Educator Self-Care Series: Relaxation Technique 1: Body Scan
Welcome. This module will walk you through how to use your own attention and awareness to scan the body for areas of tension, stress, and resistance that can be released to induce relaxation.
In this exercise you will be focusing intensely on the sensations in your body.
Many of us find this deeply relaxing but sometimes this kind of focus on these sensations in the body may bring up uncomfortable feelings.
If the feelings become overwhelming, please stop the exercise and talk with a trusted friend or consult one of the resources we have posted on the website.
This exercise is best done lying down if you’re able. This way you can more easily release effort from the body.
If lying down isn’t possible, you can also do this exercise seated or even standing, if necessary.
Before beginning, get as comfortable as you can so that you can release effort from your body.
Once you are situated, feel the parts of your body that are in contact with the seat or ground that is underneath you. Feel that support and try to relax the weight of your body into it.
Close your eyes if you’d like.
Take a slow, easy breath in. Hold it for just a moment… and now breathe out fully.
Take two more slow and steady breaths.
Begin by bringing your attention to your feet. Begin to relax into the toes.
Relax one toe at a time.
Now shift your awareness to the arches of your feet. You might notice if you can relax any tension that you’re holding.
Bring your awareness into the tops of the feet and feel an ease moving up into your ankles as you relax the muscles of your ankles, calves, shins, and eventually the knees—relaxing the knee joint by softening the fronts and backs of the knees.
From the knees, bring the awareness into your thighs. Use each exhale to relax the muscles in the front and back of your thighs so that you let go of tension in your legs.
Continue to move up the body and release tension in the hip joints by relaxing the muscles around your hips.
Continue to encourage this relaxation into your pelvis, and into the softness of your abdomen. As you continue to breathe smoothly, relax the muscles that surround the stomach and bring a sense of release into the muscles of the buttocks and lower back.
Feel the spread of your lower back, middle back and rib cage into the chair or floor as you consciously relax the muscles and let go of tension.
Continue to release the weight of the body into whatever you are resting on as you feel the upper back, shoulders, and the upper and lower arms release and relax.
Notice if you have any tension in the hands and try to soften any gripping or holding you are doing, bringing this feeling of release into one finger at a time until both hands are fully relaxed.
Finally, bring your awareness into your neck and throat, softening and letting go of any tension. Relax your jaw, your tongue, and the roof of your mouth.
Bring awareness into the sockets of the eyes and see if you can soften here and into the muscles of the forehead and scalp as you relax any effort remaining in the body.
Take a couple of deep breaths, using each exhale to relax throughout the full body.
Be aware of the full body as best you can. Take another deep breath and exhale fully.
Open your eyes and begin to move the body slowly as you are ready.
As you transition out of this exercise, see if you can maintain this feeling of relaxation continuing to focus on breathing deeply and softening through the body.