Tranquil Hearts Yoga

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

woman lying on her back practicing progressive muscle relaxation

What is progressive muscle relaxation?

After a visit to the doctor, many people receive helpful advice to improve their overall health and well-being.

Sometimes, these suggestions may involve getting more sleep or finding ways to lower stress levels.

These changes can make a huge impact on both physical and mental health. For example, getting enough sleep is crucial for repairing cells, regulating hormones, and improving cognitive function.

By managing stress through relaxation techniques like deep breathing or Yoga, we can lower cortisol levels and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Following these suggestions can really enhance our quality of life and help us maintain optimal wellness.

Thanks for taking good care of yourself, and keep up the good work!

What are the benefits of PMR?

Progressive muscle relaxation, also known as PMR, can help to reduce the impacts of low quality sleep, and assist people with insomnia with falling asleep.

Studies have shown that numerous health conditions are connected to sleep quality and stress level, therefore recommendations from medical professionals to improve these areas hold significant importance.

Maintaining a regular and adequate sleep routine has been linked to a reduced risk of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Establishing this routine takes work, especially for those who suffer from insomnia.

For those individuals, progressive muscle relaxation can work wonders for beginning to feel tired at their desired bedtime.

Moreover, elevated stress levels may lead to an array of negative health effects such as hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and actively seeking out relaxation techniques may help in managing these symptoms.

It is essential that individuals heed the advice given by medical professionals to achieve and maintain good physical and mental health.


Progressive muscle relaxation steps

I always like to think that the first step to doing something is good planning.

Pick a time during your day where you are likely to not be disturbed.

If this is before bedtime, make sure you send your last goodnight messages so you can put your phone on do not disturb for the rest of the evening.

After you know when you’ll practice, figure out where: by your bedside on the floor, on a comfortable couch, or even in bed if you expect you’ll fall asleep during the exercise.

The next step is to find a recording that has a comforting voice to practice along with.

When you use a recording, you are able to focus simply on listening, allowing your mind to settle into the present moment of the practice.

The alternative would be to either memorize a script and recite it mentally, or record your own voice to play back for yourself.

Once you have your time and place, you simply have to lie down, press play and close your eyes.

Getting comfortable is another important step, and as you continue to practice you’ll find what works for you.

What I recommend is to have a soft pillow under your knees and head, a blanket nearby if you begin to feel cold, and a dimly lit room that won’t bother you through your eyelids.

woman in cozy blanket on yoga mat with night lights and plants

How do you do PMR?

The practice of progressive muscle relaxation is in the title itself: you relax each muscle in your body one at a time. In your script, usually the practice begins by setting the space.

We’ve done that by planning, and now that you’re in your cozy cocoon, a good practice is to take a few deep breaths to settle down.

You might be transitioning from a long day, and this is your first chance to take some soothing breaths.

After you’ve settled into your space, the progression goes from toe to head.

You’ll be asked to flex and add tension to each body part, only for a moment.

Following the tension is a release. The release is where the real work in the practice happens.

When you stop flexing a certain muscle, you let go as much as possible to feel the contrast between tense and relaxed.

This wave of flexing and relaxing moves up to the ankles, shins, thighs, abdomen, chest, arms, wrists, hands, fingers, neck, and finally, the face and head.

Depending on the recording, there may be more or fewer body parts to relax.

What you do afterward is up to you. You could play another recording of a yoga nidra to develop your mental body, or brush your teeth and go right to sleep.

You’ll notice what’s right for you by your energy levels after practicing.

If you haven’t settled down enough to fall asleep yet, try a short walk or a cup of decaffeinated tea.

There are tons of things that can help you bring yourself down in energy, progressive muscle relaxation is usually most effective as the last action before sleep.

Find your PMR practice

There are many options for where to find a recording for progressive muscle relaxation. 

You can start by looking at the Tranquil Hearts Yoga Library for relaxation scripts and similar exercises!

There are of course meditation apps like Insight Timer which have a library of playlists and recordings from teachers.

You can find them on sites like YouTube where there may be soothing visuals connected to the practice.

With your resources to get started all gathered, and a plan all set, you have everything you need to get started with your progressive muscle relaxation!

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