Stretching – not as easy as you’d think

I had a private kungfu lesson this morning and as it was raining we were indoors and my ground floor, with a bit of furniture moving, soon turned into a torture chamber.

We began with a little light stretching, Chinese dog style, and, to my horror, moves that I could do pretty easily a year ago, before the dreaded illness, were now, well, difficult.

When I was in China in February 2008, I was pretty flexible and Master Linn, who we were studying with in Fuchou, even complimented me on my ability to go through some of his more contortive moves. Nothing like him of course who even in his late sixties can stretch into positions which you would never think the human body could achieve.

Now, a year after my brain haemorrhage, I am fighting back health-wise and I am now back doing some of these moves but, believe me, flexibility is a fickle friend. Leave it for any length of time and it turns it back on you and runs. I could not believe how much my body had forgotten that it could move but I got there – just. I shall be practising these moves daily now if I can because I am never going to accept that seized up, immobile feeling that take so many people over before they realize it.

Winston Churchill once said that it was better to sit than stand and better to lie down than sit – well he did quite well into old age, I guess, for an old fat guy, but I think he was wrong. There is nothing like that feeling of fitness and flexibility which comes with exercise. Creaking back like I did this morning awoke so many muscles memories reminding me of what being alive should feel like.

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