Hello beautiful friends,
I recently did a survey of my clients asking them questions regarding their health and exercise. It was wonderful to hear of their concerns regarding ageing, their intentions and practices and their interests and desires for their longterm health. And I'm really happy about the trends that were revealed.
Over 90% of my clients consider posture to be of prime importance in their physical wellbeing which made me think that at least half of my work is done. And another great finding is that 67% of clients include stretching in their routines for up to twenty minutes at least four times per week.
As I pondered all the statistics in the light of what I'm passionate about and what I think is truly important to maintain our bodies in good health, there was a question that jumped into my mind: is twenty minutes adequate time to address the postural imbalances that I see in my clients on a daily basis in my clinic? Certainly I stretch for a lot longer than that.
So then I asked the question: how can I support my clients to stretch for longer or to make the time they spend more effective?
And then I had a revelation. I need to share with them the art of interoceptive perception.
"Interoception' is the fastest growing area in neuroscience and psychology for its impact on emotional wellbeing, helping people to regulate their emotions and alleviate the big issues of stress and anxiety. It's also a powerful tool to create change at a physical level.
Interoception is our ability to feel sensation in the body. It has a Yin quality about it. To develop interoception requires feeling and sensitivity, being still and deep listening. A lot of us have never been taught to 'listen' well to our bodies. And when we have postural imbalances the superficial muscles become tight, armouring us and diminishing our ability to perceive interoceptive information.
The importance of developing interoception is that it is the interface between the mind and body, between consciousness and energy. It's our pathway to mind-body connection and union.
The more consciousness we infuse into every cell of our body the more adaptable we become.
When we practice interoception as we exercise and stretch, we create the conditions for the greatest transformation. Tissues become more elastic and stronger faster. We move beyond our edges safely and effectively. Change happens with greater ease.
Interoception is one of the seven principles of my approach to posture and I naturally use it in all my exercise practices, remaining present in my body and feeling sensations as I move.
And unfortunately I know – from what my clients tell me in clinic – that many people are on their phones and impatiently waiting for their stretches to be over. So, here's an overview of how to use Interoception when you're stretching and instead, discover all the entertainment that's going on inside of you.
1/ Turn off your phone or other distractions.
2/ Create a quiet environment. If you have music playing ensure that's it's calm and gentle music that encourages you to relax.
3/ Ensure that your position is comfortable.
Find a mild stretch that allows you to take a deep breath with ease.
Stretching isn't meant to be a battle ground.
Approach your body with gentle curiosity.
4/ Consciously breathe rhythmically in and out.
Keep your breath flowing throughout.
5/ Direct your awareness to your body and the sensation(s) present in and around the area being stretched.
6/ Focus your mind on the feeling of the sensation, noticing its' shape, size, depth and texture.
7/ Feel for subtle movement within the sensation and in your body.
Your body may move more deeply into the pose or a different area of your body may relax or open.
7/ Relax into the sensation.
8/ Notice if it changes.
Stay in the pose for at least two minutes or until you feel a shift in the sensation. If you stretch for anything less than two minutes you may relax muscles temporarily but it does little to affect the resting tensions of your connective tissue.
Long stretches create adaptation in your connective tissues to bring you greater flexibility and freedom of movement.
When you're more practiced at feeling sensations it can become a fascinating journey to stretch. Sometimes the sensation of stretching can change dramatically as you hold the position, with your body going through multiple shifts. Sometimes you feel no apparent change or 'giving' in the tissues being stretched, however, when you resume your usual activities you'll notice that movement feels easier and less restricted. No time stretching is lost time.
Infusing interoception into your exercise routine addresses the 'how' of your practice helping you to move beyond your 'edges' safely and more effectively. The next consideration is 'what' stretches you're doing. Is what you're doing targeting the key areas of imbalance in your body for the best results?
Book an appointment today for a personal program just for you designed to create balanced posture for optimal body performance through the years.
Meanwhile I'm continuing to write my posture approach and the key postural exercises I recommend to offer you as an online program. So, stay tuned for website updates.
With love and JOY,