This is a picture of me.
Okay... so I'm at the bottom left of the picture holding my daughter on the foot of a giant brontosaurus. But I could easily have been referring to that mighty-thighed mini-armed marvel on the right.
I was blessed with the lower body of my father. We have quadriceps and calves for DAYS. Buying fashionable ladies boots is out of the question (now I don't care so much because most of those boots have narrow toe boxes, rigid soles and high heels - thank you RE). A thigh gap is as mythical as a unicorn to me.
Ever the optimist, my father once told me to take heart for if ever there were a forced march, our clan would be sure to survive! So - that's my lower body. From the hips UP I'm built like my little mommy. She is petite. I have at times felt like one those funny flip books where you get to see the head of a mermaid on the body of a sumo wrestler.
Now that I don't have to worry about those knee high boots, and I find the squat-prep exercises a little less impossible than some of my more proportionate lady friends, I have embraced my legs (sometimes literally). I smile at them in the mirror, and think affectionately of my late father while giving thanks for the strong legs he gave me.
To sum up - lower body strength for the T-Rex - not an issue. Upper body?? Puh-lease! Look at those little arms. I was never a monkey bar girl in elementary school. I always failed the "flexed-arm hang" of the presidential fitness test. Fellow yogis will understand when I say that my chaturanga had long been less than inspiring.
About a year before I found Restorative Exercise™ I had been working on increasing my upper body strength. I was participating in a Kundalini Yoga class that was really taxing my arms, and decided that I needed to add some oomph so that I could keep up (what with yoga being a competitive sport, and all).
I was doing push-ups (because that's what people do, right?). I started off doing modified push-ups - not even planked from the knee, but from a quadraped position... T-Rex, remember? I worked my way up to push-ups from the knee, and eventually to the traditional push-up position on my toes. It took many long weeks to get there, and along the way I continued to experience bouts of near debilitating upper back and neck pain (tight pecs, anyone?). I was "stronger;" but, I was not healthier. I would back off of the push-ups for a couple of weeks, feel better and then start up again; but, always a little weaker than where I left off (fewer, back to pushing up from the knees, etc.).
When I found RE, I gave up my push-ups and started feeling better. I started stretching my chest, lengthening my neck, twisting my abdomen, releasing my psoas, strengthening my rhomboids, and hanging from my pull-up bar (baby steps, people - I'm a T-Rex here). My neck pain subsided, my upper back pain is a thing of the past.
After about 10 months, curiosity got the better of me. All of this RE stuff that I'm doing is allowing my muscles to return to their optimal length, and that is supposed to make me stronger, right? But I'm not doing any "strength training" per se. Can I do a push-up after not training those muscles for a year? A week or two off before and I had to drop back to my knees - what could I expect now??
Well... This Restorative Exercise™ practicing T-Rex dropped down and did 5 push-ups from her toes. That may not seem like a big deal to you - but to a T-Rex who hadn't done a push up in 10 months it was a MAJOR revelation. Muscles that have yield and blood flow, muscles that are allowed to stretch will strengthen. As true of a testimonial is this... I didn't have a huge bout of neck and upper back pain in the days after my push-ups. I was able to recruit more muscles to do the job; and, when the job was over those muscles didn't tighten up and create an imbalance to throw my back out.
My point is this... Restorative Exercise™ may seem very stretchy-feely from the outside. You may not think that aligning your body, and lengthening & releasing your muscles is going to do much for your strength in the long run. I challenge you to give it a try and see what it can do for you. It is real, it is gentle, it is AWESOME. Take it from a T-Rex!