Relaxation

A 20-min yoga podcast accompanies this post. Prefer to jump right to the yoga? Just scroll to the podcast below. New to yoga? Please take 2 minutes to read this first. If you’re new to my site, please take a moment to learn about my yoga mission .

How are you? I’m recovering from illness. And my body is telling me: “Girl, you need to relax some more.” So I’m doing what we should all do in our yoga practices: I’m listening to my body. Perhaps your body is sending a similar message (it’s the end of the workweek and the start of the cold/flu season, after all).

Here’s a 20-min audio practice (access below) you can do from your yoga mat or even your bed. If you’re feeling run down, this brief session can help you feel more rejuvenated—there’s practically no movement involved, so there’s nothing to zap your physical energy.

In case you prefer to read instead of listening, I’m including a transcript of the practice beneath the audio player. Enjoy! xo

P.S. If you’re looking for a movement-based practice, you might want to try last week’s yoga video.

Slightly edited transcript:

From wherever you are right now: Observe your state at this moment. How does your body feel? What is your mood like, and what thoughts might be accompanying it? Where do you most notice your breath—in/at the nostrils, on the upper lip, with the rise and fall of your belly?

Once you’re ready to begin the practice, move with as much awareness as possible to your yoga mat. Feel the motions in your legs, sense how your feet press into the floor.

At your mat, slowly make your way down to your back (alternatively, if your batteries are low today, you can lie in bed for this practice). Walk your legs out wide, beyond the edges of the mat. Likewise with your arms—move them away from your body; keep your palms turned up, so the backs of your hands rest on the floor. Close your eyes.

Turn your attention to the back side of your body. Which parts can you feel being supported by the floor beneath you? Perhaps you’re extra aware of the shoulder blades and the back of your head meeting the cushion of your mat. Take a moment or so to note each physical feeling you notice, whatever it is.

Now for the front side. Which parts do you feel moving with the rise and fall of your breath? Since there’s nothing restricting your top side, explore the space above and around you. You might notice, for example, an indescribable feeling of expanding into this space on your inhales and a retraction from this space on your exhales.

Take both sides of your body into account simultaneously. As you breathe in, consider how the restricting element of the floor beneath your back provides the supporting structure for you to experience the spaciousness above and around you. As you breathe out, let go of that consideration and focus on the exhale.

Enjoy 3 intentionally long breaths, with your inhales originating from the belly. Feel your abdomen balloon outward, slowly, as you breathe in. And feel it softly deflate as you exhale. Complete the 3 rounds of breath like this. After your third exhale, return to your natural breathing rhythm, whatever that may be right now.

Again observe where your breath is most noticeable for you, at the nostrils or the belly or somewhere else.

Now that you’ve been tuning into the body and the breath for some time, take stock: What has shifted—or not—in your state of being? Has anything in the body changed? Is your mood different? What are your thoughts like at this point in your practice?

It’s not unusual for the mind to wander, so the breath is an ally in relaxation—it’s a reliable focal point. By tuning into the breath, we train the mind to come back to the present, where our bodies and our breathing are. Continue to observe your in and out breaths, from wherever they show up most dominantly. Make a mental note of any physical experiences that might pop up.

Transition the breath with 3 intentionally deep inhales and equally deep exhales, with your belly leading the way. After these 3 rounds, breathe normally.

Transition the body: wiggle your toes, clench your hands into fists for a moment, then release them.

Open your eyes, but don’t move yet. What is your state of being like now?

Slide your legs together, stretch your arms above your head. Elongate by pointing your toes and reaching through your arms and fingers. Then relax everything.

Roll onto one side. Pause there for a breath or 2 before sitting up. Then pause again before you stand.

I hope this relaxation practice has served you well today. I wish you a great week.

Share your thoughts.