Progressive muscular relaxation involves actively contracting and relaxing them. When a muscle is tightened for 4 to 6 seconds and then released, it returns to a more relaxed state. This should be performed for the following parts of the body in turn — feet, legs, thighs, buttocks, stomach, back, neck,, arms, hands, jaw, face and eyes.
You may choose to get into this position before you exercise in order to prepare the mind for the exercise you are about to take, or last thing in the evening to help you sleep better, or at any point through the day when you feel the need to unwind and gather your thoughts. It will help you relax any tense muscles as well as lengthening the spine and widening and relaxing the torso.
• Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hip- or shoulder-distance apart. Keep your knees in line with your toes.
• Make sure your neck is tension free. Your nose should be level with your chin (you may need someone to check this for you at first). In some cases the chin can be higher and in this situation you should place a small pillow under the head for the neck to be fully lengthened and comfortable.
• Place your hands on the lower abdominal area so they form a triangle pointing towards the pubic bone. The heels of the hand should be perched on the hip bones and the fingers on the pubic bone. Rock the pelvis so you can feel how your fingers lift higher than your thumbs and your thumbs higher than your fingers as you tilt your pelvis gently forward and backward. Find a position where your hands are lying flat.
• Keep your hands on thefor the initial awareness of your breathing.
• Breathe in and feel your torso lengthen and your ribcage lift.
• Breathe out and allow your shoulders to soften, drop and open.
• Breathe in wide.
• Breathe out and let your shoulders relax some more.
• Breathe in and focus on your ribcage.
• Breathe out and feel your ribcage soften and relax down towards the floor. As you breathe think of the ribcage melting down into the floor.
• Breathe in.
• Breathe out and focus on releasing inner tension.
• Breathe in.
• Breathe out and feel the hips softening.
You can spend as long as you need in this position, focusing on any specific area of your body that is particularly tense. Use each exhalation to release and let go, feel your body getting rid of any tension and melting into the floor. This is a great thinking position and a place to gather your thoughts in times of stress. Remember that stress generally builds upwards through the back, which is why we notice it more in the shoulders. It’s time to let go in this simple exercise.