I have been an active participant in Emily’s 12 Months of Bliss Challenge since the challenge began in June. Although I’ve been successful with most of the challenges, I struggled with August’s challenge of creating an inspiration board. As a result, I was extremely excited to see that the September challenge focused upon something that I already actively due which included stretching for 20 minutes a day. Participants were encouraged to stretch for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed. I started the month feeling I could be successful.
Stretching is an activity that I regularly do each morning and the one piece of homework I give every counseling client after our first session. As I am missing a vertebrae, stretching for me is a necessity. When I do not stretch, I immediately have stress settle in my shoulders. There was a point after my Mom’s death that I could not turn my head without severe pain and it took 3 massages (and constant heat) to get me to the point of having no pain.
I utilize a variety of stretches in the morning varying from yoga poses to basic head, shoulder and arm stretches. For examples, I encourage you to follow my Pinterest Board Stretch. I attempt to regularly update new stretching routines as it is best to continuously stretch muscles in new forms.
Stretching in the morning was easy as it was already part of my routine. However, stretching before bed became a challenge. Although I’ve attempted to establish a routine of turning off electronics by 9, I’ve often found myself rushing to get everything accomplished for the night and simply going to bed (so that I can get enough hours of sleep).
Becoming aware of my need to stop and breath before bed has been helpful.I’ve become aware of the areas of my body which hold the stress of the day including my hips and lower back. Additionally, taking this time has allowed me a few moments to think about my needs rather than what I need to focus upon the next day. Although there were evenings I did not do a complete 10 minutes, I did make it a point to do some form of stretching. One of my favorite poses has always been the pigeon yoga pose and if I did nothing else, I would spend a few moments in this stretch.
As I mentioned earlier, stretching is the one piece of homework that every counseling clients receives from me. The majority of clients upon first meeting do not stretch and are often reluctant when I share they will find benefit in it. Of those clients who are reluctant, most come back acknowledging they have been surprised at how good a few stretches have felt. Stretching is the free gift that you can give yourself.
How often do you stretch? Do you have a favorite stretch or yoga pose?
The September 12 Months of Bliss Challenge enhanced my month as it challenged me to expand a practice that I already participate in. This challenge is set to help participants develop self reflection, acceptance and love. Anyone can begin the challenge at any time as it is better to do a few challenges rather than none at all. Check out the past challenges and join in. I’m excited for October’s challenge of finding bliss through photography.