The mental benefits of stretching are mind-bending.
After a long day of sitting at a desk or standing on our feet, a nice deep stretch always feels amazing on sore muscles. But how about a sore mind?
When we stretch, our bodies release feel-good endorphins that help boost our mood.
Furthermore, bending and twisting allows our blood to circulate more freely, improving the flow of blood to our muscles and brain. This clear route for oxygen (plus all those feel-good hormones mentioned earlier) can contribute to a clearer mind and a more peaceful mood.
Beyond the chemical component, stretching is a great way to bring some pause into your day and check-in with yourself. Have you ever had a stressful morning and realized you’re sitting with your ears up to your shoulders? Or known a friend was feeling sad just by a look on their face? It’s no secret that our mental state reflect on our body language. But something you might not realize is that your body language can reflect on your mind. According to Karena Wu, a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy “You can definitely hold emotional stress in your muscle tissues”. By releasing tension in the body through movement, we can release some tension from our minds.
Twisting ourselves into unusual positions is also an excellent way to strengthen our awareness and practice mind-body connection. This connection is slowly built through every session, as we notice the sensations that each movement creates: “How does this feel? What else is going on in my body? How about in my mind?” Mindfulness is a powerful skill to have, and you’ll see its benefits during, and long after, your movement practice. This connection has long been studied in Yoga, a spiritual discipline that aims to bring harmony to the body and mind. While what we do at Flexibility with Vera is not Yoga, it is important to recognize that our understanding of the connection between mind, body and breath can be largely attributed to this discipline.
So go ahead, take some time out of your day to breathe, connect with your body, and melt away some of that residual daily stress. You’ll not only improve your flexibility skills, but maybe your mental health, too!