In the previous article, we looked at how we can relax by focusing on our own breathing. Now we'll take a look at another relaxation technique, this time focusing on our body.
This one takes a bit more time than the breathing exercises. It is very suitable for creating a pleasant atmosphere and relaxing before going to bed. One of its benefits is that kids also learn to pay attention to their own bodies and notice signals. Thanks to this ability, it is then easier for them to realise during the day how their body feels and what it needs.
The core of the relaxing exercise is to guide children so that they focus on individual parts of their body. First, ask them to lie on their backs, their hands resting loosely along their body. Let them perceive their breath to start. Inhale and exhale three times, and then you can bring their attention to the body.
Start with the feet and work your way up to the head, or choose the opposite direction from the head to the feet. It's better to stay consistent and not jump from one place to another in order to keep your child's attention. Adjust the instructions to your child's age. For the younger ones, starting with the feet, focusing on the legs, back, belly and chest, arms, neck and head would be enough. For older children, don't be afraid to go into more detail. Examine the toes, knees, shoulders, chin, eyes and body.
Choose the way to guide your children, taking into account their age and nature. For example, you can go and greet each body part and say good night to them. Or you can become a little dwarf who has a lantern in his hand and lights up the body as he walks through it. It doesn't have to be a dwarf – it can be any other character your child likes. Also, it doesn't have to go on foot. What if it travels the body on a boat or gallops on a unicorn? You are limited only by your imagination. Older children or adults may also enjoy the idea of a clear stream that flows through the body and cleanses it.
During your journey, you can also stop in a place that is currently sore or sick. Give it a little attention. Wish it to heal soon and imagine how the disease might leave the body and how the place might heal. When we support our body in healing, we stop resisting pain or disease. This also reduces the tension connected with the resistance. In this way, we can relax more and thus aid the healing process.
You can also try a more dynamic option, suitable for children who find it too difficult to concentrate on the body. It is about creating tension in individual parts of the body, which you then relax afterwards. Tighten your legs as much as possible, hold for a while, and then release the tension with a long exhalation. Notice what it's like when your feet are relaxed. As if they belonged to a rag doll.
Move from the legs to the buttocks, tighten them, hold for a moment, and then release with a long breath. Do the same for other parts of the body. Tighten your belly, then your chest, clench your fists, stretch your arms, squeeze your teeth, close your eyes as much as possible, shrug your forehead... Finally, realise what it's like when the whole body is relaxed.
You will find further inspiration on how to guide children with this type of relaxation exercise in our bedtime stories. They can become a little explorer and learn how the body works as they go through it. Or would you rather spend the night under the stars and be warmed by a little star that has just fallen from the sky?
In the next and final article that closes this miniseries, you will learn how we can use our senses to relax.