Relaxation Techniques

Progressive Relaxation - you tighten and release each part of the body by itself on both sides. Begin either with your head or your feet, then move down or up the body respectively. For example, to begin with your lower body, firmly tense your toes as tightly as possible and hold the tension. Then, very slowly, release the toes. Now, move up to your feet. Firmly tense them, hold the tension, then slowly release the feet. Continue the tensing and releasing until you reach the top of your head. You can tense and relax both sides simultaneously or one at a time.

Autogenic Relaxation - Autogenic Relaxation is similar to progressive relaxation in that the whole body is engaged, one part at a time. Rather than tensing the muscles, you'll say, "My toes are warm" three times and feel the blood moving to that part of the body to warm it. Then you move to the feet. "My feet are warm." You'll find that your muscles are more relaxed when they're warm.

Meditation- There are many types of meditation that you can engage in for relaxation, including Transcendental Meditation (TM), Primordial Sound Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, complete silence, and mindfulness meditation. Many forms of meditation require a teacher. However, you can mediate mindfully by following these steps. (1) Close your eyes. (2) Breathe normally and naturally, and gently notice your breathing. Refrain from trying to control or alter it in any way. (3) Notice how your breath changes on its own accord. It may vary in speed, rhythm, or depth, and there may even be occasions when your breath seems to stop for a time. Whatever happens with your breathing, observe it without trying to cause any changes. (4) Keep your focus on your breathing for the entire time period. For maximum benefit, practice this meditation technique for 15 minutes.

Biofeedback - Teaches how relaxation feels, how to induce relaxation and how to transfer this skill to everyday life.

Massage - Being massaged by another is a great way to "be" while tension in the muscles and toxins in the body are released. There are various massage techniques, including sports, deep tissue, neuromuscular, Swedish, and Oriental. Full body massages are generally an hour in duration and cost from $35 to $75 per hour. You can also experience a chair massage for a shorter time period and at a fraction of the cost. Reflexology focuses the massage on the feet and hands. Like any service, you may have to try out a few massage therapists before finding one that uses a technique that suits you. Be sure to ask friends for referrals. Ask the therapist about training, certification, and membership in the American Massage Therapy Association.

Music- Listening to certain types of music is a great way to relax anytime. You'll find that the Baroque music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Pachabel from the classical era, neo-classical artists like Stephen Halpern, Yanni, David Lanz, Ray Lynch, and the Nature Quest series (available at Target Stores) create a relaxing atmosphere. Research studies have found that listening to this type of music also enhances creativity. So, instead of listening to talk shows or the news on the radio, play some music that will relax both your mind and body as well as nurture your spirit.

Stretching - Stretching helps reduce tension in the body's muscles. You can use the stretches you normally use before and after your aerobic or weight workout; however, you'll want to do them deliberately and twice as slow as you think you need to. Breathe deeply during the stretching. Inhale to begin the stretch and slowly exhale as you complete it.

Visualization - To relax through visualization, close your eyes and create a relaxing scene with your mind's eye. So, if you enjoy relaxing at the beach, create a beach scene. If you prefer a garden, then create a garden scene. Create the scene with vibrant colors, sounds, aromas, tastes, textures, and emotion. So, if you find the beach a place of relaxation, perhaps you'd see the blue water and sky, white sand and caps of the waves, and green palm trees. You'd likely hear the waves, the seagulls, and the wind. You'd smell fish and taste the salt in the air. You'd feel the smoothness and the wetness of the water and the grittiness of the sand. You'd likely experience a sense of peace and serenity. The use of visualization can take you on a trip for little effort and without any expense.

Yoga - There are many types of Yoga -- Hatha, Kripala, Ivengar, Kundalini, just to name a few. Hatha is perhaps the most relaxing of them all since the postures are stretches that are held for an extended time and are coordinated with the breath. Classes in yoga are taught through community education, continuing education programs, health centers, and yoga centers. Ask others for referrals.

Hypnosis, Self-Hypnosis - Sleeplike condition, physically induced either by another person or oneself in which the subject responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist.

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