Health Magazine

Relaxation Techniques For the Mind and Body

By Adityasam @foralitelife
Relaxation Techniques For the Mind and Body You're a busy person - running around with kids, being a workout freak, working your butt off at work or just kicking butt in general. There comes a point in everyone's life when the pressure just gets to be too much, and you need a break from it all to relax and regroup.
Yoga can be a great therapy for people looking to regather their thoughts and relax their minds and bodies, but it's not always for everyone. Maybe you don't have time to practice yoga every day, or maybe you have an injury that prevents you from doing it. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to take the principles and beliefs that comprise yoga and apply them to other aspects of your life to help you relax your body and soul.
Deep and concentrated breathing is a key element of many yoga practices, and it's something that you can easily do throughout your day to help you relax. There are a couple of different deep breathing techniques to work on and practice until they help you release tension.
First try closing your eyes and breathing through your nose. Take a deep inhale, then try to make the exhale last twice as long as the inhale did. Make sure the breathing is something you can keep up for a while. This is a great technique to try right before bed, but make sure you clear your mind before you begin and focus solely on the intent of relaxing.
If you're at work and need a break to relax, try sitting straight up in your chair, placing one hand on your chest and one on your lower abdominal area. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling the hand on your lower abdominal move away from your body as your stomach expands to take in the air. Then push the air out of your mouth and feel that same hand lower as you exhale. This is called abdominal breathing - try to make sure the hand on your chest stays relatively still while focusing on making the hand on your stomach move.
If you're running out of steam during the day and find that you can't quite focus, try stimulating breathing for a feeling similar to that just after a good workout. For this technique, breathe in and out through your nose as quickly as you can. Try to keep the length of the inhale and the exhale the same, and do it for about 15 to 20 seconds the first time you try (you may feel out of breath if your lungs are "out of shape"). As your lungs get stronger, you can practice for a longer time. The quick breaths will send small oxygen "shocks" throughout your body to invigorate your muscles and energize your mind and body.
There are a few relaxing stretches to try when you feel your stress levels raising through the roof. A standing torso stretch can help balance mind, body and soul, and is an easy stretch to do at any time during the day. Simply stand up tall and reach your hands up over your head (if you have a bar or stick or any sort, it'd be a good idea to hold it over your head to help balance your body). Connect your fingers at the top, and as you inhale, lean your arms over your head to the right side to stretch out the oblique area, and exhale as you stretch your body back to center. Inhale again, leaning to the other side this time, and exhale once again as you come center.
Most people carry a large amount of stress in their necks, so a simple neck stretch can be a great way to take a break from the stress and stretch it out of your body. Sit up straight in a chair, close your eyes and let your head fall forward so your chin is at your chest. Inhale, and let your head roll to your right shoulder, as if you're going to touch your ear to your shoulder. Exhale as you let your head roll back to center. Inhale again and roll to the left, and exhale to the center. Slowly lift your head and open your eyes.
Stress can also often cause back pain, especially in the lower portion of your back. It is estimated that nearly 31 million Americans suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives. If you're one of them, try this easy low back stretch, especially if you've been sitting for an extended period of time. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Left your left ankle and rest it on your right knee to open up your hip and stretch out the lower back. Exhale as you drop your foot back to the floor. Inhale as you then lift your right foot to rest it on your left knee, and exhale when you drop your foot.
A lot of the stress we suffer from in love stems from our hectic lifestyles as Americans. We can combat this unnecessary stress and anxiety, though, by practicing a few extra techniques and making a couple additional small changes.
First, practice meditation. Deep breathing will help with this, but start by putting yourself in a quiet place and focusing on relaxing. Get a picture in your head of something positive or peaceful and concentrate on it as you practice your deep breathing. If you're laying down, use your mind to relax your entire body by focusing on one muscle at a time and consciously making it relax. Before you know it, your entire body will feel stress-free and completely relaxed.
Try spending some extra time with your pets. Pet therapy is a proven means of relaxation. Observe how relaxed your pet always seems, talk to them about the stress or anxiety you are feeling or simply cuddle up with them and enjoy the company. Pets aren't called "man's best friend" for nothing! Use their relaxed personalities to help you relax yourself.
If you're constantly around negative people who tend to be more stressed than others, build an invisible shield between you and the negativity. If you're going to all of this extra effort to relax yourself, you shouldn't negate your efforts by letting other stressed out people affect you. Visualize yourself in a cocoon that separates you from these peoples' negativity.
Lastly, surround yourself with people who comfort and relax you. Do things that you enjoy doing and find to be relaxing, don't neglect them because you are "too busy." Dealing with stress can be a time consuming effort in and of itself, but it's worth making the time for if you want to live a relaxed, stress-free, successful life.
Maya Richards is a freelance writer who works closely with The Life Divine, a Martha's Vineyard-based retailer specializing in yoga inspired jewelry and inspired gifts for the body and soul. She practices her own relaxation techniques every day of her life and lives a happy and successful life with her family of 4 (6 if you count the dogs).

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