In psychology, relaxation is the emotional state during which we are not affected by influences such as anger, anxiety, or fear. It is when the body and the mind are free from tension and distress.
It is a state of being usually whilst engaging in a pleasant activity that makes us feel calm, peaceful, and less mentally active (i.e. taking a bath, doing calm Yoga techniques, having a massage, listening to music, etc.).
Being less active, we are triggering a chain reaction and a series of hormonal, cardiovascular, respiratory, cerebral, muscular, and nervous events, which in turn affect the whole body and brain in a way that can be described as both calmative and ecstatic.
Our Default Nature
Our innermost nature is to maintain a state of relaxation. Our body needs to experience calm and rest to function correctly.
The parasympathetic nervous system is our default setting when not facing danger. It allows us to conduct the day-to-day actions of life: eating, digesting, eliminating, sleeping, moving, reproducing, etc.
It is an anabolic process that helps us to build our tissues and organs, to develop our cells, and enhance growth.
When our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, our heart slows down, and our breathing calms.
Our body is in a state of relaxation, and this relaxation breeds recovery. As we don’t need to run, fight or hide, our body sends blood to our organs and away from skeletal muscles. We digest our food, make hormones, repair our muscles and build strength.
The more time we spend in the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, the healthier and happier we are!
Unfortunately, we frequently fail to achieve this state. Our daily life stops us from seeing the benefits of deep relaxation – purity, contentment, stability, and happiness.
The Preparatory Stages of Relaxation:
There are many ways to achieve relaxation. Some will be more active, and others like indulging in a profound experience by lying on the floor and listening to a guided meditation.
So that we can connect with the default calm and parasympathetic state, it is recommended to practice the latter version, a deep relaxation practice lying down. The body needs to be still and peaceful to receive the effects of the practice.
To achieve relaxation, we need to prepare to avoid any distractions:
- Choose the right time of day – when you are not tired.
- Cleanse the body – eliminate fluids and empty the bowels.
- Switch off any electrical devices – mobile phones, laptops, and computers.
- Choose a quiet place, your hub – no scents, sounds, or sights.
- Do some movement- gentle stretching, connecting with the body.
- Settle down – find comfort and keep warm.
- Find the correct position for the whole body – legs, arms, head, and back.
- Use props – cushions, bolsters, eye pillows, blankets (no bed).
What benefits do you get from the relaxation?
- It helps us to enhance our Well-being.
- It helps us to live a happy and healthy life.
- It helps us to live in our default nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- It supports the toning of the parasympathetic fibres of the Vagus nerve and connects us quicker to a relaxed state,
- It regulates blood pressure and heart and breath rates.
- It helps us to fight illnesses and ailments. The body readjusts, regenerates and heals when needed.
- It helps us to deal and cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
- It helps us to fight insomnia and sleep disorders.
- It improves concentration and clarity of mind.
- It helps us to build resilience against whatever life can throw at us.
Audio – Guided Deep Relaxation:
To download onto your device or computer: Right-click on the file > Save audio as…
Find deep relaxation practices in the following weekly online classes:
Mindful yoga and Yoga Nidra – Friday 18:30 once a month.