Relaxation Techniques

A relaxation technique (also known as relaxation training) is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of pain, anxiety, stress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits, in this article we will be reviewing some relaxation techniques.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing or deep breathing is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing.

This deep breathing is marked by expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest when breathing. It is a form of complementary and alternative treatment.

Diaphragmatic breathing is also known scientifically as eupnea, which is a natural and relaxed form of breathing in all mammals. Eupnea occurs in mammals whenever they are in a state of relaxation, i.e. when there is no clear and present danger in their environment.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “12.7 percent of American adults [have] used deep-breathing exercises… for health purposes,”]which it describes as follows, “Deep breathing involves slow and deep inhalation through the nose, usually to a count of 10, followed by slow and complete exhalation for a similar count. The process may be repeated 5 to 10 times, several times a day.”

According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, “Diaphragmatic breathing allows one to take normal breaths while maximizing the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. It is a way of interrupting the ‘Fight or Flight’ response and triggering the body’s normal relaxation response.” They provide a video demonstration.


Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content,[1] or as an end in itself.

The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion,  love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.

The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way—for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of that training.

Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state—such as anger, hatred, etc.—or cultivating a particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state.  Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.” In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.

Transcendental Meditation technique


The Transcendental Meditation technique is a specific form of mantra meditation developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is often referred to as Transcendental Meditation, or simply TM. The meditation practice involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one’s eyes closed. It is reported to be one of the most-widely practiced, and among the most widely researched meditation techniques, with over 340 peer-reviewed studies published. Beginning in 1965, the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into certain schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the USA, Latin America, Europe, and India. In 1977, a U.S. district court ruled that a curriculum in TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) being taught in some New Jersey schools was religious in nature and in violation of the First Amendment. The technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.

The technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism, and as a non-religious practice for self-development. The public presentation of the technique over its 50-year history has been praised for its high visibility in the mass media and effective global propagation, and criticized for using celebrity and scientific endorsements as a marketing tool. Advanced courses supplement the TM technique and include an advanced meditation called the TM-Sidhi program. In 1970, the Science of Creative Intelligence became the theoretical basis for the Transcendental Meditation technique, although skeptics questioned its scientific nature. Proponents have postulated that one percent of a population (such as a city or country) practicing the technique daily may affect the quality of life for that population group. This has been termed the Maharishi effect.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique for learning to monitor and control the state of muscular tension. It was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s.

Dr Jacobson wrote several books on the subject of Progressive Relaxation. The technique involves learning to monitor tension in each specific muscle group in the body by deliberately inducing tension in each group. This tension is then released, with attention paid to the contrast between tension and relaxation. These learning sessions are not exercises or self-hypnosis.

A modification of the technique is “Biofeedback” in which one uses external measuring devices to indicate how successful one is in relaxing and then to use those techniques to relax without the help of external measuring devices.

In the training sessions which are started in a darkened room with the learner in a reclined position and eyes closed. The learner is told to relax, just let go. If the learner has any thoughts or physical distractions, just relax. Do not try to solve the problem. In each session the teacher reviews tensing one particular muscle group. If the student is slow in learning how to let the tension go for a particular muscle group, that group is focused on in the next session. The learner is told to continue to practice the relaxation technique in their daily lives. It is not our natural response to relax when there is an external or internal stimulant. However, as in many other physical conditions that we have no control over, the body’s best response would be no response at all.


is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using instruments that provide information on the activity of those same systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will.[1][2] Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception.

Biofeedback may be used to improve health, performance, and the physiological changes that often occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Eventually, these changes may be maintained without the use of extra equipment, for no equipment is necessarily required to practice biofeedback.

Biofeedback has been found to be effective for the treatment of headaches and migraines.