We all know the phrase, “I’m stretching myself too thin.” As college students, it’s sometimes hard to comprehend all that we’re actually doing and accomplishing in a day while fully wrapped up in papers, studying, parties, clubs, interviews, applications, volunteering, office hours, and hey, um, don’t forget sleeping, eating, and breathing! Rinse. Repeat.
And I say, it’s about time that we “stretch ourselves whole” again.
So let’s chat about physical fitness for a minute. Ever since I came to college and am no longer a part of team sports like I was in high school, I’ve become very phase-y. First, there was the running phase. That wore out. Next was the strength training YouTube videos. That quickly ran its course as well. I’ll always have dancing and walking in my pocket because to me, I never feel like I consciously have to be aware that I’m “working out.” We are all different beings, though. So whatever your exercise plan is, you do you.
But one thing we should have in common is stretching. Stretching is in a category of its own. It’s like tea in physical form. It can warm your muscles and your central system, while relaxing you to a calm. The heat from the mug can sometimes be painful to touch, but the more you adapt to its fire, you find it comforting and embrace it. It’s good any time, morning, noon, night, when you’re sick, when you’re sad, when you’re cold, when you’re stressed, when you’re chill, when you’re in pain, when you’re bored, when you’re among friends.
Okay, enough of the tea metaphor, you get my point. I’m not even talking about hot vinyasa yoga, I’m talking basic gym class stretches. Taking a moment to rub out the kinks of the day, to drink in the quiet, to listen to how your body feels and connect mind to body. We force our body to work so hard through the day. Stretching is your way of giving back to it. It’s the best non-vocal way of saying, “Thanks” (which is probably better – because can the body actually hear itself talking to itself? Philosophers, physiologists? What’s your stance on this?)
Now, you’re probably thinking, “What does stretching have to do with art?” Stretching is a practice of stimulating both mind and body at the same time, just like painting, writing, acting, dance – only at a slower pace. The carpet or mat you stretch on is an open canvas where you can let your mind wander, explore your imagination and discover yourself. It’s active, just like all types of art. There’s no correct way of doing a stretch. You listen to your own limits, follow your own desires. It’s recommended to open the window, breathe in the fresh air, scratch the carpet, draw with your fingers as if you were carving imaginary loops into the ground below you, hum to yourself, transport yourself to a far-off sandy beach in your mind while traveling deep into your heart. The more senses you can engage while stretching, the better. Stretching is your time to be positive, to be graceful. Allow yourself to be surprised. In the time that you could watch a V-Sauce video, you could also generate waves of positivity and possibility within your body.
Trust me, even through this hippy-dippiness, begin and end your day with a quick stretch. You know how satisfied you feel after you sneeze or yawn? Stretching is like a slow-motion form of your body yawning. You will love how you feel and you will find that joy steeped throughout your day [okay, tea jokes are now done!]
Best wishes for this final exams week, everyone!
P.S. Here are some of my favorite stretching videos on the InterWeb (if you know any others, please share them in the Comments below!!!)