Here we are in week 12 of the 100 day contortion challenge, only a few weeks left! I have practiced 4x per week, 2 hours per session, with 1 hour always focused on warming up and dynamic stretches from The Flexibility Challenge. An important factor to my success has been listening to my body and so I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on how to listen to your body more effectively.
With 100 days of stretching, the flexibility challenge forces us to understand our bodies in ways we may never have before. We must build awareness of strength, balance, and pliability to be able to conquer poses more easily and effortlessly. This takes time and patience but the more we listen to our bodies, the more we will understand.
How To Listen To Your Body When Stretching
- Clear Your Mind.
- Get comfortable; comfy clothes, clean environment, soothing sounds, good smells, and make sure your body is physically comfortable. If you start thinking about how hungry you are, or tired, sick, sad or any of the above you will not be able to fully relax and get comfortable. Learn what makes you comfortable by taking notes each session. For example I feel best stretching in the morning before I eat anything too heavy, and before it get’s too hot.
- Deep Breaths; deep breathing helps you to focus on just that, breathing. If you focus on breath it will be hard to focus on anything else but. Not to mention breath fuels the muscles for greatness 😉
- Habitual Routine; To more effectively clear your mind it is important to have a balanced routine with good form that can be executed from memory. I call this a habitual routine. For example think about when you drive to work perfectly without even having to think about it, it just comes naturally. This obviously takes time, and proper form must be apart of the habit to be most useful but once you have it down, you can clear your mind and focus more on the task at hand while deep breathing.
- Listen, or rather Feel, what your body is trying to tell you. Your body may tell you to adjust your arm a little to the left, it may say lengthen more, or even “stop, that doesn’t feel right”. You may get an inspired thought that you should strengthen more or work more on your left splits. If you’re tired, rest; if you’re hungry eat. Whatever it is, our bodies have a way of letting us know. By listening more, we start to trust ourselves and our bodies to know the right thing to do.
- Take Notes; I started sharing my contortion journey because I wanted a place to track my progress, write down how I was feeling and share what I newly discovered. Sometimes I find myself looking back and thinking ohh yeahhh I forgot about that, I need to try that again but with better form. I also take notes if I was too hot, or if I ate something that made me feel like superwoman. Always look at what is working and what is not working and make sure to do more of what is working.
- Take Video; Sometimes when listening isn’t enough, you can watch yourself on video and listen to your thoughts as you watch. If you know what you are doing wrong or where your form may be lacking, chances are next time you’re stretching you will come back to that thought and correct yourself.
I practiced for 2 hours, focusing on the warmup and dynamic stretches for the first hour.
One of the main poses of the day were side splits with my front foot flat up against the wall, or in my case the deck railing. I pushed up onto my toes with the back leg and tried to tuck my pelvis under. Then I worked on bringing my chest to the ground.
I also worked on bringing my leg over my shoulder. This stretch is good for learning the machine gun pole trick; really pretty much any split trick will benefit from that stretch.
Rest and recovery day with lots of good food. I made a raw vegan pizza, blueberry pie, and snacked on a bunch of fruits and veggies by themselves. I also made some really good lemon raspberry sweet tea!
Forearms and handstands were the theme of the day. I am a little disappointed in myself that I haven’t worked on my hollow body handstand as much as I should. I need to strengthen my core even more so, which let this be my reminder to get to it for the rest of the challenge!!
On day 74 I focused on contortion on the pole. One of my proudest moments was when I reached one of my pole goals… this trick right here!!
Hurray! But I will admit I had help getting into this position and I won’t be satisfied until I can do it all by myself, I’m still excited to even have the flexibility to be able to do it!
Beach Day!! I love stretching at the beach, it’s so peaceful. I must have done about 100 handstands in the water, which was tough with the little waves, but it’s good balance practice that’s for sure! I didn’t really focus too hard on contortion but rather wanted to see what I could do without going thorough my entire 2 hour routine.
Day 76 & 77
Rest and recovery day. I was extremely exhausted from the beach so I didn’t even want to move but I had to since I had to work. I made sure to eat really good and take care of myself so I can get back in the game for week 13!!