Maximize the benefits hidden at the end of class by taking students beyond the traditional cool-down into a deeper state of relaxation.
It’s common for the end of class to get hijacked. You run out of time, participants leave early, or you have to prepare for the next class. You can, however, learn to command, tame and direct energy and positively impact students. Use the following script to treat them to a reclining meditation designed to elicit deep relaxation.
Settling Down—Progressive Relaxation
“Please make yourself comfortable lying down. If you are feeling any strain in your lower back, please feel free to bend your knees, place your feet slightly apart and let the knees fall inward. Invite your body to rest, and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Let all the accumulated moments of your day fade. If you find that you are leaning into the future, gently bring yourself back to focusing on your breath. Drop into your body and remain as present as possible.”
“Now begin to tighten the muscles in your lower body: curl your toes, flex your feet, squeeze the muscles around your knees, tense your buttocks and activate the abdomen. Feel your entire lower body contracted; strong, tense and active. . . . As you exhale, let everything go and let the feet flop apart. . . . Fully feel any sensations that arise.”
“Now become aware of your upper body. Make a fist, flex your wrist, squeeze the muscles around the elbows and shoulders, draw the shoulder blades together and tense the neck. Keep clenching your upper body . . . tight, tighter, as tight as you can. Now exhale and let all that tension go. Turn your palms up as your arms rest beside your hips.”
“Start to feel the tension building in your jaw. Clench your teeth, scrunch all the muscles in your face, and close your eyelids as tightly as you can. Stretch the skin on your scalp. Keep holding, holding. . . . Exhale and release.”
“Now open your mouth as wide as possible, stick your tongue out and open your eyes wide, wider, even wider. . . . Keep squeezing. . . . Don’t worry, no one is looking! Now let all that tension go and release.”
“As your entire body relaxes, lie still and observe your internal energy rhythms.”
Going Deeper—Restorative Relaxation
“Close your eyes and roll them back as if to look at the space between your eyebrows. Let your internal gaze rest there; relax the muscles around your eyes. Swallow, and let your tongue rest near the back of your throat. Part your teeth inside your mouth and allow the jaw to slacken. Bring just a hint of a smile to your face and breathe naturally.”
“Feel the floor beneath you. Notice how it supports you, and sense the security that comes with that. . . . Become aware of the air around you and how it interacts with the exposed parts of your skin. You are embraced by the earth from below and the sky from above. ... Feel the reassuring power of this embrace.”
“To the best of your ability, keep your mindscape a sacred space. Imagine a vast, blue sky. The thoughts, images, sounds, internal dialogue and sensations are simply clouds passing through your sky. Sometimes they are dark, thunderous clouds; sometimes they are light, fluffy clouds; and other times the clouds just dance on the edges of your awareness. Allow the clouds to pass through your mind without reacting to them. Just rest, . . . surrender, . . . soften, . . . allow.”
(Long pause, 1–2 minutes)
Transitioning Back Into Life
“Breathe deeply. . . . Bring your awareness fully into this moment. . . . Gently wiggle your toes and fingers, ankles and wrists. Stretch your arms, open your mouth and draw a deep breath, purposely initiating the yawn reflex. Sigh out any stagnant energy. Draw your knees to your chest one at a time and give yourself a hug. Rock your spine forward and back, rocking yourself up to a sitting position of your choice. Sit tall, and bring your hands into prayer pose in front of your heart. Feel the energetic residue of your efforts today and acknowledge your commitment to health. Briefly recollect your inspirations and motivations for wanting to be here today.”
“Thank you for sharing your energy with me today. Namasté (or Be well, Take care, Good night, etc.).”
Marla Ericksen is the 2002 and 2007 Can-Fit-Pro Presenter of the Year, a yoga and meditation teacher, an international fitness presenter and a clinical exercise rehabilitation specialist. Learn more about her at www.marlaericksen.com.