Stretching - 拉伸- Lā shēn
When young, our skin and bones are soft and supple.
When old, our body becomes brittle.
This process is inevitable.
Stretching - both literally and metaphorically - is a necessary part of life. ~Deng Ming-Dao
Stretching, when done correctly, emphasizes and embraces every part of the body. First, the joints and tendons are loosened, freeing one's self of the muscular tension that often causes injuries. Methodically, the rest of the body must be engaged, beginning with the large muscle groups and working towards the smallest, the fingers. Throughout the stretching process, breathing must be maintained or the tension will not subside, but intensify. With correct breathing, stretch slowly and gently, not bouncing back and forth in an attempt to lengthen the stretch. Do not stretch one side of the body and ignore the other; always keep your exercise routine in balance. If you follow this on a daily basis, your flexibility will undoubtedly increase.
Metaphorically, stretching one's mind leads one away from inflexible attitudes, and towards expansion of one's true self. The more flexible the mind, the less likely that conflict will arise. Retain that which is tender and pliable, like the young plant. Do not become like the old, petrified tree; stiff, immobile, and vulnerable to cracking. Softness equates with life, while hardness represents death. The more flexible you can become, the healthier you will be.