About the series
You can download the full series here:
We live in a world that is hyper-stimulating, infinitely distracting, rapidly evolving and relentlessly accelerating. We’re under constant pressure to be stronger, fitter, smarter, richer and more productive, and it’s completely overwhelming. In order to be effective and to enjoy our lives, we need to learn how to oscillate between periods of full engagement and times of rest and renewal.
Most of us already excel at going faster, longer and harder, but we need help slowing down. We have to give ourselves permission to disengage and allow our neglected bodies and over-stretched minds time to rest and rejuvenate.
The workouts in the Relaxation series cycle through 4 phases that are designed to soothe your body and calm your mind.
1. Conscious breathing
When you're overly stressed or experiencing anxiety, your sympathetic nervous system or ‘fight or flight’ mode is in overdrive. Your heart rate increases, your muscles contract and your breathing gets short and shallow. The simplest and most effective way to switch to the parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ mode is to breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm. This induces the relaxation response and increases a sense of calm and clarity in both your body and mind.
In this series, we practice 4 calming breathing techniques that act as natural tranquillisers for an over-stimulated nervous system: 4-7-8 Breath, Diaphragmatic Breathing, Box Breathing and 3-Part Breath.
You can practice these breathing techniques whenever you need to relax, de-stress or calm your nerves. They can also help if you have trouble getting to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing.
2. Mindful movement
One of the unfortunate side effects of our hugely demanding lives, is that we spend too much time sitting and not enough time running, jumping, climbing and playing, according to our design. This has a profoundly detrimental effect on the way we feel in our bodies and on how effectively we move. Restricted movement, especially in the hips, lower back, neck and shoulders can cause discomfort and prevent us from performing our best at work and in our athletic activities.
In the Relaxation series, we move slowly and mindfully through poses designed to mobilise the joints, restore healthy range of motion, relieve areas of tightness and improve ease of movement.
As you transition between the postures, try to focus all your attention on the physical sensations you're experiencing to increase your body awareness. This will allow you to deal more effectively with areas of pain or discomfort that you might otherwise ignore and let develop into injuries.
3. Gentle stretching
How good does it feel to stretch after a deep sleep or a long time stuck in the same position? We instinctively move in a way that realigns our bodies and releases tension from our muscles after significant periods of inactivity.
In the Relaxation workouts, we cycle through backbends, forward bends, sidebands, twists and hip openers to relieve tightness throughout the body. After a few sessions, you'll find that muscular tension caused by stress, injury, inactivity, poor health, pain or overtraining is released.
4. Somatic (body) meditation
"There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy." Friedrich Nietzsche
At the end of the workouts, when your body is in a state of deep rest and relaxation, I'll guide you through a short meditation. Focussing on your breath and the sensations in your body will give you a brief escape from the incessant flow of thoughts in your mind.
Here are some of the well-substantiated benefits of meditation:
- It quietens restlessness and agitation in the mind.
- Gives you peace from worries, regrets, rumination, and overthinking.
- Teaches you to be more aware of the manifestation of stress and anxiety in your body.
- Relieves anxiety.
- Helps you to develop a greater capacity for focus and concentration.
- Reduces the psychological suffering caused by physical pain.
- Improves your mood and general sense of wellbeing.
- Enhances your sleep quality.
The most powerful effect that I have personally experienced from a regular meditation practice is an ability to observe a desire, craving or compulsion without necessarily having to act on it.
I notice when I go to check my Facebook likes in the middle of writing a post, order a chocolate brownie with ice cream when I'm already full to bursting or reach for my phone when I’m having a drink with friends. When I'm being consistent with my meditation practice, I can observe this desire or compulsion, pause, and then let it go. Time slows down just enough to give me a brief moment to check in with what I really want and respond to the situation in the most effective and healthy way.
There are 3 different meditation techniques for you to try in the Relaxation series: Body Scan Meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Guided Meditation.
Try the Relaxation series
Maintaining a consistent relaxation practice will help you to feel calmer, less fragmented, more effective and therefore better able to enjoy your life and your relationships.
You can download the full series here:
And FOLLOW me on Instagram @yoga15abi for more free resources to help you improve your balance and agility.