By Guest Blogger, Amy Hardwick
What if you could begin to regain your range of motion in just five minutes a day? Have you been cleared by your doctor to begin gentle movement but not sure where to begin? Try these 5 simple stretches every day to get started.
Where do I begin?
When movement is uncomfortable, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to do it consistently.
Your incision sites are tender and the scar tissue is limiting your range of motion. Add to that the fact that you have likely been resting and recovering, which often means extended periods of time sitting and lying down.
In the wise words of Meryl Streep, “Start by starting.” The task of healing may at times seem daunting. Start small. Be consistent and celebrate each step forward along the way. Trust that your body is resilient.
The simple truth is that repetition creates results. While you may not be able to carve out longer chunks of time every day, you can likely find five minutes to practice these yoga stretches to gain back your range of motion over time.
Before you begin, be sure you are cleared by your doctor to do gentle movement. Listen to your body and honor where it is at each day and each step of the process.
Just like when you were a kid! Lie on your back and stretch your legs out long (or support under your knees with a pillow).
Begin with your arms by your sides and your palms facing up to the ceiling. Keeping your arms connected to the ground, inhale and move your arms up overhead. As you exhale, sweep your arms back by your sides...just like making snow angels, you will likely feel a stopping point along the way. You want to come to that point but not push past to where there is pain.
Repeat with palms facing down to the ground and palms facing in towards your sides.
Stay lying on your back with your arms by your sides. This time, as you inhale, reach one arm up towards the ceiling and then overhead. As you exhale, lower the arm back by your side. Repeat back and forth with each arm for one minute.
Like snow angels, you will likely reach a resistance point. Go to that but not past that.
Heart Melting Pose
Begin in Table Top Position (hands and knees) with your shoulders stacked over your hands and your hips stacked over your knees.
Keep your hips stacked there and walk your hands forward until your forehead comes to, or towards, the ground.
A block or a pillow for support under your forehead can be great if the mat feels really far away!
This looks a lot like child’s pose but with your hips over your knees instead of back to your heels.
Shoulder Opener with a Strap
You can do this one seated or standing and you will need a yoga strap or any type of belt or scarf that is fairly long.
Hold one end of the strap in each hand and take your arms out to a wide V-shape in front of you.
As you inhale lift your arms overhead and as you exhale reach your arms behind you.
Repeat back to front and front to back a few times. Go slowly and move with your breath.
You want there to be tension on the strap and feel the end range of motion without pain.
Fallen Angel at the Wall
Stand with the right side of your body along the wall. Stretch your right arm straight back from your shoulder with your palm pressing into the wall.
You will likely feel the stretch just by doing that, but if not begin to turn your chest away from the wall.
Keep your hand active as you press it into the wall. Repeat for the left side.
Go slowly. Be patient. Listen to your body and celebrate each small step forward. Yoga can help to heal not only your body but your relationship to it as well.
Amy Hardwick is a yoga teacher and reiki master that specializes in creating online content to support people during cancer treatment and recovery so they can practice from the comfort of their own home.
She is an E-RYT that is passionate about bringing the tools of yoga outside of the traditional studio environment to support integrative cancer care. A student at heart, she has trained with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Inner Peace Yoga Therapy.
Her classes and programs are down-to-earth, and offer practical tools that are tailored specifically for people in active treatment and survivors looking to recover and rebuild.
For more information on yoga for cancer care programs: www.amyhardwick.com