Besides the obvious benefits of flexibility like preventing injury and improving your overall performance. Regularly challenging your flexibility leads to having an increased range of motion, meaning that the soft tissues surrounding your joints will grant you the heavenly passage of permitting gorgeous splits and back bends.
When muscles become shortened due to overuse or underuse, this dictates the way our joints move. When performing high kicks and choppers as a pole dancer and generally in the world of any dance and performance arts, the more flexible you are, the prettier things look.
But lets step aside from the vanity of flexibility and go internal. Let's go one on one with the self. In the process of increasing your flexibility, you have an internal dialogue that is being challenged. As soon as you feel that pain, you are groomed to STOP.
"OUCH, that is painful. Let's get out of this position," says your body. "Hurry up and finish this torturous, unnatural pulling of your joints and muscles," says your brain. Consequently, we cut our selves and our stretching sessions short. Sure, we can get in that split from time to time and as soon as its executed that sharp pain will dictate the duration of the stretch. What we fail to perceive is that sharp pain can actually be our best friend.
When we choose to truly increase our flexibility, we embrace that pain and find it liberating. That pain becomes our growth monitor and we then in turn seek to understand that pain. We start to internally investigate which muscle fiber is tight, and in what position can we shift to alleviate this tension. As we begin to embrace the pain that comes with our flexibility, we find grace in our movements.
What are some things to help you trick your mind and body submerge focus inwards towards increasing your magnificent stretching abilities? Below are five awesome strategies.
1. Pick Sensual Tunes
Dedicate a playlist full of sensual songs that make you feel sexy. Let it get you into a playful mood and dedicate at least 25 minutes. Thats about 5 or 6 songs, my absolute favorites are Justin Bieber - Hold on Tight, Usher - Daddy's Home, Beyonce - Dance For You, and my current favorite is my the legendary Britney Spears Ft. Tisane - Slumber Party.
2. Go Slow
This is not a race to see who can throw their legs back behind their heads first. This is a competition between who you were during your workout to who you will be after this stretch session. Take your time and don't overstrain your muscles, don't feel rushed or allow your ego to convince you need to be better then what your prepared to be. That is how injuries happen.
3. Breathe and Be Aware
Breath is a beautiful thing. Awareness is even prettier. Both are not one in the same because you can breathe without being aware. Many of us are doing that as we speak! But when I mention awareness while breathing, I mean really try to imagine that breath traveling through your body and nourishing your organs with the sweet oxygen molecules of Mother Earth. You will be more engaged in the movements and the act in itself will transport you to a realm of body and mind connection that is stronger then your office's Wi-Fi.
4. Think Of It As A New Addiction
So do you remember a time when you wanted to make a massive life change and started this new and awesome habit of drinking water or taking supplements or using sheet masks? I don't know if you could relate but I was obsessed and addicted to sheet masks because of the amazing benefits I saw in my complexion. I was hooked! Anyway, thats how you should feel about stretching and increasing your flexibility. In doing so, you will operate with a sense of excited-ness (no that wasn't a word but it should be!) versus engaging in an act of chore. You see the difference? Better yet, feel the difference?
5. Make It Into A Dance
Ahh... Yes. Your playlist has been chosen and you've been equipped with tips and breathing techniques. Combine it all into a small routine, mini showcase. Lay on your back, do side kicks and hold your stretch to a verse. Move around and alternate sides based on the base and the melody. In no time your stretch session will be over and you will have not only challenged your flexibility but also have spiced up your energy! Go you!