enough to raise your torso from the floor, allowing your shoulders to fall back when lying down. It should also be long enough so that it runs from the base of your skull to your lower back. Lie on top of it so that it runs along your spine ­ making sure that it catches the base of your skull and lifts your head. Avoid letting your neck fall back over the end of the bolster, instead, let it be drawn along by the gentle pull under the base of your skull. Let your arms stretch out at shoulder height, and make your legs comfortable. After a minute or two, if you feel no stretch at all, move your arms up along the floor.

Step Two

The focus here is to teach your body how to let tensions drop until deeper sensation rises to the surface. By resting your arms higher than shoulder height the stretch sensation will increase, however, be sure that you have relaxed as much as you consciously can before doing this. Breathe into every muscle as the weight of your lifted shoulders stretches into tissues that normally remain constricted on a subconscious level. Stay in this position for a good five to ten minutes. As the muscles elongate you may feel numbness, tingling, or hot and cold sensations that radiate down your arms. If the sensations become too great, lower your arms by an inch or two until you’re comfortable.

A word of Attention...

How to roll out of the exercise

Because the neck lengthens and relaxes a great deal in this stretch, it is important to finish the exercise by rolling very gently to the side so that your neck does not contract from sudden movement.  Rest on your side for a couple of minutes before pushing yourself up off the floor, moving gently.

Give your side-body a stretch in whatever way feels enjoyable to you, once you sit up. 


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