Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a way of stretching, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. It is said to be one of the most effective forms of stretching for the improvement of our flexibility and range of movement.
The process is to gently take the target muscle or muscles into their end stretch and hold for 20 – 30 seconds and then engage those same target muscles to resist as you apply some force for about 6 seconds. The muscle is then taken into a stretch again and held for 20 – 30 seconds followed by a rest of about 30 seconds and the whole procedure is repeated 2 or 3 times. It is important to note that the amount of force applied should only be a 30 – 40% force while the stretches should only be to 50 – 60% capacity.
How to do it:
1. Lie on your back with the legs out straight. If this is uncomfortable the knees can be bent with the soles of the feel on the floor.
2. Raise your right leg straight up, you might have to have a little bend in it if your hamstrings are tight.
3. Place a belt around the sole of your right foot and hold the ends.
4. Inhale and as you exhale gently draw the leg towards your torso and hold in an easy stretch for 20 – 30 seconds.
5. From that same position push your foot into the belt as if you are trying to lower the leg to the ground, but resist by holding tight and not letting it go anywhere. Hold this for 6 seconds.
6. Release the pull, inhale and as you exhale take the leg into a stretch again and hold for 20 – 30 seconds.
7. Relax 30 seconds and repeat 2 more times.
8. Repeat on the left side.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training