Today’s big idea is that there are two stress reduction activities that you can do at home. They only take a tiny bit of equipment, but nothing more exotic than a couple of blankets or a pillow. They can both be accomplished in about 20 minutes. And they can really transport you to another state of being. They are how you take this longing to feel better and turn that into actually feeling better.
Listen to the Podcast Here
The first 20 minute or less relaxation technique I want to share with you is Constructive Rest
This is the fundamental pose of the Alexander Technique, which teaches you how to use your body and hold it in space with minimal effort and maximum ease. While you can go and take lessons with an Alexander Technique teacher–something I have done and got a ton of value out of, especially after motherhood wrecked my body, all that holding of kids on my left hip and cradling babies in my arms and starting down at them adoringly. You can also practice constructive rest on your own, at home, and it can be a profound piece of your self-care routine because it ushers you into a physiological state of relaxation.
In addition to helping you profoundly chill out, constructive rest can also relieve back pain, remedy poor posture, and help you feel more at home and at ease in your body. It is a beautiful way to take care of yourself, physically and mentally. And it really just requires lying down and breathing.
There’s a specific way to lie down during constructive rest, and here’s how you do it:
Lie on the floor with the back of your head—not the back of your neck–resting on one or two books or three or four magazines, so that your forehead is slightly higher than your chin. Then bend your knees and bring your feet to the floor. Scooch them around until you find a spot for them where your knees can stay pointed up toward the ceiling without you having to exert even a lick of muscular effort in your legs.
If that foot position is hard to find, place a throw pillow between your knees and let your knees fall in toward each other, or roll up a few blankets or towels and place that rolled bundle under the backs of your knees–your feet can move farther away from you if you go the blankets under the knees route. Then your elbows rest on the floor and you can place your hands, palms down, on your belly.
You stay here and really, just breathe
If you want to take it to another level, you can travel through your body, starting at the top of your head, and invite each body part to relax. Think of your head and say silently to yourself, I invite my head to relax. Keep going until you’ve reached your toes. Once you get here, I think you’ll find it’s easy to stay for at least 10 minutes, and as long as 20. It resets all the muscles in your body to their natural, ideal state of tone, so you are exerting way less effort, which can either energize you, or make you sleepy, so you may want to experiment with when you do it.
It’s a great way to undo some of the tension of sitting, so I like to do it at the end of they day. To come out, you want to slowly roll to one side and use your arms to press into the floor in order to push yourself back, letting your head be heavy, so that you don’t jostle your nervous system by just popping back up.
The second 20-minute stress reduction exercise is yoga nidra
It means yogic sleep and it’s a guided progressive relaxation that eases you into a state that’s in between asleep and awake where you are profoundly relaxed and at ease. SO unlike constructive rest, yoga nidra is something that you are guided through by a teacher. And thanks to the wonder of the internet, you can find yoga nidra videos on YouTube that talk you through the full practice. I recently heard from a coaching client that she had tried one of them and she said it worked great, and that she was so relaxed that she was vibrating. To which I say, good for you.
And, do it again!! Do it every day if you can!! Almost all of us have an excess of tiredness and of stress, and it can take a while to work through the backlog. The more you can make spending time in true relaxation part of your daily experience, the stronger, wiser, and happy you will feel.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So, those two practices again are constructive rest and yoga nidra. Your tiny assignment is to choose just one of them to do TO-DAY. You can do them at any point during the day–if first thing in the morning is the freest time of day for you, do it then–in other words, you don’t have to wait until you’re stressed, ha. You can get out ahead of it and head in to the rest of your day feeling serene and restored.
I hope you’ll tune back in tomorrow when I’m covering three stress reduction methods that are done for you–meaning, you visit a practitioner–and in the course of about an hour, you really go into the healing zone of relaxation where you can not only chill out, but also encourage your body to start healing from within. These are great options for times when maybe you need a little bit more help, and a little bit more restoration.