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Distinguishing Between Tension & Relaxation

Have you ever experienced a time of your life when things were just ok?  You got through your days with relative normalcy.  You had times of stress, pain, fatigue, and feelings of being “down”.  But yet, things were not so bad that you were restricted from doing the things you wanted to do; or worse, you needed help.  Maybe this way of being was “normal” for you.

And then, you tried something new and you were shocked that such a small change could elicit such a huge shift in the way you felt day to day.  If that small change had not occurred, you would never have known that you had the potential to feel entirely different.

Many new students who begin a yoga practice first notice that they are so stiff and their movements feel labored, sticky, and difficult.  After weeks or months of consistent practice, they begin to feel more at ease in the way they move, and in their daily experience of living in the body.  A consistent yoga and movement practice had made a significant change to their way of being.

Unfortunately in time, an event or change of routine can nudge a practice off course for a period of time.  The regular practice becomes neglected and the same student is unable to get back to their mat for various reasons.  Slowly the old sensations begin to creep back and they sadly remember how it felt living in a tired and stiff body.  

Thankfully, many students make their way back to their practice because they know there is an alternative to an undisciplined and sore body.  Through their practice, they have learned that they have the power to make changes in how they live so that they can change the way that they feel.

Occasionally in my classes, I include a simple meditation of distinguishing between tension and relaxation.  This is a basic meditation where we feel the immediate changes in our muscles and breath and overall body sensation.  Similar to a body scan we move through the body and we systematically create tension in the body by squeezing and intentionally tensing the muscles in our face or shoulders or fists etc. While we are creating tension and holding tension in the body, we explore our breath and notice how the tension affects the quality of our breath.  How does it feel to take a breath when we are tense in our bodies?  After sensing and exploring tension, I give the cue to let go of the tension and then notice how the body immediately relaxes.  We explore how our body automatically turns towards relaxation and the body wants to “let go”.  For some of us, “letting go” is only short term.  The tension habit has become so strong that a relaxed body is an unusual sensation. 

This is why our practices are so important.  It gives us the opportunity to play, explore, and try new things.  In our practice, we have permission to seek out alternative ways of being, breathing, moving, and living.  We learn that we have the ability to create our realities and we have the ability to change our realities.  This is power.  Stepping into our own power moves us towards living a life that is more balanced and fulfilling.  

Take a moment right now and feel your own body.  Do you have the power at this moment to release something that is holding tightly?  Perhaps a tight muscle, a nagging worry, or a held belief?  

Keep exploring!  You can practice this guided meditation, “Distinguishing Between Tension & Relaxation” in our CSY On-Demand class library.  

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