Progressive Muscle Relaxation

PMR is a simple method of systematic deep muscle relaxation.  By going through groups of muscles in turn, tensing them for a few seconds and then very gradually releasing the tension, deeper than normal levels of muscle relaxation can be obtained.  It reliably elicits the “relaxation response” and leads to a more general level of emotional and mental calm.

Begin by lying down flat on your back, or reclining in a comfortable chair.  Repeat each step below at least twice.  A session should take about 20-30 Minutes.

Relax the Legs

1.       Raise the right leg a few inches from the floor.  Arch the foot back and tense the muscles in the leg.  Focus on the tension in your leg muscles.  Hold the leg up for about 5 seconds, lower it down and relax it for about 20 seconds.  Notice the difference between tension and relaxation of the muscles.

2.       Repeat the same with the left leg.

3.       Repeat with both legs at once.

Relax the Arms, Neck and Shoulders

1.Make a fist with your right hand and bend your right elbow.  Focus on the tension in the right forearm. Hold it for at least 5 seconds and relax slowly for 20 seconds.  Notice the contrast between tension and looseness.

2.Repeat the same with the left arm.

3. Repeat the same with both arms.

4. Pull both shoulders up towards your ears, tense your neck and shoulders.  Hold for 5 seconds, then relax slowly.  Notice the contrast between tension and looseness.

Relax the Facial Muscles

1.       Rise your eyebrows as high as you can.  Then slowly relax them, until your forehead is smooth, relaxed and without tension.

2.       Now squeeze your eyes closed.  Then relax them, imagine all wrinkles disappearing.

3.     Now clench your jaw and bite your teeth together.  Then relax slowly until your mouth falls open.  (If you like you can add here a piece of a yoga pose, called Lion pose:  open your eyes as wide as you can, open your mouth as wide as you can and stick out your tongue as far as possible.  This is very relaxing to all facial muscles)

Relax the Breath

1.      Focus your attention on your chest.  Take a deep breath in, feel your chest and your abdomen expand, hold for 5 seconds and slowly exhale.

2.      Imagine a wave of relaxation slowly spreading throughout your body, starting from your lungs and spreading outwards to your fingertips and toes

3.      Let your breathing return to its natural rhythm, but try and breathe through the diaphragm, imagine drawing your breath up from the depth of your abdomen.

Relax the Mind

1.       Become aware of your eyes.  Allow them to not focus on anything that is in their view.  Soften all muscles surrounding the eyes.  Let the eyes become completely still, passive and inert.

2.       Count softly, out loud, from 1 to 5.  Repeat, but twice as softly and slowly.  Repeat several times, gradually fading your voice until you count silently.

3.       Do nothing.  Become aware of the organs and apparatus of speech, the mouth, tongue, throat, breathing muscles.  Let the muscles of speech become completely still, passive and inert.

4.       Remain completely inert and passive in this position for about 10 Minutes.

5.       When you are finished, take a deep breath, stretch your arms and slowly begin moving.