I've been doing yin yoga for a while now and I love it. (Yin yoga is generally floor poses where the muscle is not active, you instead focus on stretching the connective tissue). But yesterday I was reading about a different way to stretch and I decided to add that to my yin practice this morning to see what would happen...
I actually discovered Bob Cooley's book, The Genius of Flexibility, a few years ago browsing the book section at Natural Grocer's. He says we should be contracting our muscles when we stretch... the way a dog or cat does.
Watch them stretch, Bob says. They reach forward with their paws, arch their back, then pull backward and contract the same muscles they were elongating by reaching forward.
I tried it back then and it works, but I had forgot about it till I read an article in O Magazine about Resistance Flexibility.
Legs outstretched in front of me I reached out to touch my toes. Found my edge. Fine. But then I contracted my quads and resisted against the floor and hinged forward a couple more inches. Nice. And for every pose thereafter, I found a way to contract, or resist. (Using yoga blocks to resist against in some of my poses was great.)
The article went on to talk about "shredding your fascia"...
Fascia is "a very fibrous kind of cellophane that covers your muscles. It can get thick and lock muscles in when they're aching to move." Whoa... not cool. I want to shred it!
To read the article in full check out January's O Magazine (Push Me, Pull You!). And looks like Bob has a DVD so I'll have to check that out, too.
Clementine happily practiced Shavasana pose on her little doggie mat in front of my fake fire then entire time. She had already gotten her morning stretches in.