Stretching for beginners
To keep your mind and body in the best possible shape, it is important to exercise both.
Meditation and mindfulness are an effective way to help keep our minds healthy. And when it comes to our bodies, a stretching routine is a great place to start. Practicing them together is how we can achieve a full mind-body workout to improve our overall health and well-being.
Meditation and stretching have a lot in common — both encourage movement and flow throughout our bodies; both achieve the best results when we are present in the moment; and both are at their most effective when they become part of our daily routine.
Headspace has introduced Move Mode with workouts led by Olympians Kim Glass and Leon Taylor, and guided meditations led by co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. These in-app exercises help to harmonize our bodies and minds.
Benefits of stretching include helping us limber up for sports or recover afterwards, improve balance, increase flexibility, and it can also help relieve joint and muscle pain.
Headspace’s new Move Mode is a good place to begin, as we look at ways to start stretching. In the video below, Kim, a former Team USA volleyball star, starts by walking us through some beginner stretches for flexibility as part of a guided workout.
On the Headspace app, Leon, a former Olympic diver, also offers guided stretching advice for mobility, stability, and strength. Get Moving With Leon is a confidence-boosting, four-week starter course with advice on stretching for beginners, mindful cardio sessions and guided meditations.
There are wake-up workouts with great flexibility exercises for beginners to help you start the day awake and alert, and wind-down workouts with basic stretches to release the day’s stress.
Before we begin our stretching workout, we should think about what our mind is doing while we exercise our bodies. Combining physical and mental exercises throughout our daily lives can be mutually beneficial, and this is what Move Mode is all about.
On the Meet Your Trainers video in the Headspace app, trainer Kim says: “I want people to leave the app feeling more empowered, more in control. I want them to feel really proud of what they have just accomplished. I want them to feel like they can tackle anything that is presented to them.”
When practiced separately from your exercise regime, meditation makes you more focused, which can help physical training and improve performance. But when you combine the two and bring awareness to your body as you work on your fitness, you become mentally connected to your physical movement, making your workout more efficient.
Trainer Leon says, “It’s a wonderful way of getting more out of the time you are spending doing something. Can you come out not just improving stability, mobility, strength – but can you come out calmer, more confident, more comfortable, more peaceful? The answer is yes, and that’s what this course is about.”
Headspace's NBA White Paper also highlights the benefits of meditation for athletes. Using Headspace has been shown to improve focus by 14 percent in just ten days. It also helps to decrease heart rate and meditation training can cause a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity.
To get the maximum benefit from your beginner flexibility routine or more advanced training, we should try to apply these five components of mindful exercise to help us tune into our bodies.
Our mental intention and the awareness we bring to it impacts how effective our exercise will be. To practice mindful stretching, we should consider our intention before we begin — including our motivation to stretch and our commitment to it.
Our muscles need oxygen to move. Focus on breathing steadily for a balanced and energizing full-body stretch routine.
Rhythm is vital, and we should recognize the tempo of each exercise. Use this rhythm to give each stretch a natural, flowing and easy style.
Good form is important to target all the right muscles while practicing stretching exercises for beginners or more advanced athletes. Think about every single muscle movement during the stretch for the best posture and alignment.
Whether it’s recovery between workouts or exercises, an awareness of our physical and mental well-being during this downtime is important to improve the performance of our body and mind.
Andy recommends meditating for just ten minutes a day for a healthier and happier life. A 2018 study found that people who used Headspace for only 10 days reported an 11% decrease in stress; after 30 days of using the app, they reported a 32% decrease.
As with meditation, a short period of stretching can also have a beneficial impact on our lives.
But as with all exercises of the body and mind, a regular, consistent practice is how to best reap the benefits. So flexibility training for beginners or more advanced athletes should be practiced daily, if possible.
A 2018 study led by an Iowa State University researcher found that a meditation program could be as effective at getting people to move more, like structured exercise programs.
And it’s never too late to start stretching. As you age, your joints become less flexible, and there are lots of stretching exercises for seniors to practice at home.
Just a short daily stretching routine for beginners can increase our flexibility and performance and decrease pain.
We could make stretching part of our morning routine alongside our daily meditation. It might take a little while to get into the habit, but once we do, it can feel as normal as brushing our teeth.
Try Headspace for free now and join more than 66 million people who have downloaded the app. There are Move Mode mindful workouts and hundreds of guided meditations to help harmonize our body and mind and keep us focused before, during and after exercise and throughout our daily lives.