If Nothing Else, Just Stretch!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Fridays are the best, aren’t they? With a promise of two days of late sleep-ins, they are a much needed respite from the rest of the week and early-morning online schooling. Can’t wait to send kids to schools again, post vaccination of course!

These days, yoga has become a way of life and Instagram a source of all sorts of guidance as well as inspiration. Seeing other people doing what they love doing, despite all odds, is a great motivation, be it online or the people I see/know.

While doing yoga, half the time goes into warm-ups and the rest into the flow which if you ask me is mostly stretching and holding those stretches. Everyday, I try to stretch a little more, bend a little more, hold a little more…and breathe through it all – that’s what it is for me. Of course, yoga includes a lot more than just stretching…more than physical postures…but stretch you will, in any case!

Yoga or not, it is important to stretch a little everyday. Even if for 15-20 minutes, even if you don’t have time and especially then! When you have no time or energy for any sort of physical activity, stretch is the least one could do.

I used to do stretching post workouts in gym also. However, as I started building muscles (and getting stronger!), I knew I didn’t want to lose my flexibility in the process and I found yoga the best remedy to maintain it. I won’t lie, I started for balance and flexibility however discovered much more along the way! Thus started the next phase of my fitness journey which is an equal combination of gym and yoga both. Then came meditation but that is unfortunately still very irregular.

Why Stretch?

  • To improve flexibility and for better joint/muscle movement
  • Posture correction
  • Prevention of injuries or reducing risk of injuries
  • Reduced muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Relieving post exercise aches/DOMS
  • To improve physical performance
  • To increase blood circulation
  • Decrease the risk of low-back pain
  • For stress relief
  • For calming benefits

A Myth

Believe it or not, stretching is not necessarily a warm-up activity. A warm –up is much advised before you stretch as stretching with cold muscles can lead to injury. Best to start stretching after a bit of warm-up.

The Ideal Way To Stretch

Whether plain stretching or stretching before a workout, best would be to take a short jog to warm up the muscles and then stretch. One can follow up with a workout or any physical activity post that.

In gym, that is why we do cross trainer or treadmill the first thing – to warm up. In Yoga, we do sukshma vyayama (simple joint movements) before we start the stretches and other asanas.

Keep In Mind

  • One can focus on sore or tight muscles first while stretching so they become loose and less rigid with the increased blood flow, if needed
  • Swift movements or bouncing should be avoided to prevent injuries
  • Whether you hold your stretches or do them in sets is up to you and your fitness level. It is always better to start with a short hold and less sets and then gradually increase both
  • Do not overwork an injured muscle if you are already injured

In The End

Stretching is a great way to take a mini-break from a hectic day or a desk-job, to recharge and strengthen you body and mind. All you need to do is to take 20-30 minutes everyday for just stretching if nothing else. Try doing it for 3 days a week at least. In case you wish to increase the flexibility or range of motion, you need to be more regular with stretching.

However, make sue you are stretching right. Stretching incorrectly or making incorrect movements can be harmful. Remember to do everything slowly and gradually.

I hope you found today’s post useful. Do share around if you did. Join me on Instagram on the link below for lots of tips, info and motivation.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Bruises With Yoga

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Now that we all have adapted to our new life bound to indoors, have you managed to start something new or something that was long due? I have picked up my guitar after a break of 2 years and though I have forgotten it all, am taking baby steps again 😊.

Am regular with Yoga though and I have mixed it up with some body-weight exercises to make it fun and challenging. I miss deadlifts and pull-ups at the gym, badly though.

As I said a couple of days back in my Instagram story (The Yoga Myths Series), Yoga is as gentle as you want and as challenging as you can! It is indeed a myth that Yoga is just stretching and twisting. It is much, much more even if I leave the meditation/spiritual side of it completely out. Holding a pose for 30-60 seconds takes an immense amount of strength and the slower you go, the harder it gets. And some intermediate/advance level poses challenge your limits!

Just like a good work-out in gym!

Then, why does no one talk about DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after Yoga? This appears after 12-48 hours and goes away on its own, mostly. The level of this soreness would depend upon the kind of yoga practice you did and its duration, frequency etc. To understand DOMS better, do read this previous post here.

Maybe Yoga doesn’t build pumped-up muscles like a gym-workout but the microscopic tears are real. The muscles repair and build, just like any other challenging workout. The muscle tears onset body’s inflammatory response, expands the blood vessels and thus, allows more blood to flow to the injured area, for repair work to begin.

With this repair work on a regular basis, the body starts growing stronger. Just like any good work-out! Below is the picture of my yoga-bruise from two days back. It’s actually a tear which has turned blue. Came out of nowhere!

Initially and as a beginner, the low-impact, slow movements and mild stretching might seem gentle and the post-yoga soreness would come as a surprise. What would also surprise in the beginning is the presence of muscles that you never even were aware of!

With due time and regular practice, it starts becoming easier and one can move to the next level.

If you ask me, this soreness is good 😊. It means you are on the road to becoming stronger and soon you would see improved performance and muscle growth. However, with Yoga, ‘soon‘ could be a little longer than a gym-workout. The key as anything, is persistence! In whatever you choose to do.

How To Reduce DOMS after Yoga (and any other challenging physical activity)

  • Get good rest and sleep
  • Be slow and steady. Move on to the next level only when you are comfortable with the current one
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Yoga practices in general, do not require caffeine or other supplements per say. Neither before the practice, nor afterwards however, a balanced diet is crucial
  • Foam rollers can be used however I personally have never used these – neither in gym nor after yoga
  • Take care of your diet and make sure you get enough proteins (though not as much as a gym-workout) for muscle repair
  • Don’t skip the next work-out. The mild stretching would only help. However, don’t over-stretch till you are better
  • Unless the pain is severe, avoid taking pain-killers. In that case, better see your yoga-trainer, physiotherapist or a doctor
  • Taking a warm bath helps me with DOMS, be it post-gym or post-yoga. Try it if you want.

That’s it for today. Do start with some basic stretches or a basic fitness regime at home now so that tomorrow when this is all over and behind us, you are already ready for the next level. This pandemic has already taught us how important ‘Health and Fitness’ is.

Need to stay motivated, join me on Instagram here:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health and Peace