We continue our series of energy boosting tips by uncovering one of the secrets behind the practice of yoga. You can enjoy the benefits of this secret whether you take a formal yoga class or not.
The secret action we’re talking about in yoga is stretching. How does stretching relate to energy?
First of all, tight muscles and connective tissue restrict the flow of blood, lymph fluid, and qi (“chee” life energy). Blood carries oxygen to your cells. Lymph fluid carries nutrients to your bloodstream and waste away from your cells while also circulating immune system boosting lymphocytes to attack cellular pathogens. Qi is subtle life energy that circulates along pathways through your connective tissue. When any of these processes are restricted you feel lethargic because you are receiving less vital energy and you are clogging up with cellular toxins.
Stretching lengthens your muscles and connective tissue. It releases tension and facilitates the flow of blood, lymph, and qi. When these elements flow more freely you feel as if you are infused with new life.
To stretch effectively, it’s important that your muscles and connective tissue are warm from movement or exercise. Don’t stretch cold. It’s also important to include stretches for all major muscle groups so that you balance muscle tension around all joints. Stretch to the point of tension but not pain. To get the most out of stretching, imagine that you are breathing into the muscles that you are stretching. When you inhale, imagine that the muscles you are stretching are filling up with air. As you exhale, reach a bit farther into your stretch and imagine that your muscles are emptying out.
Make it a habit to stretch after any and all physical activities. Stretching initiates recovery and repair in your body by boosting circulation, inducing relaxation, and improving your immune response. It even boosts your brain function. To maximize your health and energy include aerobic exercise and stretching as part of your daily routine.