2.2 (K) Exercise for Tension Release
The idea is to slowly peel the layers away, one by one, and it starts with a constant reminder to relax. Recognize and release. This is a reminder to check in with our body. In my classes, every 5 min or so, I will state.. “take a moment to take a deep breath in, and as you exhale relax the jaw, the neck, and the shoulders”. Its amazing how many students tell me that those little reminders have tuned them in to how tense they really are. So, if we take this idea into our normal life, we can find moments during our day to “check in and release”. I found that, since I’m on the road a lot, that every stoplight, or stop sign, was a great place to take that moment. So, at every stoplight or stop sign, I would take just a moment to take in a nice deep breath, and as I slowly exhale it out, relax the jaw, the neck and the shoulders, and feel the body release.
It didn’t take long to realize the habit of tension I had developed. When I first started doing this exercise, I would release the shoulders every 15 minutes. But, I was already tense again by the next stoplight! So, you can relax, but within minutes, your body tenses again. Why? Habit. Muscle memory. The brain has gotten accustomed to the need to keep you safe from something. So, this will keep repeating and continuing, until you let your body know, you are safe. If the brain thinks you’re safe, tension will eventually release and let go. The more frequently I did this, and told my body I was safe, eventually, the habit started to break. Instead, of needing a reminder to stay relaxed every 15 minutes, I would go to a half hour, then to an hour, and so on. The less tension the body absorbs, the better the body feels overall.
Remember, this type of release is for emotional tension, and not the tension from the overworking of a muscle. Emotional tension is handled differently than an overworked muscle.
In order to become aware of your own tension, you need to check in with your body multiple times a day. Of course, it depends on how much time you are willing to give your body. The more time to give to yourself, the quicker the results can be.
So start with every 15 min. to every half hour, take a moment to take in a nice deep breath, and as you exhale to a count of about 7 or 8, relax the jaw, the neck, and the shoulders. Allow your brain to catch onto the concept of how good it feels to relax the body, and release tension.
What you will notice over time, is that you won’t need to check in every 15 min to every half hour anymore. You will be able to lessen the time to every hour, or every other hour, and so on. Once the brain recognizes how much better it feels to be relaxed then tense, and that you are safe, (and by doing this, you are telling the brain you are safe), you will start the process of complete tension release. And by stating “I am safe” while you breathe, will actually add to the level of release. We are letting our body, and our brain know that we don’t need protection. “I am safe”.
For me, since I’m on the road a lot, I continue to use stop lights and stop signs to do this exercise. Every stop light, I will breathe in and exhale as I feel the release in my shoulders.