Numerous studies have confirmed the great effectiveness of the joint practice of relaxation and conscious breathing. Especially in our society under pressure where stress and anxiety problems continue to develop indefinitely. This stress, which has become increasingly chronic, has certainly contributed in large part to the success of yoga and its many forms and schools. Yoga helps us to relax body and mind and teaches us, through pranayama, many breathing techniques aimed at charging us with energy, purifying us and relaxing us.
When we are seeking harmony and fullness of body and mind, whether in the specific context of a yoga practice or in our daily life in the broadest sense, relaxation and breathing are the tools of choice for us. The vast majority of effective breathing techniques, as well as relaxation techniques, use this synergy of breath and release. We have all experienced this at one time or another, when we are well relaxed we breathe more easily, a relaxed body freed of a large part of its tensions, is more able to welcome the life force present in the breath. In the same way, when we breathe fluidly, amply and consciously, we can relax much more easily, a body that breathes comfortably will naturally develop and amplify its state of relaxation. In the end, when we adopt good breathing and relaxation simultaneously, our body is vibrant, alive and open to all its potential.
Relaxing and breathing consciously at the same time
Relaxation is a necessity in order to alleviate our tensions and to gradually get rid of those that make us feel tired and prevent us from living our lives serenely. We can relax physically thanks to certain body relaxation exercises, but also by relaxing our mind, because our mental and emotional state often overwhelms our lives. A good mental and emotional relaxation is therefore necessary in order to soothe our whole being.
The fact of relaxing and breathing consciously at the same time goes far beyond a simple breathing or relaxation taken in isolation, wonderful horizons open up in terms of well-being. Relaxation of the body facilitates the expression of the breath, which in turn amplifies the body’s ability to relax, creating a virtuous circle. It is a true synergy that is formed with a resulting effect that is much more than the sum of the two elements relaxation and breathing taken separately.
A large part of our tensions, especially those that have become chronic and limit our vital momentum, can then, at least in part, dissolve. Breathing and relaxing simultaneously is the key to freeing our bodies from their shackles and locks, to raising our vibrations and opening ourselves to our true life potential.
Concretely, when we are well relaxed, the flow of energy, the life force, the prana, is more able to make its way and circulate fluidly in our body, our breath is then able to free us from our stagnant energies and blockages, we then fill ourselves with tonus and vitality. A new energy charged with life and purifying circulates in our energy channels, the nadis, our chakras which act as real energy powerhouses will, for their part, capture this prana, transform it and redistribute it throughout our body, bringing us strength and vitality.
Some ways to relax quickly with the help of your breath
The more regularly we practice small breathing and relaxation exercises in our lives, for example several times a day, even for just a few minutes, the more energy we recharge ourselves. But there is another notable benefit to this virtuous practice, it is then much easier for us when stressful situations or tensions arise in our lives, to think spontaneously about relaxing and breathing together to calm those situations that affect us.
Relaxation and breathing that act in unison create a true synergy and act in a holistic and soothing way on all the envelopes or kosha of the body. The physical body relaxes and loosens, certain knots and tensions lighten or even disappear. At the vital level we fill ourselves with energy, the prana is diffused through our different nadis, and in our chakras which will distribute it in our body. Our emotions are soothed by this global relaxation, isn’t it good advice to tell a stressed student to relax and breathe well before and during an exam? Our mind is relieved and pacified as the innumerable thoughts we have tend to calm down and diminish in number. On a spiritual level, this mental calming facilitates a better connection to the greater whole and allows better access to our intuition, our inner guide.
Here are some types of relaxation exercises that can be practiced daily associated with breath awareness, in a lying, sitting, or standing position depending on the exercises. Often practiced in yoga classes, they are also easy to implement at home or outside when we feel the need, a few minutes will already be enough to draw many benefits.
We can relax :
- By scanning the different parts of the body as in the exercise proposed below while always keeping the thread of the breath.
- By contracting all the muscles of the body on one breath, from the face to the feet, then releasing them all in a deep exhalation. When exhaling, one can also visualize releasing all the tensions and negative emotions of the day.
- By feeling each part of the body as heavy, heavy, heavy… and even heavier on each new exhalation. By letting the body sink, sinking deeper and deeper into the ground or into our mattress if we are lying down.
- The opposite of the previous way, on each new inhalation, feeling our body as light, even lighter and lighter and lighter and lighter…
- By adding to one of the previous exercises a quality that will further reinforce this relaxation: an attitude of wonder, gratitude, joy, a benevolent affirmation, positive thinking, a ray of light…
- By being creative in a context or circumstances that lend themselves to it, because we are the masters of our breath, our body and our mind, and we can also be the creators of our well-being!
A simple exercise combining breathing and relaxation
Here is a very soothing and energizing exercise that you can do at any time of the day. Especially if you practice it for a few minutes in bed in the morning, it will allow you to start the day off on the right foot!
Lie down or sit down on a chair and imagine yourself as a rag doll. Become aware of the breath you have at that moment, your body is perfectly relaxed, all your muscles are relaxed, your joints are completely free. Throughout this exercise where you will scan every part of your body, your main thread will be breathing; you can come back to it at any time if you realize that your consciousness has momentarily wandered away.
Now relax each part of your body starting with the skull, the forehead, relax the area around the eyes, relax the cheeks, the ears, the jaws and the tongue. Then release any tension in the back of your neck, relax your neck, throat, arms and hands down to your fingertips. During this exercise you remain present at all times to your breathing, the breathing of the moment.
Then relax your chest, upper back and then gradually descend to the lower body. Successively relax the abdomen then the lower back, hips, lower abdomen and buttocks. Your legs and feet are relaxed and you are still in full attention to your breathing. This breath is gentle, fluid and uninterrupted, each new breath produces a little more relaxation in each part of your body while each area that relaxes releases a little more of your breath.
Now take the time to feel the free flow of your breath throughout your entire body and the relaxation of your body, take a little time to enjoy this feeling of calm, vitality and well-being that you are experiencing.
Good breathing and relaxation!
Written by Luc Enaut, Breathing Therapist, Breathing Coach and Energeticist.
Discover his breathing workshops offered on Yogadvisor.