When it comes to muscle relaxation, we move away from the common idea that we have of relaxed muscles. It has nothing to do with sport and a healthy and pleasant final stretching session. In this case, in fact, we almost enter into the field of meditation techniques, where the methods and skills to relax muscles with the power of the mind are different and more or less used.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Useful for those who suffer from sleep disorders but also for those who want to ease stress, the Progressive Muscle Relaxation was developed at the beginning of the last century by Edmund Jacobson, a surgeon strongly convinced that the thought and emotional state influence the level of muscle response, thus highlighting a direct relationship between muscles, thoughts and emotions. The particularity of this method consists in the contraction of the muscles that you want to relax, before realizing the relaxation itself: in this way the mind can grasp the differences between the muscles in a state of contraction and in a state of relaxation. After having performed a few times the proposed exercises, you become more sensitive to the signals of tension sent by the body and then to automatically relax the areas in tension. The Edmund Jacobson method induces an intense muscular rest, through which it is much easier to get to sleep.
In addition to being a natural healing method capable of restoring the psycho-physical balance through energy, Reiki is also an effective technique for relaxation and stress reduction. With the technique of self-treatment, through which all 7 main chakras feed on energy, you reach a state of deep relaxation, and also in this case, as for the progressive muscle relaxation of Jacobson, you risk falling asleep before finishing the treatment. Self-treatment of Reiki is very similar to a meditative state, the body and mind relax with a background music you learn to listen to each other. The benefits are immediately evident: a newfound calm and well-being spread throughout the body, where trauma, pain and inflammation decrease in intensity.
Developed by a German psychiatrist, Johannes Heinrich Schultz in 1932, Autogenic Training is regarded as one of the most effective relaxation techniques for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and stress. It is a series of self-induced relaxation exercises. At first you try to achieve physical relaxation, then you switch to pleasant and relaxing visualizations to recall sensations related to the five senses. There are six relaxation exercises: the first two are the basic exercises, the other four are the complementary exercises:
- exercise of heaviness, acts on the relaxation of the muscles
- heat exercise, acts on the dilation of peripheral blood vessels
- exercise of the heart, acts on cardiac function
- breathing exercise, acts on the respiratory system
- exercise of the solar plexus, acts on the organs of the abdomen
- exercise of the fresh forehead, acts at the cerebral level
In autogenous training, muscle relaxation, but also mental relaxation, is not the main aspect to consider, but is a “side effect” of the effects on one’s psychophysical balance, somehow changed after performing the exercises under the guidance of an expert in the technique.