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Relaxation classes

We have 3 classes that help with relaxation:

Relaxation with breathwork
Learn some calming breathing exercises that can help reduce anxiety and stress.
Learning and practising these breathwork exercises within your daily routine can calm the mind, reduce muscle tension and bring about deep relaxation. This may also have a positive effect on the nervous system and digestive systems improving our sense of wellbeing.

Relaxation through mindfulness
A time to Pause, Relax and Just Be.
Connect with others with a shared experience. Learn breathing and relaxation techniques. A mindfulness group for patients and carers affected by cancer.

Relaxation through yoga
Enjoy gentle yoga exercise and stretching with a qualified instructor.

For further information and to book onto any of these session, please contact The Lodge.

Alternatively, we can send out a relaxation CD to you by post. Or you could try relaxation Apps such as Unwind, Headspace, or Calm (others are also available on the App Store). There are also many guided relaxation videos available on YouTube.

Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management. Relaxation isn’t only about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress, and with stress related to various health problems.

Learning basic relaxation techniques is easy but you will get the most benefit from practising the techniques regularly. The more you practice, the more effective they will be. Relaxation techniques also are often free or low cost, pose little risk, and can be done nearly anywhere.

The benefits of relaxation techniques

Practising relaxation techniques can have many benefits, including:

  • Slowing heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Improving digestion
  • Reducing activity of stress hormones
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques regularly, preferably daily. Remember, relaxation techniques are skills. As with any skill, your ability to relax improves with practise.

Types of relaxation techniques

In general, relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of your body. It doesn’t matter which relaxation technique you choose. What matters is that you try to practise relaxation regularly to reap its benefits.

Our relaxation sessions include:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group.

    This can help you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You can become more aware of physical sensations.

    In one method of progressive muscle relaxation, you start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. You can also start with your head and neck and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for about five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.

  • Visualization: In this relaxation technique, you may form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation.

    To relax using visualization, try to incorporate as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body.

    You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot, loosen any tight clothing, and concentrate on your breathing. Aim to focus on the present and think positive thoughts.

  • Breathing exercises: Focusing of slow and deep breathing helps activate the body’s natural relaxation response and can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and bring your mind and body into balance.

Breathing exercise for reducing stress

This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.

You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine.

You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor.

Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.

If you’re lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight, or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.

If you’re sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.

If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip width apart.

  • Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
  • Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
  • Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
  • Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

Learning relaxation skills

It is recommended you start with ‘Learning relaxation skills’, before moving onto ‘Deep breathing exercise’, and ‘Deep relaxation skills’.

Click on the headings below to see each exercise detail.

With practise you can learn skills in deep breathing and deep relaxation which will help to ease feelings of tension. A good place to start is by learning the deep breathing exercise for relaxation. Once you have got the hang of this you may want to try out some of the other deep relaxation exercises. Do read through the general guidelines before you have a go at these.

General guidelines for relaxation

  • Choose a time of day when you will not be disturbed.
  • Make sure that the room is as quiet as possible (you may want to turn off your phone).
  • Lie or sit in a comfortable position on the bed or in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your arms lying comfortably by your side or in your lap.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • You should practise the relaxation routine at least once a day, more often if you wish.
  • Try to get into the habit of practising around the same time each day.
  • It is best not to practise straight after a heavy meal.
  • How soon relaxation exercises work varies. Some people get immediate benefit, whilst others find they need to practise for a week or even longer.
  • It’s often good not to ‘try too hard’ at relaxation: Don’t try to ‘force it’.
  • Most people find that their mind wanders when they first start practising – don’t worry about this. If your thoughts wander, gently bring your concentration back to the exercise.
  • During deep relaxation you may experience feelings of floating or tingling. You may ‘drift off’ or forget what you have heard. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
  • Remember, learning to relax is a skill and takes time and regular practise.

Do not listen to relaxation recordings whilst driving or operating machinery. If the exercises cause an increase in your distress or worrying thoughts do not continue without consulting a health professional.

Introduction to relaxation: 1 minute, 2 seconds

Download ‘Introduction to relaxation’

Guidelines for relaxation practice: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Download ‘Guidelines for relaxation practice’

If you would like to save copies of these audio tracks, right click on the download link below the player and use the save link option.

Learning deep breathing is the first step in learning relaxation skills. Being in pain can often lead us into unhelpful breathing habits. However, with a bit of practice changing how you breathe can make a real difference to how you feel. The first thing to do is to become more aware of how you tend to breathe.

Check your breathing right now!

  • Put one hand on your chest.
  • Put the other just below your ribcage resting on your tummy.
  • Just let your hands rest there for a few moments while you take a few slow deep breaths.
  • Notice which hand moves the most.

Your top hand moves the most: You are a ‘Chest Breather’. People who are tense and in pain often breathe using only the top part of their lungs and often tend to ‘hold’ the breath. This is not so good for relaxing and can be linked to muscle tension in the shoulders and neck and tightness in the chest.

Your bottom hand moves the most: You are a ‘Belly Breather’ or ‘Diaphragm Breather; This type of deep breathing is the best breathing pattern to give you pain and stress relief

In deep breathing, you are aiming to breathe right down into the bottom of your lungs. The big band of muscle that is underneath the lungs, called the diaphragm, then pushes down and this makes the belly expand.

Pain Service - Lungs

Deep breathing exercise – how to do it

  • Make yourself comfortable on the bed or in a chair. Loosen your shoulders and any tight clothing around your waist.

  • Take slow, gentle deep breaths down into the bottom of your lungs – as if you are blowing up a balloon in your belly.

    Pain Service - Breathing

  • Breathe slowly and don’t try to force it. You might find it helpful to count – breathe in for the count of 4 seconds and out for the count of 4 seconds. As you get the hang of it, try and slow it down even further. Find a pace that works for you.

  • Remember, your belly should be moving more than the top of your chest.

  • If you feel a bit dizzy or spacey it simply means you are breathing too fast and too heavily. Try breathing a bit more gently and slowly. Imagine that you are breathing out tension and tightness with each breath out.

  • Practice this at least 5 minutes every day.

Breathing technique: 1 minute, 2 seconds

Download ‘Breathing technique’

If you would like to save a copy of this audio track, right click on the download link below the player and use the save link option.

Deep breathing exercise – getting in the habit

It takes practice to get into the habit of deep breathing. To begin with it is best to practice at calmer and quieter times to give yourself the chance to get the hang of it.

When you have got the hang of the breathing exercise, you can use it to relax any time you get tense. With practice you will really feel yourself relaxing and letting go of stress, tension and pain. You might even sleep better.

Quickie relaxation exercises using breathing

  • One way of getting into the habit of deep breathing is to practice a few deep breaths whenever you do something familiar e.g. each time you go to the loo, have a drink or check your watch. Putting a reminder on your phone may help. If you can learn to ‘punctuate’ your day with short relaxations you will stop tension levels from building up as the day goes on.

  • Take your attention to the place that hurts. As you breathe in breathe towards this place. As you breathe out imagine breathing out from the place that hurts. This may help to ease your experience of pain.

  • Pain often makes you hold your breathe. Pay particular attention to your breathing when you are moving. Try and keep it coming from your belly in a slow and gentle rhythm.

The following recordings allow you to learn skills in deep relaxation. Do read the guidelines for relaxation before you listen to them. It is best to choose one recording that you like and practice it daily.

Do not listen to relaxation recordings whilst driving or operating machinery. If the exercises cause an increase in your distress or worrying thoughts do not continue without consulting a health professional.

Tense and relax: 11 minutes, 45 seconds
An active relaxation technique contracting different muscles to learn the difference between tension and relaxation.

Download ‘Tense and relax’

Passive muscle relaxation: 12 minutes, 15 seconds
Working through the body using your mind and breathing to let go of tension in the muscles.

Download ‘Passive muscle relaxation’

Autogenic relaxation: 17 minutes, 21 seconds
A relaxation technique using the power of your mind to build feelings of warmth, heaviness and relaxation in the body.

Download ‘Autogenic relaxation’

Special place: 10 minutes, 29 seconds
Use your imagination to relax parts of your body. Then imagine yourself into a special place image for deeper relaxation.

Download ‘Special place’

Visualisation: 16 minutes, 17 seconds
Using images in your mind to help relaxation. Be taken through imagining a rich sensory journey to help you to relax.

Download ‘Visualisation’

If you would like to save copies of these audio tracks, right click on the download link below the player and use the save link option.