This exercise can help develop your body awareness and help release unnecessary or secondary muscle tension.
Wearing loose clothing, get into a comfortable position, either sitting up or lying down, with your head, arms, and legs well supported, and then follow the instructions below. You may want to have someone read the script out loud to you or record it and then play it back. Be sure to allow sufficient time to experience each step.
Contract and release each of the following muscle groups, one at a time. Practice noticing how the muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed. Pay particular attention to how each muscle group feels after you release the tension.
Once you can do this easily, do the same sequence of relaxing without tensing the muscle group first. Merely identify the muscle and relax. Mentally scan your body and actively release tension from your toes to your head and back again.
- Pull toes up toward shins. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Contract your calves. Hold it. Study it.
- Contract your thighs. Hold it. Study it. Relax. Your legs feel warm and heavy.
- Tighten buttocks. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Tighten perineum. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Contract abdominal muscles and pull in toward the spine. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Pretend spine is an elastic band, stretch up and down. Relax and feel them lengthen like a rubber band.
- Spread your fingers wide, stiffly. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Make a fist and tense arms. Hold it. Study it. Relax. Uncurl your fingers and feel the residual tension flow out of your fingertips and away.
- Tighten chest muscles. Relax. Take a deep breath and hold it. Study the tension in your chest and then breathe away the tension. Focus on the air coming in but especially on the air going out. Breathe away tension each time you exhale.
- Pull shoulders up to ears. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Stretch up your neck muscles. Hold it. Study it. Relax.
- Contract facial muscles – grimace, frown, wrinkle your forehead, press tongue against teeth. Relax. Smooth out forehead, around eyes, your jaw is relaxed, your lips are parted, feel as though your eyes are growing further apart, let your tongue rest comfortably on the floor of the mouth.
- Feel any residual tension going from your face, jaws, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, buttocks, perineum, thighs, calves, feet, and toes.
- Focus your attention on your breathing. Do slow chest/abdominal breathing. Each time you exhale, feel yourself relax further as your body becomes warm and heavy.
- Now, starting at your head and gradually moving down the rest of your body, focus your attention on your face and notice any residual tension there. Feel it flowing down and out…your face…your jaw…your neck…your shoulders…your arms…and out your fingertips. Notice your chest…feel any tension flowing down and away…past your abdomen…your back…your buttocks…your perineum…your thighs…your calves…and out your toes. Your whole body is limp, heavy, and relaxed.
- Breathe gently and easily. Feel the air bringing in a sense of wholeness and peace as you breathe in. Breathe away any tension as you exhale. Each time you breathe out, say the word ‘relax’ to yourself.
- Do this at least 3 times.
- Quietly study the way your body feels now – the warm, heavy, relaxed feeling