How can we practice conscious relaxation?

Q:

How can we practice conscious relaxation?

A:

I have trained in conscious relaxation for many, many years, which allows me the skill of doing it in one breath or in three breaths, not 20 minutes of time. It is a formula that I developed that I'm finding people respond to very quickly. We practice it on our mat. We practice in real life.

The short form is a landing, which is grounding, arriving on the breath, which is not only allowing the breath to come and go on its own, but letting your mind pay attention to your breath, and your breath arrive in your body.

Landing, Arriving, Relaxing (LAR)

So it’s landing, arriving, and then relaxing on purpose. I called it LAR. It's one piece of an overall deep listening equation which is LAR-LAR.

On the First Breath

The first LAR is this initial relaxation or the pause that we can create. What I mean by that, is if I was on the phone with any challenging conversation, on the first breath I would feel my seat under my body or the ground under my feet. That’ll be landing.

On the Second Breath

On the second breath, I would bring my mind to trace the breath as it came into my nostrils and filled my whole body, and I’d follow it back out again. I would literally let my mind arrive on my breath as my breath arrives in my body.

On the Third Breath

Then the last one is that I would relax on purpose. I go to my habitual areas—my jaw, my shoulders, my belly. I do that all at once.

It’s like the feeling you get when you sit down after a really long day at work or like when you're travelling on a very long airplane ride and you finally get to your hotel and you let your bags down.

It’s an exhale where let go of your shoulders and your belly and your jaw. You relax on purpose for one breath.

So it’s land, I feel the ground under me or my seat, I’d follow my breath and then I relax on purpose—my jaw, my shoulders, my belly.

I get good at that. I practiced it on purpose all day long on three breaths. In fact, I literally set my phone alert me every two hours to do that. I do that all on one breath in an emergency situation, which is often—I have a 16-year-old!

It’s all the time.

One breath: I feel my feet. I feel my breath. I relax my jaw, my shoulders.

I remind myself that no matter what the struggle is, I'm allowed to create space inside with the struggle.

It’s not that it changes or it takes away a feeling or a circumstance or an event, but no matter what we have to be with—whether it’s joy or sorrow or anger or happiness—no matter what we get to be with in the present, we’re still allowed to have support of the earth and space of the breath.

That is at the heart of the restorative practice.

Learn more in Jillian Pranksy's episode of The Yogapedia Podcast.

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Written by Jillian Pransky
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Jillian Pransky, E-RYT 500, is the author of Deep Listening, an international presenter, mindfulness teacher, and certified yoga therapist. She created and leads Yoga Journal's Restorative Yoga 101 and Everyday Restorative and Yoga Anytime's Yoga For Anxiety show.

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