Yoga-Stretching with Calmness – Charleston

Yoga-charleston-scArts For Fitness have incorporated many arts and every so often our Martial Arts students stop me to ask on how to get a better stretch as in Hanumanasana-Splits pose or better balance. I have often encouraged the practice of yoga to our warriors to minimize any injuries, but is excited to share this insightful article from Dr. Cole. I had the pleasure of meeting Roger at a yoga conference, a lifetime Iyengar Yoga practitioner and an accomplished scientist.

Five Ways to Calm the Stretch Reflex

Cautions: Never force. Learn safe alignment and apply it while practicing. Practice under the guidance of a competent instructor. If you have a medical condition, get an OK from a health professional before practicing.

Adaptation Method – Hold still and wait until nerves quiet

1. Create very mild, pleasant stretch.

2. Hold perfectly still until sensation of stretch fades or disappears.

3. Slowly move deeper into pose, just enough to reinstate same mild, pleasant stretch.

4. Repeat.

Reciprocal inhibition – Contract antagonist muscles

1. Create moderate stretch.

2. Strongly contract muscle group that opposes stretching muscle without moving bones at all (for example, if stretching hamstrings contract quadriceps without straightening knees even the tiniest bit more).

3. You should feel release in stretching muscle; if so move deeper into pose.

4. Repeat.

PNF – Contract, then release stretching muscle

1. Create a strong stretch.

2. Strongly contract the muscle that is stretching and hold for 5 to 30 seconds.

3. Stop contracting stretching muscle.

4. You should feel release in stretching muscle; if so move deeper into pose.

5. Repeat.

Controlled Release – Contract both stretching muscles and antagonists

1. Create moderate stretch.

2. Contract both stretching muscle and muscle(s) that oppose stretching muscle at the same time (for example, if stretching iliopsoas contract iliopsoas and gluteus maximus simultaneously).

3. Maintaining contraction of stretching muscle, increase contraction of opposing muscle(s) and use it to pull bones deeper into pose. You should feel release in stretching muscle as you do this.

4. Repeat

Anticipatory Release – Consciously let go before stretch occurs

1. Move smoothly part way into pose, stopping when you feel stretch.

2. Make mental image or “map” of all the places you feel stretch.

3. Come part way out of pose, just enough to make sensation of stretch disappear.

4. Use mental map to anticipate where stretch will occur when you re-enter pose.

5. Smoothly re-enter pose, consciously letting got of tight areas before they stretch again. Stop when you feel stretch, which may occur in new places or same places.

6. Make a new mental map of where you feel stretch, and repeat steps 3-6.

Roger Cole, Five Ways to Calm the Stretch Reflex

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