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Chapter 5. Acquiring Body Wisdom > The Importance of Stretching Your Muscles

The Importance of Stretching Your Muscles

As noted earlier, an intrinsic part of the fight-or-flight response is muscle tension. When muscles tighten, they also shorten. One way to reverse the fight-or-flight response is to lengthen your muscles. This is accomplished quite simply by stretching the muscles. Our goal here is not to provide a comprehensive manual on stretching exercises, but we would like to teach you several critical stretches that can help reduce or prevent tension headaches and mention some guidelines for stretching intuitively.

Intuitive Stretching

As you cultivate body awareness and relaxation, you will notice an urge to stretch your body in various ways. Many people notice that yawning is accompanied by an almost instinctual urge to lean back and extend one's arms. We are very aware of the need to stretch after sitting in a car or at a desk for a prolonged period of time. Anyone who has dogs or cats can watch them stretch when they awaken or when they anticipate they will go for a walk. While it is a good idea to read a manual on stretching or to take a yoga class to learn a specific routine, your body is actually a very good guide to this procedure if you pay attention to it. After all, someone figured this stuff out without referring to a textbook. Nor has anyone found the family dog curled up in front of the fireplace with an autographed copy of The Auto-biography of a Yogi. This information is inside you. The following are guidelines for intuitive stretching:


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