Introduction

This part of the site was developed by Bernd Harmsen. The Progressive Muscle Relaxation method was invented by Edmund Jacobson. The basic idea is to systematically train tensing and relaxing groups of muscles. During the first sessions of a course each group of muscles (forearm, upper arm and so on) is exercised separately. Later these exercises are combined so that at the end you should be able to relax the whole body at once. Trained athletes only have to concentrate on the relaxed state to relax their body. Between the lessons regular daily practice is required.

I mainly use this technique for training body awareness. While tightening and relaxing the muscles you also improve your sense of tensions versus relaxation. This further gives you a better (internal!) control of the progress of other relaxation methods like meditation. This page describes:

At the bottom you will find a link to a three-lesson training to master this skil.

Relaxation Program: complete form

All exercises are done sitting in an upright position. The eyes may be closed.
Each group of muscles is tightened and the tension held for about 5 seconds, then relaxed for about 30 seconds. While focusing the inner perception on the muscles just exercised you will sense that the process of relaxation progresses a little after releasing the tension. Each exercise is repeated once. In the complete sequence the following groups of muscles are trained in the given order:

  1. Right hand and forearm (by making a fist)
  2. Right upper arm (bending the arm and tightening the muscles)
  3. Left hand and forearm
  4. Left upper arm
  5. Forehead (raising the eyebrows)
  6. Eyes and cheeks (squeezing the eyes)
  7. Mouth and jaw (clenching one's teeth and pulling back the corners of the mouth)
  8. Shoulder and neck (pulling up the shoulders and pressing back the head horizontally)
    (imagine locking your hands behind the neck and pushing back the head against this resistance - that's how this should feel)
  9. Chest and back (breathing in deeply and holding one's breath, and pressing the shoulders together at the back)
  10. Belly (tightening the abdominal muscles (or drawing in the belly)
  11. Right hand thigh (shoveling forward the foot against resistance (while it keeps its position)
  12. Right hand shank (lifting up the heel)
  13. Right foot (crooking the toes)
  14. Left hand thigh
  15. Left hand shank
  16. Left foot

To reactivate the circulation at the end all participants breathe in deeply and move their fingers and toes. They breathe in deeply again and stretch themselves. They breathe in deeply a third time (and open their eyes if they were closed).

Relaxation Program: compact form

All exercises are done sitting in an upright position. Several exercises of the complete sequence now are combined.

  1. Right hand and arm (making a fist and bending the arm)
  2. Left hand and arm
  3. Face (closing the eyes, lifting the eyebrows, clenching the teeth, and pulling back the corners of the mouth (or just: grimacing)
  4. Shoulders and neck (pulling up the shoulders and pressing back the head horizontally)
  5. Chest, back, and belly (breathing in deeply and holding one's breath, making a hollow back, and tightening the abdominal muscles)
  6. Right leg (pulling up the heel, and pressing the leg forward and down at the same time)
  7. Left leg

To reactivate the circulation at the end all breathe in deeply and move their fingers and toes. They breathe in deeply again and stretch themselves. They breathe in deeply a third time (and open their eyes if they were closed).

Relaxation program: short form

  1. Both hands and arms
  2. Face, neck and shoulders
  3. Chest, back and belly
  4. Both legs

To reactivate the circulation at the end all breathe in deeply and move their fingers and toes. They breathe in deeply again and stretch themselves. They breathe in deeply a third time (and open their eyes if they were closed). It is quite important to perform this reactivation at the end of each training.

Online tutorial on Muscle Relaxation

You have to practise this to learn the skill, Bernd Harmsen set up this three lesson training:

Background

Material on this page provided by Bernd Harmsen 1996-1999.