In our busy lives full of expectations and demands from other people, it is important to take some time to yourself to recenter, relax, and enter a place of calm. If this sounds appealing to you, you’ve come to the right place. In this exercise, we are going to practice a technique called relaxation breathing.
Before this exercise, we must prepare our body with some preliminary mindfulness. First, stand up straight with your shoulders over your hips, knees, and feet. Become mindful of your body. Bring all your attention to your lower abdominal muscles. Notice their tension, and let some of it go. Now, stand on your left leg and try to move your right ankle as close as you can onto your left knee, just to wherever it feels most comfortable. Rest your ankle on your knee, and try to keep your body still. Next, do the same with your left ankle to your right knee. Once your ankle is resting there, remain still by limiting the movements your body makes. Now come back to a standing pose, grounded with both feet making contact with the floor. Extend both of your arms outwards in front of your chest, and bend your knees as you lower your center to the ground. Continue to drop until there are about three feet between your center and the ground. Now come back to a standing position. Great, now your body has been exercised, and your circulation has been stimulated.
Let’s get into some relaxation breathing. To start, breathe at your usual depth and pace, counting each breath after you inhale. Keep breathing this way, until you count 5 breaths. Now, think about breathing a little more deeply than you usually would. For each time you start an inhale to count your breath, bring yourself think of the word “relax” while exhaling. Breathe this way and count for 10 breaths. Once you reach 10 breaths, count back down from 10 to 1, continuing to think of the word “relax” to yourself as you exhale. Great job!
Now we’re going to guide our bodies through a finishing exercise. To start, simply stay standing, exactly as you are for a minute, keeping your mind present. Focus on the moment. Next, rotate your left ankle for a minute. Let it roll in a way that feels natural to you, without it bringing any discomfort. Move onto the right ankle, rotating it in the same way. Now, stretch your arms and legs by clasping your hands together, reaching to the sky and then to the ground. Finally, find a bed or a soft surface on which you can lay on. Stretch out on the bed and lay there for two minutes. This marks the end of the relaxation breathing exercise. Continue to rest if it pleases your body, remembering to breathe when it asks for nourishing air.
Allow yourself to return to this exercise any time you feel a need to relax, recenter, or take some time to invest in your emotional and physical wellbeing. Self care and care for others are symbiotic: one cannot exist without the other. Love yourself for loving yourself!
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