When you are in a relaxed state the tension melts from your muscles, all those niggling worries seem to vanish from your mind. Drifting in and out of wakefulness, you feel peaceful and somehow replenished, Whether achieved through massage, guided meditation or yoga, instinctively we all know that deep relaxation is good for us.
Research has found that deep relaxation switches off disease-causing cells, while switching on cells that actively protect us from conditions ranging from high blood pressure to pain, infertility and even arthritis. The changes according to research are the result of what is called ‘the deep relaxation effect’, a phenomenon that could be as powerful as any drug – but without the side effects.
A group study from Harvard Medical School found that after two months of practising relaxation exercises every day, genes that help fight inflammation, kill off diseased cells and protect the body from cancer and other forms of damage all became active. Plus the benefits increased with regular practice.
“This research is very exciting, it shows how our state of mind affects our body on both a physical and energenetic level”, says Annie Moore from Vidatherapy. It also explains how relaxation induced by massage and meditation plays a role in healing and preventing illness. So why is the relaxation effect so powerful?
The effects of stress on heart rate, blood pressure, immunity and brain activity are well documented. Under stress, the body’s energy is channelled towards survival, this is known as the fight and flight response – stress hormones are released, heart rate rises and blood pressure shoots up. Our muscles contract and tighten and non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion close down.
Unfortunately deep relaxation isn’t the sort of unwinding you do with a cup of tea or lounging on the sofa. What you are looking for is a state of profound relaxation where tension is released from the body on a physical level and your mind switches off completely.
There are various techniques we can adopt to encourage deep relaxation and improve better digestion, memory and immunity. The more regularly you practise, the greater the benefits will be. Practice the following for 15 minutes once or twice a day –
Breath Focus: Sitting comfortably, become aware of your breath; inhale in and out through your nose. Scan your body while you breath, starting at your head, slowly work down to your arms and feet, observe how you are feeling. Are you tense or anxious? Once you reach your feet, work back up your body, scanning each limb, muscle and organ.
Focus on letting go of any tension in your body and be aware of how your breathing pattern changes from short breaths to slow deep breath and then complete stillness.
When our body and mind are still we are able to achieve peace and deep relaxation.
Annie Moore MCThA, RCCA. For a free consultation call 020 8164 1199, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vidatherapy.com