Sometimes we need to gradually slow the body down after a busy day, rather than coming to a sudden halt, and this exercise is fantastic as it gradually facilitates the relaxation response, activates both sides of the brain and allows the body and mind to settle. (Please note this sequence activates a genuine relaxation response in the body, which is very different from the ‘distraction’ based relaxation we often engage with, such as with watching television where the nervous system can still be substantially activated)
Lie on your back with your arms beside you (and feel your body in contact with the Earth) Be aware of the rise and fall of your abdomen as the breath enters and leaves your body. On an inhalation, raise your right arm up and overhead towards the floor behind you, as you exhale return the arm to it’s original position. Don’t force the breath, allow the movement to coordinate with the natural flow. Repeat on the left side. Continue alternating for a while, at least 2 – 3 mins. Next, on an inhalation, draw your left knee towards your chest, and as you exhale return it to the ground, before repeating on the right side. Again continue this alternating movement for 2 – 3 mins.
Finally, on an inhalation raise the left arm overhead simultaneously as the right knee comes to your chest, and exhale place both back to the ground before alternating to the right arm and left leg. This is known as cross-patterning and activates both hemispheres of the brain, bringing balance. Again continue for 2-3 minutes, then rest.