As I begin to wake up, my mind starts zipping from one thought /plan / idea to the next. Already?!
Then I choose. To focus on love, loving thoughts.
First loving thought: Do your first good HaBit of the day! Worlds Easiest stretch.
I occurs to me that there's another choice - do I "do it Right" Or maybe "get it done" , "check that one off the list"...?
None of those feel particularly loving. I think about why I'm doing it.
I love my body - I choose that loving thought, amongst the many others coming up.
I'm grateful that my body is healthy.
Then I notice how it feels- at first I'm stretching, but the 'stretched' muscles feel contorted - almost like they're holding their breath.
So I breath into them
Let them soften, lengthen, release.
Now I feel more present, in the moment, in my lower back.
Like a searchlight I move my awareness down to my butt - my 'not as perky as it used to be' butt, and just smile.
It's still a nice butt, I decide, without overthinking it.
Continue scanning the back of my thighs - hamstrings. Yes, feels good.
I become aware of my arms around my bent legs.
Hugging me. I like that.
One thing that's nice about "the worlds easiest stretch", is that if you do it when you first start waking up, it's easier to just enjoy it, experience it, without a lot of self talk or distractions.
Maybe I can call it, 'the world's easiest way to momentary Zen-Master-ness"...
What It Does
Because we stand upright - and bend, and twist, etc., our low back muscles are working had all the time. Imagine if you had to balance a big rectangular box from it's small end, with things hanging off the sides, on your hands and keep it upright! Plus, it's heavy! That would be a LOT of work.
It's no wonder that our low backs are chronically tight, and susceptible to having serious pain from time to time!
What the stretch does, is allow the muscle fibers to 'unlock' from the tension/contraction. The stretch teaches the low back muscles a new habit - to RELEASE. And just like any habit, it's got to be practiced over and over to overcome the old habit - in this case of being really tight!
Also, when the low back is released, our range of motion, balance and strength can improve.
Impact on Stress
Both stress and pain create a vicious cycle.
When your back hurts, the muscles tighten and create more pain which makes them tight... and on and on. This is why a simple stretch like this can interrupt the pain cycle to also reduce pain.
Similarly, when we're stressing out, we see all the things we need to do, which stresses us out --- ad infinitum...
And then! stress and pain create and accelerate the vicious cycles!
The back contains a variety of muscles that are known to tense up under stress.
Your back hurts, so you stress out about that too and your vicious cycle just got even more vicious!
Luckily, the reverse is also true. If we reduce our stress and/or our back pain, both problems can be reduced.
As if that weren't enough: