I’m a big fan of stretching. It costs nothing yet has so many benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, stretching can improve your joint range of motion, athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury. But those benefits aren’t why I like to stretch.
“Stretching can help tame tension both physically and mentally,” says an article on the health website, Prevention. That’s closer. I love the feeling of relaxation that stretching delivers.
Stretching is an invitation to spend quality time with myself – at home, on a hike or at a Cuddle Sanctuary workshop. It’s a solo cuddling practice because I do it with myself and for my own enjoyment. I also consider stretching a sensual activity.
I learned the concept of stretching as a sensual activity from one of my early yoga teachers – Bryan Kest. As one of more than fifty students sweating our butts off in his packed power yoga class, he would lead us into yoga postures and talk. Once inside of a deep stretch, Bryan would instruct us that our goal is to find that sweet spot where the stretch feels good but is never “too much.” That sweet spot is pleasure.
Finding pleasure from anything that looked like exercise was foreign to me. I come from a tradition of pushing too hard. I studied dance for years as a kid. In dance class, I learned that discipline was what mattered most. And so I worked hard. And then harder. The top priority in dance class was never health, balance or wellness. It was performance.
As an adult, this performance mentality served me very well. I could stick to things that I put my mind to. I could persevere when it got tough. But discipline without compassion and wisdom wasn’t healthy for me. I have found myself pushing too hard and making myself miserable in the process.
Over time, I’ve learned to find balance. Yes, I can still stress myself out about my business, but I can also back off and find my sweet spot.
And stretching has become very enjoyable. I sometimes moan happily from the pleasure of it. : – ) I would love for you to have the same experience. Here’s a video where I share with you two simple stretches I enjoy.
Want to stretch with us? Come to a Los Angeles Cuddle Sanctuary workshop. At the beginning we lead a section called “Body and Breath.” That’s when we can stretch together.
Care to share about Cuddle Sanctuary with the world? We’re on Yelp. Please review us!