Wednesday, November 10, 2010

full-body relaxation technique

Welcome to our new blog!

Today, we'll cover a full-body relaxation technique that we experienced in class this morning.

-Begin by lying on your back. If the room is cool, cover with a blanket. If you have low-back stuff going on today, place a bolster or large pillow under your knees. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths and relax your mind.

-Bring all of your attention into your toes. Curl them and squeeze. With a giant exhale, relax your toes, feeling the stress melt from them.

-Next is your feet. Tighten all the muscles in your feet. Notice how uncomfortable this is. Your feet are true workhorses, often referred to as "dogs". Needless to say, we abuse our feet. We stuff them into shoes and walk on them all day. With a giant exhale, relax your feet and wiggle them around.

-Bring your focus to your calves. Point your toes and tighten your calf muscles. These are the most underappreciated muscles in the body. They carry us around all day, and receive very little care. Exhale & release tension from them.

-Next, your shins. Pull your toes up, toward your knees and notice the muscles on the front of your lower legs. Exhale and relax them so much that they seem to "melt" off your bones.

-Now your quadriceps, the large muscle group on the front of your upper thighs. Engage these muscles and pull your kneecaps slightly up. Your quadriceps get very tight when sitting too long. Exhale again, and allow any tension to release from the muscles.

-Move your thoughts to your hamstrings (the large muscle group on the backs of your thighs) and your buttocks. Tighten all these muscles. An imbalance of the back of the leg and hips, compared to the front of the leg and abdominals often causes severe back pain. Notice the strength of these muscles. With a giant exhale, release and melt into your mat.

-Now the low and mid-back. See if you can isolate these muscles as you tense them. Exhale, release, and feel your low back melt.

-Bring your attention into your belly. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and notice how tightness here affects your entire body. This area is closely associated with your emotions. As you carry tension through this area, it can change the way you digest food, the way you feel, and even the way you breathe. Relax through your belly and allow the breath to flow in and out in a comfortable fashion.

-Close your hands into fists. Tighten all the muscles through your arms and shoulders. See if you can feel each individual muscle. Notice, and determine if this is a familiar feeling. Do you carry stress in your hands & shoulders while driving? Exhale and allow all that tension to slide out the tips of your fingers.

-Finally, engage the muscles in your neck, your jaw, and your face. Make a face like you do when you're angry. Notice how this angry expression affects your entire body, and even has an impact on your emotions. Exhale and allow your expression to return to normal.

-Tighten all the muscles in your body at once. Really squeeze here and notice how uncomfortable you are. Exhale fully and release down into your mat.

-Lie still for another 10 minutes here, paying close attention to your breath. When it's time to get up, move slowly and intentionally. Notice the feeling of calm you have and try to carry some of that throughout your day.

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