The playlist that fuels my flexibility journey
As much I try to stay away from self-diagnosis (aka Dr. Google), this one is pretty clear. Symptoms include anxiety, micromanaging, placing my unrealistic expectations on others, and engaging in passive aggressive behaviors until I get my way. Yes, you guessed it. I'm a control freak. Recognizing the problem is nice, but actually dialing it down a notch and relinquishing said control? Whoo. I'm stressed just thinking about it.
Being responsible for a small human doesn't exactly help my case. I'm constantly yelling "stop", "don't touch that", or "don't put that in your mouth!" to my 2 year old son. His favorite thing to say is "careful" when he's in fact about to do something extremely dangerous. It's like he wants to taunt me! Oh to be young, wild, and free.
I also tend to want to do everything myself so I know it will be done exactly the way I want it. Does this lead to me being constantly overwhelmed? Yes. Does it make me change my ways? Not a chance.
I had to find a way to avoid burnout and release all the angst I kept bottled up in my head. The alternative would have been this:
My first solution was to get back into dancing, my favorite form of escapism. I love to dance and I’m actually pretty good at it. I mean, I’m not Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella performance good, but my shimmy is up there with the best of them. The problem was I hadn't been to a dance class in a long time. You know those disclaimers that tell you to consult your doctor before joining a rigorous exercise program? Yeah, I wasn't trying to pull a hamstring muscle and add to my stress.
To avoid any potential disasters, I decided my first step needed to be increasing my flexibility. I've always wanted to be more flexible, but I truly believed people are just born flexible and I had no hope. In a search for inspiration from someone who hasn't been flexible since they were 2 (no shade), I came across Alicia Archer aka @kinkysweat. She revealed in a video about her flexibility story that she didn't become flexible until she was 18. I am nowhere near 18, but her story was still the encouragement I needed.
I have a daily stretch routine now that includes 30 mins of stretching in the morning and 30 minutes of stretching before bed. I know most people, especially if at home, stretch in silence. Silence is the opposite of relaxing for me though. I just get distracted and start thinking about what I want to eat for dinner that night. So, I curated a playlist to keep me motivated through the painful burn of each stretch.
My “VIBEZ” playlist is a mix of smooth R&B, pop, powerful soul, and hip-hop guaranteed to make your speakers knock. Haters will call it random. I call it balance.
I categorize my stretch routines into three parts: the warmup, the push through, and the cool down.
1. The Warmup
(Desired mood – energetic, amped up, powerful)
Playlist highlights: “Up” by Cardi B and “Nice for what” by Drake kickstart my sessions off right. It’s nothing like a good beat to hype you up and make you feel like you can do anything. Don’t believe me? This 2014 NPR article describes how music with higher bass can make you feel more powerful and in turn help you endure more pain.
2. The Push Through
(Desired mood – confident, sexy, masterful)
Playlist highlights: “Partition” by Beyonce and “Skin” by Rihanna have me feeling like the sexiest woman alive. It would be a shame for the sexiest woman alive to have stiff joints, right? I tell myself if I don’t push through now, I’ll never achieve the level of sex appeal Beyonce did in this video.
3. The Cool Down
(Desired mood – relaxed, calm, able)
Playlist highlights: “Chainsmoking” by Jacob Banks and “Last Stand” by Kwabs are the perfect closers for each session. The artistry in these two songs is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The rich and soulful tone of their voices helps ease my mind and relax my whole body.
I haven’t achieved my flexibility goals yet, but getting control over my own body helps me worry less about controlling everything else around me. I hope this motivated you to find the areas in your life, whether physical or mental, that need to be stretched. Remember that Zen is a state of mind and anyone can achieve it. Flex on friends.