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22 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m a rc h /a p r i l 2 0 2 1 best practices | SAVVY SELF•CARE Free Your Joints and Liberate Your Creative Energy By Heath and Nicole Reed Hello spring! The energy of new growth, renewal, regeneration, and rebirth is rising up and out. The earth is quickening, and our own energy systems are awakening with a new sense of purpose and action. The seeds of change planted last fall—and nourished all winter long— are cracking through their husks and sprouting into a new form of being. Indeed, this is the season of both being and becoming. During this seasonal transition, you may experience a building pressure that grows from new energy springing forth. The pull to remain in stillness and the push to move forward can create tension, resistance, and agitation in our bodies and minds. It takes effort, grit, determination, and tenacity to shake off the winter, push through the confines of the darkness, and reach for the light. Stretching and moving releases pent-up energies and encourages our emotions, breath, and blood to circulate freely. FREE YOUR JOINTS The following is a therapeutic, full-body joint-freeing sequence adapted from Mukunda Stiles's book Structural Yoga Therapy: Adapting to the Individual. The series is designed to "move each joint gently and systematically through its full and natural range of motion . . . to enhance joint mobility . . . and relieve joint pain and stiffness." 1 And being that traditional Chinese medicine associates spring with the wood element—ruler of our tendons—this routine dissolves tension and stiffness and generates a warm heart and flexible joints. A Joint-Freeing Series' Repeat each movement six times (or until the joint feels warm), coordinate your breath with your movement, and move with only 70 percent effort. There's no need to push or force your body through any range of motion. Please be kind with your body, and omit or modify any movements in areas where you are healing. Begin this series by sitting on the floor with both legs outstretched in front of you. You can support your spine by placing your hands on the floor behind your hips, or challenge your core by resting your hands on your thighs. 1. Inhale as you dorsiflex both feet. Exhale as you plantarflex. 2. Inhale as you create a half-circle. Exhale as you complete the circle. After six repetitions, repeat moving in the opposite circular direction six times. 3. Inhale and lift your straight leg off the ground. Exhale and bend your knee. Pull your heel toward your thigh as you hold onto your shin with one or both hands. Repeat on the opposite side. 4. Separate your straight legs wide apart. As you inhale, internally rotate one leg, then slide that straight leg as close as possible toward the opposite leg. Externally rotate that leg, and exhale as you slide that leg as far wide as possible (feel the motion originate in the hips). Repeat on the opposite side.

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