Fitness for dads – step 3

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Mindful Stretches for warrior flexibility

Fitness is a lot about staying well and keeping youthful.  In this series (check “fitness for dads – step 1” ) we have looked at the importance of role modeling in child rearing. In this article we shall look at keeping supple and at the same time you will get some well earned relaxation.  Do these exercises “mindfully” – more on that next article – which just means concentrate fully and be present in the moment. To enable this breathe exactly as told. Basically stretch while inhaling and holding breath and relax when you let your breath go.

Mindfulness

These types of stretches are not just for flexibility. Calm stretching techniques are used by warriors in all cultures including the secret “Hashishians” of legend, and the famous Chinese Shaolin monks. Mindful stretching helps unite mind and body to create calm alert minds.

Do this plan 3 x per week on the days between the bodyweight routine

Flexibility training: Stretches.

Flexibility is about keeping your muscles supple and preserving their range of motion. Have you ever seen how old people only make small movements and tend to hunch? This is due in part to their muscles shortening which restricts motion. Stretching helps to keep you flexible by lengthening your muscles.

Warm up: 5 Minutes

Use the same warm as the bodyweight routine in “fitness for dads – step 2” Begin by going for a 5 minute walk.

Rest: 1 Minute

Vertical spine stretch

Stand shoulder width apart with your feet pointing forwards as if on tracks.

Breathe in and slowly raise your arms as if you were pretending to flap your wings like a child. However keep going up until your arms are pointing straight up.  Time this with your in breath and feel your back stretching from your bottom to the top of your head. Your neck is straight and you look forward while pointing up to heaven. Hold your breath while feeling the stretch and then let it go as you relax your whole body. Just let your arms return to your sides.

Remember to breathe in while you move your arms up, hold while you stretch and let your breath and body go as you relax.

Repeat this 6 to 12 times

Hamstring and lower back stretch

Stand shoulder width apart with your feet pointing forwards as if on tracks.

Breathe in and let your tummy push forward arching your back as you do so and pointing your hands backwards, as if pointing at the floor just behind your heels.

Now all you are going to do is breathe out slowly as you bend forwards and let your hands hang down as if touching your toes.  Breathe in and out once again in this position and let yourself relax as you feel your lower back and hamstrings stretching. Relax a moment here.

Return to the start and repeat 6 to 12 times

Rotation of the spine stretch 

Keep your feet in the same place as you stand relaxed. Now raise your hands up in front of you, palms facing away.  Your hands should be at arm’s length in front of you as if pushing a wall.  Look at your thumbs at arm’s length in front of your face.

Now breathe in and keeping your feet still turn your body to look behind you. Just rotate from the waist in a twisting motion and keep your eyes on both thumbs. It doesn’t matter if you go left or right.

Hold your breath as you stretch your spine in a twisting motion.  Not too much, just gently!

Now breathe out as you relax and come back to the front.

Repeat this 4 times and then do the same exercises again, but turning the other way to look behind.

Remember hold your breath as you stretch to see behind and relax as you come to the front.

Do 4 repetitions each side

Shoulder and chest circle stretch

This is the last one and can be the most relaxing. Shoulder muscles get very restricted as we age and this helps with that. It also is good to just get a sense of where your balance is and as you become more relaxed you might feel the weight of your arms as they alter your centre of gravity.

Stand the same as before with your arms loose at your sides, just hanging comfortably.

 As you breathe in move your arms backwards, sideways and up at the same time as if making 2 huge circles in the air. If you know “butterfly stroke” from swimming it’s a similar motion, without the swimming.

The arms go out and sideways and the up and meet in the middle as you breathe in.  Now there is no holding of the breath, just let your breath go as your arms meet above your head and let them gently float down in front of your face and back to the sides. Breathe out all the way down and just keep going, lifting your arms on the in breath and letting them fall as you breathe out.

This gentle exercise will begin to give you a sense of being rocked slowly as you relax more and you may feel the weight moving from your heel to your toe as your arms travel down on front of your body.

Remember this is not just for you. Not only will these stretches increase mobility they will also help you to keep calm and even tempered.  Warriors of old needed to be calm and alert in the face of danger.  Calm men are good men who act with good intent and are slow to anger. Pass this quality on to your children