Updated: Aug 3
I've been working on tying up loose ends and making use of SO MANY things I've done but haven't done enough with them. One of those is a stretching program to calm the nervous system that I developed when I first became a health coach and wanted to turn it into something that is hopefully useful for you.
Here's a preview of some of the verbiage to give you an idea of what in it:
I developed this program in May 2021 as I was learning about the physiology of nervous system regulation and how it intersects with muscles and movement.
At the time, I did not know I’m autistic; I just knew this stuff was actually working for me and, per usual, had to share with people.
Here’s a rundown of the program:
10-minutes per day
Program will start with 60 seconds of breathing exercises and end with 60 seconds in a relaxation pose with 8 minutes of stretching in between.
Feel free to stay in stretches and/or the final relaxation pose for longer if you have the time.
Combines breathing exercises and stretching to calm the nervous system
Your time is important – and not always easy to come by – so we are definitely going to multitask.
PRO TIP: add some bilateral music to help better process emotions at this time
Same session each day; new progressive session each week for 4-weeks
Exercise should generally not be performed 7 days per week, but gentle movement of the body is definitely on the daily menu.
Going through the same stretches each day for the week allows the body to gain familiarity so the focus can be elsewhere, not on how to get into a pose, etc.
This can be done anytime, almost anywhere; you just need a chair/bench/ottoman and a few feet of floor space.
PRO TIP: Use this in the morning or evening when cortisol levels are naturally highest to help the body settle into the day or evening,
Learn to activate the body’s relaxation response – aka parasympathetic nervous system
Diaphragm breathing exercises included are designed to increase respiratory capacity and activate the body’s relaxation response.
Once learned, the technique can be used anywhere to help deal with stress.
Slow, gentle stretching - 3 variations of each pose included for inclusion
We are not looking for deep stretches that will dramatically increase flexibility, and I didn’t want to include anything too complex that would take a lot of time to transition into; the point here is to give the body a gentle stretch in easy-to-maneuver positions so the mind can focus on breath and ensure the poses are welcoming and unintimidating.
There are 3 versions of each stretch provided to account for varying levels and abilities.
Many of us are more flexible in some areas than others, and most of us also have imbalances between sides (ie left hip is tighter) so feel free to mix-and-match versions/levels that work for you with each move. There may be some where you’re doing version 1 and some where you’re doing version 3, and that may fluctuate on a daily basis. Think of these as a guide, not rules set in stone.
Download the program HERE
(you must be logged in to access the file; login at the top right - or quickly create an account at the same place - and the file will show up in the folder!!)
It's also posted in the Co-Regulators Group.
If you're looking for more information about diaphragm breathing, you can checkout videos I've done on TikTok from the "Stress Response playlist" or get more detailed info from the Bautie Sochanics blog.
My intention is to do a 'Diaphragm Breathing 101' post here soon, too.
If you find these resources helpful, I’d appreciate your support on YouTube. I’m trying to put more substantive content there, as well.