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The Cat Stretch is what Thomas Hanna called the daily maintenance somatics exercise program in his book, Somatics.
The cat stretch is a misnomer even though we often see our furry felines appearing to stretch.
Cat Stretch is not Stretching
When a cat stretches, it is actually tightening or contracting a series of muscles. We’ve come to find out this is called a pandiculation. When we do this entire act, our muscles lengthen and become more relaxed.
Our clever cat uses its brain’s motor cortex to initiate a movement, which at first glance looks like a stretch. You’ve seen a cat round its back. It’s not stretching the back, it’s pulling the belly in and using the abdominal muscles to pull back.
Then… it’ll release itself. The abs are reset and ready to be used. Healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset their muscles and movement system periodically throughout the day. No wonder they rest so well. If only we could do the same.
Cat Stretch – 7 Simple Movements
Fortunately, some 300 years after we learned about pandiculations. This very act brings muscles to rest. The system of somatics exercises teaches us how to go cortical and re-establish length and comfort in our movement system. Watch the fast version of the cat stretch below.
Here is what the 7 simple movements of the cat stretch address.
1. The first movement wakes up the brain, spine and hips.
2. The second movement helps to release tightness in our front side, such as the abdomen. This will allow the back to further lengthen.
3. This movement relaxes the muscles of the back, from the neck all the way down to the foot.
4. The fourth move releases held tension levels in the hips and chest. If we’re locked-in from too much sitting or hard work, this is a go to release.
5. Most everyone’s favorite movement, this delicious move lengthens the spine, frees up the hips and shoulders… and is enough to purr along.
6. A 3 part lower body sequence to free up the feet and ankles and connect up to the hips, back and head. This helps to straighten out the legs for better walking and balance in running.
7. The final movement of the cat stretch addresses the neck, back rotation and hip mobility in a delightful seated manner. You may not need the car mirrors anymore after this.
Cat Stretch Audio Recording
Healthy animals do a number of morning resets. We can simply follow along with a morning routine of the cat stretch somatics exercises designed for the human animal. Once you learn the routine, it only takes minutes to remind the muscles of their natural length, while at the same improving the mobility we need for the day.
Just like a good cat stretch at night, we can drift off and sleep more easily too.
The Cat Stretch daily maintenance somatics exercises program is now available to download and enjoy in the comfort of your home – meow.