#13 Final Strengthening, Stretching and Relaxation
This is a good time to do some final strengthening. Rochelle often invites people to playfully take all of that joy and maintain it while doing sit-ups! She'll have everyone make a circle and invite women to take turns sharing their favorite ab exercise shifting the dynamic around struggling to enjoying the opportunity to get stronger.
Stretching and Relaxation
Imagine embodying the feminine by becoming more and more like a feline, like a lioness. Instead of the common image of an over tired, slightly neurotic, exhausted, disconnected, stressed out human being, allow yourself to get into the primal rhythms of deep rest, maintaining a calm mind, eating when hungry, sleeping when tired, mating when in heat.
The point is that many times we donʼt trust what our bodies are telling us they need. If weʼre tired in the morning, we overcome it with coffee. If weʼre upset, we might eat some sugar to sweeten up our day. If our souls are hungry, we may eat something that does not actually nourish us. We have come to distrust our instincts. Itʼs time to get back into a more trusted relationship with our bodies, intuitions and desires.
One of my yoga teachers often tells a story about the importance of relaxation at the end of class. He says, "Imagine you are going to the farmer's market in the morning to pick out the most fresh and organic produce. You then spend all day preparing a feast. You slice and
dice. You heat and cool. You try out some new recipes and you make some of your standards. At the end of a full day when everything is complete, instead of sitting down at the table and enjoying it, you throw it in the garbage. That would make no sense. Just like spending all this time to connect your mind, body and spirit into the same experience and not rest at the end. That makes no sense!"
I spent 10 years teaching traditional yoga, where it was always so apparent to me how culturally adverse we are to rest. Please make time in your class for women to be able to just be still for at least a couple minutes to get the most out of their experience.
How I teach the final strengthening is by getting everyone in a circle and inviting them to do sit- ups, push ups or strengthening with the same joy they had in the free dance, encouraging them to not suffer, but enjoy the opportunity to get stronger. I will also open it up for other’s to share their favorite ab exercise.
For final stretching, I like to do 5-10 minutes.
Start by laying down on your back, then:
One knee up, interlaced fingers, stretching hips and lower back, switch sides
Straighten leg and pull towards you, releasing tension in hamstrings, switch legs
Pretzel stretch, opening up glutes
Side stretching each direction
Come into position for final stillness and scan through the body sending breath and relaxation to every part
Allow 2-3 minutes of stillness after the body scan
Invite everyone to memorize this feeling of relaxation and calm on a cellular level. At the end of class when we are resting, we are allowing ourselves to reset and tap more deeply into our inner wisdom.
This is a great time to ask ourselves questions from this balanced place of feeling rejuvenated: What choices can I make that will sustain and expand this feeling? What foods will nourish me? What people will delight me? What music will make me dance? Play a really fantastic positive energy song for people to transition from savasana to whatever is next in their day!
Final Stretching and Relaxation
Allow around 10 minutes to stretch and rest in stillness, integrating the movement. When stretching instruct students to feel the stretch, and find the stretch that feels best.
It doesn't matter how deep you go. The most important thing is to open up from where you are.
Go to the place where you feel a stretching sensation and it's not too hard, but also not too easy. Find the place where you can feel the stretching sensation and then stay with it.
Imagine your breath is like a masseuse and your body is melting into the pose with every exhale. Be sure to hold for at least five deep breaths before you release.
When you find the stretch that feels best, take a deep breath and surrender to gravity.
Release any unnecessary effort and revel in the stretching sensation.
It’s never about how deep you go, it’s about opening up from where you are
Pull/twist/bend just enough to feel a stretch
Wherever you feel it is the perfect place to be
How far can you feel the stretch the side body?
It doesn’t matter how deep you go- there is no prize.
After stretching, bring class to final relaxation and scan through the body, bringing breath and relaxation through every part. Allow for 2-3 min of stillness after the body scan.