How Stretching Can Change Your Emotions

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"If you dabble in alternative approaches to wellness, you already know that how you think, be it positive or negative, biochemically affects your body. But have you ever wondered if this mind-body connection works the other way around? That is, can you alter the way you think and emote by using your body to affect changes in your mind?

The answer is yes. Think of the "runner"s high" the euphoric feeling some people get by using prolonged physical stress. Or the pain relief others report after an acupuncture treatment. And the mental/emotional change yoga has given people since ancient times. Each of these is scientifically documented.

Physiological changes (e.g., muscle tone, heart rate, endocrine release, posture, facial expression, etc.) start in your nervous system, manifest in your body and loop back to your brain. This happens often over the course of a lifetime. You get angry. You get un-angry. You get sad. You get un-sad. But problems occur when emotions like grief and anger go unresolved. These are the things that, over time, will redistribute your energy, change your posture, and give you a scowl. They will lock themselves into your muscles and fascia, and lock you into certain patterns of thinking and behaving.

Fascia is the thin sheath of fibrous connective tissue that encloses your muscles and other organs. It"s a very slow-moving, steady tissue. For this reason, to try to change it via your nervous system or mind is an arduous process. And even though general exercise is good for you, when it comes to changing how you think and react it"s not inclusive. It works your muscles, but it won"t change the pattern of your fascia. To do this, you need long, slow, sustained stretches.

When fascia is gently stretched into a new shape, you release the chronic tension lodged in the tissues, making it easier to change the nervous and even the circulatory systems. All of this can lead to a wonderful emotional unfolding.

There are several ways to do this. But generally, sustained stretches like those used in yoga, Zero Balancing, SomatoEmotional Release and certain massage techniques give the muscles a chance to calm down. You see, the muscles must relax before the fascia can begin to stretch and release. Once they do, there will be profound change within the body and mind. That"s what the people who developed yoga recognized, that in order to change the person you have to change the body.

As human beings, we have a tremendous ability to change. It was once believed we had little ability to alter neural pathways. Now we know that"s not true. Some of us still believe our genetics are our destiny, but that"s not true either. Yes, you share genetic material with your parents, but your external experience changes your genetics whether it"s trauma, happiness, exercise or love."

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