Like so many, our resolutions for 2017 are to experience new things and continue to add new practices to our lifestyle of wellness. First up, we’ve got a new class that has made its way to our Austin programming schedule. The Interactive Stretch & Massage class showcases the basic techniques of Thai Massage and benefits that can be found in the foundation of stretching the muscles.

During the class, partners take turns being therapists practicing their technique, and guinea pigs offering feedback as our instructor demonstrates different massage and stretch techniques with a Travaasa therapist.

In the one-hour, interactive session, you’ll learn multiple techniques that soothe the body’s key muscle groups. The goal is to provide practical stretch and massage techniques our guests can take away and incorporate them into everyday life to increase relaxation and flexibility.

If you can’t until your next Travaasa Austin visit to try it out, our expert instructor, Jon has shared some of his favorite stretches and words of wisdom to get your practice started at home.

Get to know our guide.

Jon is currently a massage therapist, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and mechanical bull enthusiast at Travaasa Austin. He studied Music Education at St Cloud State University in Minnesota before becoming a high school band director, a paramedic and group fitness instructor. Jon has been involved in health and wellness for all of his adult life, working with massage clients ranging from general wellness seekers to professional and Olympic athletes.

Q: What is your favorite stretch for waking up?

A: The best way to start the day is with a Reclining Spinal Twist. It is a great way to relieve stress in your lower back. Make sure to take strong, deep breaths as you lean back, alternating as you reach both left and right. With each breath, press slightly further into the stretch during every exhale.  Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds on each side.

Q: What are your favorite stretches for energy?

A: I have a lot of favorites, but my top three are the Upward Stretch – which is a great way to get the blood flowing during the afternoon slump. Elongate your spine and feel the stretch in your rib cage as your arms reach up.  Hold for 10 seconds and then incorporate a sitting side stretch to both sides.

If you’re looking for a great stretch to moving circulation, the Hamstring Stretch will get the blood flowing to one of your largest muscle groups. Lying flat on your back, keeping your hips centered and flat, lift one straight leg toward the ceiling.  If you’re flexible enough, clasp your hands around your hamstrings while keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed. Take deep breaths throughout and switch legs after 20-30 seconds.  

Many people are familiar with the Downward-Facing Dog into Upward Facing Dog sequence, which is why it is a mainstay of most stretching routines. It’s important to make sure to breathe throughout these movements as these stretches wake up most of your body’s muscles, promoting circulation and increasing energy!

Q: What is your favorite benefit of stretching?

A: The physical benefits of stretching are obvious, but my favorite aspect of stretching is the positive mental health break it provides. Even a short, 5-10 minute morning stretch can be a short meditative mental health reboot. While stretching, I make sure not to have a cell phone, computer or other distraction near by.  Stretching is my time to breathe deeply and focus inward.