Oxygen is a vital element for every human body function. It is the holy-grail of life and breathing is how we taste this holy-grail. We all breathe but how often we do it consciously, almost never and this is where we lose the real essence of breathing. If only we start conscious breathing, our body will get more oxygen along with the numerous other known and unknown benefits, relaxation being one of them.
Breathing is the first pillar of relaxation. To begin with, deeply inhale and exhale and while doing so focus on your breathing (yes! Focus only on your breath…no distractions). You can also breathe through the nose and breathe out through your mouth (but in a slow manner). Try filling the air in your stomach (like we inflate a balloon) instead of short breaths that barely reach your chest. Once you are comfortable with this, you have achieved a healthy way of breathing which can potentially release a new wave of energy into each particle of your body. However, consistency is the key.
Once you have attained your hold on breathing, next step would be mindfulness meditation that is to inhale for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds and then exhale for 5 seconds. While doing this try to keep your mind off any thoughts (any thoughts mean every thought). You have to be in the here-and-now; parent in the present. Initially thoughts will bombard you but try not to get stuck onto them. Gradually, you will find thoughts fading and only few of them entering your mind. After some more practice you would find even lesser of these thoughts entering your mind. The idea is to reach a state of ‘Zero thoughts’, complete mindfulness of your breathing and a state of total bodily relaxation. The tip is to not hold on to any thoughts, just let them pass and trying to keep your mind as clear of any distractions. Once you reach this state, relaxation will automatically run through your body, night and day. It’s easy, just needs consistent practice.
Imagery is using the visual power of your mind to relax it. It is the imagination of neutral positive things that relax the mind. A simple way to use imagery for mental relaxation is by thinking about calm and beauty of nature. It goes like, thinking about a beautiful scenery, one that you have seen or simply imagining. Then once the picture of this beautiful place is in your mind, try to breathe and feel it. Feel the sky and its beauty, feel the trees and their greenery, feel the grass and the dew on it, feel the sand, feel the sea or ocean, feel the birds and their soothing chirping. So you think about something beautiful and calming and then try to feel the place, its beauty and calm.
For physical relaxation through imagery, imagine that each part of your body is completely relaxed, de-stressed and at peace. For example, you breathe in and while breathing out you imagine your legs getting relaxed and all the tension or pain being released. You can start with your legs, then stomach, chest, shoulder, hands and then face.
Practising Imagery is in particular very effective while trying to sleep or during any part of the day when you simply want to take your mind of things and relax. The tip is to feel the goodness of the image or place that comes to your mind, without any other invasive thoughts.
Yoga is a wholistic relaxation tool and need no special introduction for the same. Yoga has two aspects when it comes to its relaxation benefits, one is the practice of the ‘asanas’ or postures and the second is following the yogic philosophy in your daily life. Starting with the asanas or postures, their practice has been associated with good mental and physical health. It not only relaxes your muscles but also exercises your organs, something very essential for an all-round health and relaxation. However, there is a misconception, where people link the practice of yoga with body flexibility and hence do not give it a try, at all. Let me break this misconception. Everyone can practice yoga, irrespective of their age, how flexible their body is or put simply, their competence in twisting and turning. All you need is zeal to do it and there are 84 lakh yoga poses, waiting for you to choose from.
The next aspect of yoga is its philosophy. Yes! Yoga has a philosophy to life. In fact the practice of the ‘asanas’ or postures is just a part of the whole yogic system. The real essence of Yoga lies in its philosophy. The yogic philosophy is majorly derived from the ‘Yog Sutras’ of Patanjali and extensively cover the ways to live a healthy, balanced and relaxed life for both worldly and spiritual gains. Again the tip here is consistency and imbibing it in your lifestyle rather than a scattered practice.
To know more about yogic philosophy, read
Shake it up a bit and your body will heal. Dancing has been associated with good mental health and relaxation along with decluttering the mind. In fact it is being used as a therapy for many mental health disorders, including dementia. So easy, inexpensive and priceless. Sorry, can’t give any tips on this ;)
Playing a sport or exercising:
As with dancing, physical activity in any form helps in relaxing the mind and body. Again the health benefits of physical activity need no mention. Simply inculcating a physical activity in your daily routine will help you body to use the extra energy and induce muscle and mental relaxation. You can start with a minimum time first, I’d suggest 30 minutes at least and then you can gradually increase it as per your satisfaction.
This one is an instant one and one of my favourites. A body, head or any massage for that matter greatly relaxes the mind and body. If you don’t want to spend money on those expensive massages or spas, just grab a friend or family and humbly request them to give you a massage. It can be done with or without oil but gently. Another way is visiting a saloon and pampering yourself with a nice body massage (maybe on a monthly basis and the other days you can just seek domestic help). Whichever way, it will de stress you, and you will love it!
Remember, the key to relaxation lies in our mind and mind only. No external factor is involved.