Nature wants me to remind you that your body is an animal. And to remember that animals aren’t meant to be “on guard” 24/7/365.
In life, you will have moments of awareness, moments of flight, and many more moments of relaxation. For most of us, we live in flight and hyper-awareness and forget the relaxation part.
Gentle reader, after the busyness of the holiday season, it’s time to soften and relax the animal that is your body.
To do this, find 15 minutes where you can be alone. Close the door or go outside if the weather is nice.
Go through this “Rigid/Relax” exercise slowly (in fancy terms “Progressive Muscle Relaxation”). Count 10 seconds to hold rigid and 10 seconds to settle into the relax. Remember NOT to over do your rigid stretch to the point where it hurts or you cramp up. For some people, a 5-second rigid stretch is more than adequate. Listen to YOUR body.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
- Take a few deep, cleansing breaths.
- Slip off your shoes and start at your toes. Clench your toes and then let them relax.
- Point your feet hard and then let them relax.
- Roll your feet several times left and then right. Relax.
- Clench your calves. Relax.
- Clench your thighs. Relax.
- Clench your butt muscles. Relax.
- Tighten your lower back muscles (this might be a natural state of being for some of us). Relax.
- Pull and tighten your shoulder blades together. Relax.
- Draw in and tighten your belly/abs. Relax.
- Push your diaphragm out tight. Relax.
- Fill your lungs, diaphragm, and belly very full with air. Relax.
- Tighten up your biceps. Relax.
- Make fists with your hands, but focus on tightening your forearms. Relax.
- Make fists with your hands again. Relax.
- Draw your head forward and down until you feel a tightness in your neck. Relax.
- Jut your jaw forward until you feel tension. Relax.
- Squeeze your lips together hard. Relax.
- Open your mouth wide. Stick out your tongue. Relax.
- Tighten up your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth. Relax.
- Blow up your cheeks with air until they are tight. Relax.
- Scrunch up your eyes tight. Relax.
- Lift your eyebrows really high. Relax.
- Wiggle your ears (if you’re able). Relax.
- Move your scalp (either by flexing your eyebrows up and down or just use your hands). Relax.
- Lay down and make your entire body rigid. Relax. This ending relaxation is savasana, or corpse pose, in a yoga practice.
After you’ve gone through these steps, stay relaxed and just “be” for a minute (or 20) to feel the oxygen flowing through your body. Settle into the relaxation. It does a body GOOD.
Nature reminds you: This simple relaxation practice can influence your mood for the entire day.
“An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.” ~ Edmund Jacobson, MD