My last semester of undergrad, I took a course called “Relaxation Technique and Exercise.” Best. Course. Ever! Not just because we got to lie flat on mats in the near dark for 45 of the 55 minutes of class (no sleeping or you would, supposedly, fail). Rather it was how great it felt at the end of class.
Held in a old ballet studio, we spent the first 10 minutes warming up our muscles with slow activities (normally Tai Chi), then the next 20 minutes would be stretching. We learned techniques for partner stretches and proper forma for basic solo stretches. Finally, we were coached through progressive muscle relaxation, autogenics, and even, massage. Contrary to what you might think, after this class I always felt refreshed and wide awake. I felt lighter and limber.
Recently at work, after sitting at my desk for six hours straight, I was stiff, I was tired, and I had a headache. And it didn’t help that my hamstrings and calves were tight from my morning run and strength training session. What to do to get through the day? And that is when I remembered this course and the fundamental fit of relaxation and stretching. So, I took a few minutes (in the privacy of my office so that I didn’t weird out my co-workers) to go through a few easy stretches, and perform the progressive muscle relaxation. It helped.
It is amazing how much more awake we can feel after relaxing our body and stretching. Just think about the “good morning stretch” – you know the one where you stretch your arms high above your head, arch your back, shrug your shoulders; just like you were waking up in the morning. Add to that a few deep breathes, and you are waking up cells and getting oxygen to all those muscles. Or, if you are able to close your eyes, not to sleep, but just close your eyes and relax for 15 minutes, you will feel better. Trust me, you will feel more limber, more relaxed, more awake, and more productive. Just through a little fundamental fit.