Before a long and challenging day at work, I sometimes find it difficult to relax at bedtime. As a result of this, I find it difficult to fall asleep, which makes it difficult for me to enjoy my work the next day. To counteract this, I have learned and successfully used progressive muscle relaxation.
The technique is simple:
1. Lie flat on your back in bed with your arms resting at your sides.
2. Slowly breathe in and out.
3. One by one, tighten and then completely and pleasantly relax each muscle, starting with the scalp muscles and moving down to the face muscles (eyes, lips, cheeks), neck, shoulder, chest, arms, abdomen, back, legs, and all the way to the toe muscles.
4. Repeat this process several times until you achieve complete relaxation.
The goal is to achieve a sense of complete weightlessness through total physical relaxation.
Ready to relax even more? Learn Shavasan (Shav means corpse, Asana means posture). You may initially find it morbid and dark, but it certainly takes the whole relaxation process a lot further. During Shavasana, you not only aim for a total physical relaxation, but also for a complete and total mental inertia.
How can you achieve Shavasan? Well, you go through above mentioned four steps, and then try to achieve a state of the compete thoughtlessness. You basically try to lay there like a dead person; no muscle tone, no mental activity, no awareness of external or internal activity! This is what makes this the toughest of all Yoga postures. But, with practice and patience, you will keep on improving. Keep trying and you shall sleep better.
Besides improving your deep sleep, the progressive muscle relaxation and Shavasan provides the following benefits:
- a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration
- a decrease in blood pressure
- a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen
- a reduction in general anxiety
- a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks
- an increase in energy levels and in general productivity
- an improvement in concentration and in memory
- a decrease in fatigue
Relax, sleep & enjoy life.