In this article I’m going to describe a simple technique that you can use at home to help you feel more relaxed. Good, deep, beneficial relaxation takes a little bit of practise but in time your body will remember and be able to return to these practises again and again to manage stress.
Step 1 – Create the right atmosphere
If the environment is calm and relaxed then we are more likely to feel calmer and relaxed. To achieve this there are various adjustments that can be made quickly and easily. You certainly do not need to go mad and clean the house for two hours just have a bit of relaxing “me” time. All you need to do is ensure that the room is warm, has soft lighting and no distractions or interruptions. As a nice touch you could also put on some appropriate calming music and some subtle smelling incense.
Step 2 – Getting comfy
As well as creating the right atmosphere choosing a comfortable position in which to relax is also important. You want strike a balance. Any discomfort however small can be a major distraction and hinder your wonderful relaxation but you also don’t want to be so at ease that you just fall asleep. In a yoga class we would traditionally choose
Savasana (Corpse pose) or maybe
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall ) yet these maybe not appropriate for you at home and you simply might not have the space other than your bed to lay down on. So sitting in an easy chair can work just as well and you can also choose to put your feet up if you wish. It’s probably best to have the head well supported, you can use a small soft pillow or folded blanket for this. Finally make sure you wont get cold. The body rapidly loses heat during relaxation so you may wish to put on extra clothes or cover yourself with a light blanket. As an addition you may like to use an eye bag, scented with lavender. These are lovely and can really help you feel more at ease and gain a deeper state of relaxation.
Step 3 – The practise
Now you’re ready. One of the best ways to begin is to focus the mind on the breath and lengthen the exhalations. This encourages the nervous system to calm and in turn the body begins to move into a more relaxed state. Simply watch the breath, the rise and fall of the abdomen, eliminating irregularities. Practise this for a few minutes, you will know when you’re ready for the next part as the mind will begin to wander. The following techniques are particularly useful for when the muscles are tight.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to breathe deeply into your left foot. Visualise the breath filling up your entire left leg. Now tense your left leg. Lift if off the ground slightly. (Caution: leave leg on floor if you suffer any lower back issues) Tense it more, tense it further still… and exhale and completely relax your left leg and ease it away. Release and relax.
- Do the same with your right leg.
- Breathe into your left hand. Spread your palm and fingers open wide… Now make a fist. Breath deeply and visualise your arm being filled by your breath. Lift your arm and squeeze the muscles tight. Tense the muscles more, and a little more… Exhale and completely release your left arm. Let it become limp and heavy.
- Do the same with your right arm.
- Inhale deeply and fully into your belly. Fill it like a balloon. Then exhale through an open mouth. Sigh it all out. Relax completely.
- Now contract the buttock muscles. The hip may lift off the floor a little, that’s OK. Squeeze them tight, tighter still… And exhale and release.
- Breathe now into your ribcage. Deeply fill the lungs in all directions. Expand and release. Exhale deeply and completely relax the back and chest.
- Now your face. Squeeze all the tiny muscles of the face tight. Tighter and tighter… then release. Then encourage the forehead to feel broad. Then move the temples go back. Release the muscles around the eyes, mouth and throat. Relax the jaw.
- Breathe easy. Enjoy these feeling of letting go and relaxation.
- Don’t worry if the mind wanders. When it does just coax it back to the breath.
- Stay here for a few minutes or until you feel you want to move.
- When ready gently turn your head from one side then to the other.
- Open your eyes.
- Feel wonderful!
Just one thing left to say is do take care after being in a state of relaxation. Give yourself plenty of time to come round and ensure you are fully awake before moving onto your next task of the day…