I have over 10 years of experience in the alternative healing and energy fields as a healer and learner of the ancient healing sciences.
Your Body on Relaxation
When someone tells you to relax after a busy or hard day, it may seem impossible. It's not a switch that turns on or off and allows you to simply settle for the evening.
That's because your body runs on chemicals that tell you to be active, have higher levels of stress, or to move quickly. In most instances, relaxation requires methods to turn this off and to slow down.
In order to begin to relax, your body's chemicals need to switch, allowing the parasympathetic nerves in your body to slow down. This is created by increasing the amount of serotonin in your body and reducing chemicals such as adrenaline.
Most consider an increase in serotonin during sleep, allowing the body to restore during these times. However, it's just as important to get the same effect at other times of the day, allowing you to maintain balance and to reduce stress under different circumstances.
Yoga for Relaxation
Yoga Moves for Relaxation
The science of Yoga is able to support a sense of deep relaxation. Many of the moves are designed for heat building and movement, which causes the majority of individuals to practice in the morning.
However, different sequences can be used as effectively before bed or when you want to relax, allowing you to slow your mind and body down and increase levels of serotonin.
1. Child´s Pose. Start this move by sitting on your heels and supported by your knees. Bend forward so your back is completely stretched. Reach your hands out so your arms are completely stretched. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for at least 2 minutes.
2. Inversion. Lay flat on your back. Take your legs and place them against the wall so they are straight up. Hold this for 2 minutes. This reverses your circulation and helps your body to slow down and balance.
3. Reclined Bound Angle Pose. Lie in your back. Bend your knees until both feet are touching and form a diamond shape with your legs. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly to support your nervous system so it slows down and begins to regenerate.
Aromatherapies for Relaxation
Add into slow movements with aromatherapies that will support slowing down of your nervous system while helping you to calm down.
1. Lavendar. Scientists have now found that lavender is not just a relaxant because of the smell of the aroma oil. It directly impacts the neuromuscular system, allowing the mind and body to re-balance with the smell.
2. Chamomile. Used as both a scent and a tea, chamomile has the ability to increase serotonin levels and support your way to sleep.
3. Sandalwood. Considered an ancient and sacred scent in Indian and South East Asian cultures, sandalwood supports relaxation and focus, specifically known to reduce chemicals that cause stress and anxiety.
Breathing and Meditation
Breathing is one of the most looked over but effective techniques to re-balance and relax the mind and body. There are specific types of breathing that slow down the neurological system, allowing the chemicals to change to higher levels of serotonin.
It is known that short breathing causes stress. It sends a message to our body that we need to move quickly and may be in danger. Historically, it was used as a flight or fight tactic to move us out of a fear based scenario. Despite not having these scenarios, we continue to use shortness of breath, causing unwanted stress and anxiety.
To change this, breathe from your belly, or diaphragm. Slow down the breath with deep inhales and exhales. Count your inhales to 4, hold for 2-4 counts and exhale for 4 counts. The slower you breathe, the more relaxed you will become.
You can turn the focus on the breath into a meditation that allows you to move into a state of calm. It is known that 10-15 minutes of slow breathing will also support activation of your neurological system so it becomes balanced and is no longer stressed.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Relaxation
Ayurvedic herbs and foods can also support the chemical changes your body needs to relax. Combining certain herbs with aromatherapies and other practices will further support the release of stress and anxiety while moving into relaxation.
1. Ashwaganda. A special herb from India, Ashwaganda is known to reduce nerve system responses from a state of stress into one of relaxation.
2. Jatamasi. Known as directly targeting and reducing stress, this herb offers a powerful and potent formula to keep you relaxed.
3. Brahmi. Known as the king of herbs, this herb is used for those who have too much mental stimulation. It helps to support relaxation and rebalance within the mind.
Relax Your Atmosphere
Sound for Relaxation
Your environment makes a difference in your ability to relax. A simple way to set up a surrounding that supports settling down is with sound. This will help you to reduce nerve reactions and to respond to the surroundings.
The lower a sound is, the more the vibration will slow down your nervous system. The vibrations move at a slower rate, causing your nerves to respond and to begin to slow down and harmonize with the sounds.
You can also use frequencies that are known to slow down your mind. 432 HZ are known to release higher levels of dopamine and serotonin. You can also look at Delta waves, which are at 3.2 HZ and support deep sleep.
Ocean sounds, the water element, and the sound of whitenoise has the same impact, allowing your nerves to calm down and respond with a sense of relaxation.
Set the Mood... And Relax
Using any of the above tactics alone will support relaxation and reducing stress. You can use these during the day when it seems like you are moving into higher levels of anxiety or stress. They are also impactful before you sleep so you rest more and prepare your body to change the pace of your day. Combining the techniques will also help you to increase relaxation and remain balanced throughout your day and evening.
1. Koulivand, P. 2013. Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013).
2. Kerekes, N. 2021. Yoga as Complementary Care. Frontiers in Psychiatry.
3. Cathers, M. 2021. Ashwaganda for Reduced Stress and Anxiety. Pharmacy Today.
4. Seppala, E. 2020. Research: Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress. Harvard Business Review.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Brooke Hart