April 24, 2024


I Fall For Art

The Human Instinct to Stretch – Release Your Inner Cat

Each of us has a built-in solution to the impact of technology on our body (think of the software built into a computer). All of us have a built-in instinct to stretch. Your body wants to correct and improve its posture all the time because it wants to be efficient, just like a computer. Being efficient is the basis by which the body operates because it will use less energy that way.

If I were a fly on the wall in your life and watched you all day long, you are constantly exhibiting certain gestures. Not just out of nervousness or being self-conscious, but rather because your body is trying to correct the stiffness it is working against and return itself to proper posture. Your body will do it for you. Really, that is NO exaggeration. Each of us has a unique manner in which we constantly jerk, hitch, twitch, or otherwise move parts of our body about. We do this as an unconscious effort to straighten out our body. What you can do is take that intuitive, innate attempt at self alignment or self adjusting, that natural course-correction, and make it a conscious act. It is a beautiful thing.

Random movements are what activate the instinct to stretch, precisely what we don’t get as a result of technology. We first do this by learning how to shake our body. Shaking your body means exactly that, you learn to shake your body. Just like your pet stretches when it wakes up or gets out of the water, or your child when it was an infant would stretch and loosen up in the crib before moving about. Pets and small children do it automatically. As adults, life speeds up and takes over, and for any number of reasons, we fall out of the habit, the instinct becomes dormant.

The best way to do that is shaking your body, and it only takes a minute.

Shaking is a full body vibrational movement designed to shake off tension and stress like a swimmer shakes off water when exiting a pool. In a standing position, with both feet staying on the floor, first shake your legs back and forth independently, using quick and almost jerky movements. Add your hips, arms and shoulders, and then your head. Now you’re shaking all over. Pretend you’re shivering in the cold and exaggerate it. Shake your arms every which way – up, down, sideways and around. Shake out your hands really well. This is especially good when using the computer for long periods. Let your body take over. It will!

Next, stand still and then bounce your knees together up and down quickly in short, jerky movements like you are trying to push through the floor. You should feel vibration and trembling throughout your body. It is like experiencing an earthquake, only you’re creating it.

For variety with your body in motion, lift and shake one leg at a time. Hold it away from your body – in front, to the side and behind in various positions. Use your hand to hold a chair or brace against a wall if it’s hard keeping your balance. This will greatly enhance your balance and coordination, keep you loose, and help you shake off the stress of life.

After you learn how to shake your body, your body will take over, and at that point you are making the movement your own. Every time, every day, you will make shaking your own as you need to, depending on the circumstances. So you will not shake exactly like I shake or anybody else. You will shake how you shake. After doing it a few days it will become second nature, unconscious, (the instinct alive and taking over again). You’ll find yourself doing it for a few moments or even a minute or two at various times throughout the day. This is your body’s natural way of keeping itself loose. At that point, you will have made it your own.

Creating associations is a good way to first learn things. For example, if a person is dehydrated, I suggest they get into the habit of drinking water after going to the bathroom. Then they have to go to the bathroom again. Then they will drink more water, and ultimately the dehydration issue lessens. We all have these little routines we do all day long, like waiting in line, or pumping gas, that provide the perfect time for a few moments of loosening up the body. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store, I simply lift one foot off the ground slightly and stand there. This works my balance and coordination while I’m standing in line waiting my turn. Those few moments count, and we’re all standing in line at one time or another anyway. It is just a matter of a few seconds here and a few seconds there; it’s all cumulative.

I call these “randomsizes,” not exercises. It’s simply movement, directed by your body, that you do right on the spot for a few moments, often while doing something else. It doesn’t matter how you are dressed, doesn’t matter what’s going on, and it only takes a few moments to do it. It’s exactly how compound interest accumulates your financial savings. You just do a little bit here a little bit there and it all keeps adding up.

If you forget to do it for a day or two, so what? You just pick it back up. Because you will forget, at times, in the beginning until it becomes automatic; because you’re busy and life takes over.