Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a deep relaxation technique that has been effectively used to help control stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain.  It is also one technique that can be used when working towards reaching a meditative state in a yogic practice.  It’s a simple two-step process in which you systematically tense and then relax different muscle groups in your body.  With regular practice, it can provide you a great understanding of what both tension and complete relaxation feel like in different parts of your body.  This awareness can help you react to the first signs of muscular tension associated with stress.  As your body relaxes, so will your mind.  When the body is relaxed and the mind is still, you gain an opportunity to enter into a meditative state.  Those who practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation regularly report stress reduction, the ability to fall asleep faster, and reduced anxiety, and lowered levels of chronic pain.  This technique can be done by anyone in just 10-20 minutes per day.

Progressive muscle relaxation can be combined with deep breathing for additional stress relief.

Consult with your doctor first if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing your muscles.  Always practice mindfully and be responsible for your health and wellbeing.

How to practice:

This technique can be done lying down or sitting in a chair with a long and straight spine.

Start at your feet and work your way up to your face, trying to only tense the muscles that you are working with.

Make sure your clothing is not restrictive and settle into a comfortable position.

Take a few minutes to breathe in and out, turning your awareness to your breathing.

When you are ready, shift your awareness to your right foot. Inhale slowly for a count of 10 as you tense your right foot.

With an exhalation, relax your right foot completely. Notice the feeling of relaxation coming over your whole foot as it softens and loosens.

Shift your attention to your left foot. Tense your left foot for a count of ten as you slowly inhale.

With an exhalation, relax your right foot completely. Notice the feeling of relaxation coming over your whole foot as it softens and loosens.

In this same manner move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups with inhales and exhales.

Right calf, left calf, right thigh, left thigh, right buttock, left buttock, low back, upper back, abdominals, right hand, left hand,  right lower arm , left lower arm, right upper arm, left upper arm, right shoulder, left shoulder, neck, muscles of the face.

Repeat until you reach the top of your head.

Then take 3 deep cleansing breaths.

Let yourself enjoy the feeling of being completely relaxed.

Rest in comfort with your awareness on your incoming and outgoing natural breath.   Allow yourself to work towards deeper meditative states.  Take as long as you’d like!