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Archive for Sleep

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

Cat Stretch - a part of the daily somatics exercisesThe result of a cat stretch could make one more restful.

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.


Help Me Get to Sleep

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Are you awake at night wondering, “help me get to sleep”. There are any number of strategies for sleeping well, yet nature has already set it up for us to get a good night’s sleep.

Waking up 60x/minute – Help Me Get To Sleep

I remember taking an overnight sleep study at the sleep center where I didn’t even get to finish it. They told me to go home in the morning after informing me I was waking up 60x per minute. No wonder it felt like a mack truck hitting me every morning when I groggily awoke.

I needed some help with sleep since I was living with lots of stress in my muscles on account of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The chronic pains I used to live with were enough to keep me awake at night even though I slept with a tens unit to quiet some of the muscles down, a heating pad to soothe the back and an ice pack wrapped around my neck to ease those aches… all this after a long soak in an epsom salt bath.

Little did I know Fido had the answer to help me get to sleep.

Help me get to sleep sooner rather than later

Healthy vertebrate animals like Fido sure know how to sleep. Ah to live the happy life of a dog, yet he does something to get the tension out of his muscles so he can sleep easy.

Those cute little maneuvers he does is not a stretch, it’s called a pandiculation. He’s contracting a series of muscles and letting them release. This procedure gets the brain to send chemicals of relaxation to the targeted areas. Fortunately, we’ve systematized this as somatics exercises where you “remember” how to access this natural process.

Yepperdoodle, as our 5th grader would say. When we were children, we would do that morning stretch which we had begun to do in our mother’s womb. We were programming our muscles for both function and a relaxation response.

We got older and forgot about it. We’ve been told to stretch to keep limber. Well stretching as we know it is dead wrong according to the research. Don’t freak out, I happen to be a divorce counselor on the side.

We can go about it another way which is to use our brain to get our muscles relaxed so we can sleep better.

This might sound a bit counter-intuitive but you won’t be thinking help me get to sleep when you doze off by doing some simple somatics exercises that anyone can do.

Like Fido, when we do somatics exercises we are doing that “p” word, getting the brain to make relaxation chemicals. As we do some simple movements, we’ll begin to do things like yawn and get sleepy… all without a lot of effort either.

Help Me Get to Sleep – Online Class

Join me in a Help Me Get to Sleep Online Class, which you can download so you won’t have to lie there thinking, “help me get to sleep”.

You’ll learn how to safely and easily let go tense or tight muscles and quiet them and the mind – just in case that gets in the way too.

With simple easy movements known as somatics exercises, you’ll get to relax muscles in the chest, arms, waist, and belly so the hips, shoulders and neck will be freer to rest the spine and your entire self.

Since 1680, we’ve known that muscles can come to rest with the “p” word. Who knows you might be able to say “help me get to sleep no more” by knowing how the brain and body can un-lock the code to help with sleep.

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