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VideoRelaxing the Mind and Body

Relaxing the Mind and Body

By relaxing each of our muscles slowly, we can prepare the body for rest — and the mind will follow.

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When I worry, I feel my body just tensing up. When I'm focusing on what's wrong, it's, there's this swarm going on in my body and it's like this tornado is going around in my chest. Our mind and body are intimately connected. This connection is essential for helping us fall asleep. When we do meditation or diaphragmatic breathing, we activate an aspect of our nervous system that directly connects to our brain, and that connection and that outflow that happens is essential for helping us drift off to go to sleep. When I feel relaxed, I just feel so light. I feel positive. Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation technique where you go from head to toe focusing on different muscle groups, tensing them, and then releasing them. If I imagine it, it just, you know, my shoulders relax, I feel my belly soften. Like any technique, kind of the more you practice, the easier it gets and the more benefit you'll get. For progressive muscle relaxation, it could be done any time of day, but we found that it's really effective if people do it in the evening as part of your wind down routine to help you kind of relieve the tension of the day, allow your body to relax and allow you to get the sleep you need. Now, get comfortable as we move into an exercise to help you relax your muscles. Welcome to this progressive muscle relaxation exercise that can support your body in unwinding, relaxing, and letting go of any tension or tightness you may be carrying. In this exercise, we'll be moving through the body, gently tensing different muscle groups, holding for a moment, and then releasing and softening the muscles. In doing so, we're relaxing the body, but also learning to notice when the body feels tense. It's this awareness that can help us to get a restful sleep. At first, this may feel awkward. You may not notice a difference right away. However, over time and with practice, you'll be able to notice where you're holding on to tension in the body, and we'll know how to relax and let go. This is an exercise that can be used before bed or anytime during the day. One last thing to note is that it's important that we're not squeezing the body in a way that creates more strain and tension. It's a gentle squeeze, helping us to create conditions for the body to rest. If there's an area of the body that's in pain or injured, feel free to just notice this area instead. So let's give this a try. When you're ready, take a moment to get comfortable. If you can, lying on your back, allowing the arms and hands to rest by your side. And letting the legs and feet roll outwards naturally. Closing the eyes if that feels right for you and just taking some nice big, deep breaths here. Breathing in through the nose and out...


Duration7 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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