Our bodies need to relax as much as they need to workout. (Note: I’m writing this blog for me as much as for you because I’m not good at relaxing) But there are a numbers of ways or parts of the body that we can relax throughout the day without adding relaxation time to our already busy lives.
For example be a little more self aware. I often notice that when I brush my teeth my shoulder is shrugged up to my ear and I can relax it. The other day, I was driving when I noticed I was arching my low back in a very alert position. My low back was tight. I relaxed. I think when we start to pay attention there are a lot of moments during the day like this. It’s not necessarily hard to relax, but we do have to think about releasing the tension that creeps in.
Today, when you get into bed check in with your body. Are you really at ease? Have you sunk as deeply into the mattress and pillow as you can? Is your jaw tight? Are your eyebrows furrowed? Is there a part of your body you can relax?
When you exercise, in order to do an exercise do you have to tense somewhere else? Think of leg lifts (the ab exercise where you are lying on your back with your legs in the air and you lower and lift your legs). Do your neck and shoulder pop up or strain? Think of any ab exercise with your head comes off the ground, does your neck strain when the head is in the air? Can you relax the part that is tensing or getting pulled out of alignment? Guarantee if you can relax the tense part, the exercise will get harder. That’s good. It means you are doing the work from a safe place and working the proper muscles. You’re shooting for great abs, not a bulked-up aggravated neck.
Then there is stretching. As with strength training we tend to think if it doesn’t hurt, it’s not working. You’re asking a muscle to relax and stretch in order to gain flexibility. But does it feel like it’s releasing and lengthen or does it feel like it’s fighting you? You can’t fight tension with tension. So next time you go to stretch try this: Get into the stretch you are doing and try to relax the muscle you are stretching. If you can’t ease up until you can. Not to say you won’t feel any pull, but you shouldn’t feel any strain. You’re trying to get the muscle to release. That won’t happen if it’s basically gone into its own version of flight or fight mode. It’s tensing for dear life because it doesn’t feel safe at the place it’s being forced. Take some baby steps and it will come along. Breathe and relax.