TAKE A DEEP BREATH & RELAX
Watch the tension melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish.
Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us.
Health Benefits of Deep Relaxation
Next time you switch off and let yourself melt into meditation remember all the physical, mental and emotional benefits of your relaxation. Some scientifically proven benefits include;
Immunity ~ Relaxation appears to boost immunity in recovering cancer patients. A study at the Ohio State University found that progressive muscular relaxation, when practiced daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. In another study at Ohio State, a month of relaxation exercises boosted natural killer cells in the elderly, giving them a greater resistance to tumours and to viruses.
Fertility ~ A study at the University of Western Australia found that women are more likely to conceive during periods when they are relaxed rather than stressed. A study at Trakya University, in Turkey, also found that stress reduces sperm count and motility, suggesting relaxation may also boost male fertility.
Irritable bowel syndrome ~ When patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome began practising a relaxation meditation twice daily, their symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea and constipation improved significantly. The meditation was so effective the researchers at the State University of New York recommended it as an effective treatment.
Blood pressure ~ A study at Harvard Medical School found that meditation lowered blood pressure by making the body less responsive to stress hormones, in a similar way to blood pressure-lowering medication. Meanwhile a British Medical Journal report found that patients trained how to relax had significantly lower blood pressure.
Inflammation ~ Stress leads to inflammation, a state linked to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and skin conditions such as psoriasis, say researchers at Emory University in the US. Relaxation can help prevent and treat such symptoms by switching off the stress response. In this way, one study at McGill University in Canada found that meditation clinically improved the symptoms of psoriasis.
Switch off stress ~ How can you use relaxation’s healing powers? Harvard researchers found that yoga, meditation and even repetitive prayer and mantras all induced the relaxation effect. ”The more regularly these techniques are practiced, the more deeply rooted the benefits will be,” Jake Toby says. Try one or more of these techniques for 15 minutes once or twice a day.
Body scan ~ Starting with your head and working down to your arms and feet, notice how you feel in your body. Taking in your head and neck, simply notice if you feel tense, relaxed, calm or anxious. See how much you can spread any sensations of softness and relaxation to areas of your body that feel tense. Once your reach your feet, work back up your body.
Breath focus ~ Sit comfortably. Tune into your breath, follow the sensation of inhaling from your nose to abdomen and out again. Let tension go with each exhalation. When you notice your mind wandering, return to your breath.
Mantra ~ The relaxation response can be evoked by sitting quietly with eyes closed for 15 minutes twice a day, and mentally repeating a simple word or sound such as ”Om”.
Guided imagery Imagine a wonderfully relaxing light or a soothing waterfall washing away tension from your body and mind. Make your image vivid, imagining texture, colour and any fragrance as the image washes over you.
Dr Herbert Benson ~ Harvard Medical School (assoc. professor of medicine), led research, that found:
- Deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level.
- Long-term yoga & meditation builds disease-fighting genes
- Genes switch on to protect from disorders such as infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis.
- ”The relaxation effect”, can be as powerful as medical drugs but without side effects.
- Relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and to the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue.
- Studies show relaxation has virtually the opposite effect of Stress, lowering heart rate, boosting immunity and enabling the body to thrive.