Progressive Relaxation For Sleep

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I was always bemused by the yoga pose ‘savasana’ (translated as ‘corpse pose’). We might start there during a class for warm up but we certainly ended up there to cool down at the end. What fascinated me was the sensation of truly letting go of my body weight into the floor. Sounds funny? Well, when we carry tension in the body we lift the body away from the floor. By consciously bringing our attention to each part of the body and commanding it to relax we let go and melt the tension away. As always if you have a medical condition or you are in doubt consult your medical provider before attempting these exercises.


If you have a yoga mat place it on the floor. A towel will do nicely. Lay your body down on your back. I recommend that if your lower back is sore bend the knees placing the feet flat on the floor and let the knees rest against each other. Lift your head and look along the length of your body. Is it in a straight line? If not adjust accordingly.

If the legs are flat separate them slightly and allow them to roll outward so the inner thigh points upward. Bring the shoulders all the way up to your ears then slowly bring them all the way down rolling them  back to open up the chest. Palms face up letting the arms move away from the body. Check your chin. If it is pointing up in the air there is likely tension in the back of your neck. Gently lengthen the back of the neck tucking the chin towards your chest then letting it relax. Close your eyes and observe your breathing.

Take a few deep breaths, in through the nose (if possible) and out through the mouth. As you do, scan your body. Where is the tension? If you find it, breathe the breath into this area and as your breathe out, consciously relax that body part. Indeed as you breathe in feel your body expand and as you breathe out allow your body to sink deeper and deeper into the floor with each out breath.

Progressive Relaxation

The above may be enough to help you drift off to sleep. If not bring your thoughts to each body part in turn. Start with the feet and say out loud (more effective) or into your mind ‘feet, relax, relax’. Imagine as you say it, you are as relaxed as you have ever been. Move your consciousness up to your ankles. ‘Ankles, relax, relax.’ Allow your ankles to fully let go and with each body part repeat the same process. When you get to the head and neck get detailed. Nose, relax relax. Lips relax relax. tongue relax relax, teeth & gums relax relax, throat relax relax. Allow your mind to relax while keeping the breathing deep and steady. Take it slow paying attention to each body part. During my classes I ask my students to think about what each body part does for them throughout the day and as you breathe out flood the body part with gratitude. This is extremely healing, relaxing & soothing. Allow the floor or your bed to take your full body weight and enjoy the benefit of your fully relaxed body.

Dr. Ann Donnelly MB MRCGP DRCOG DFP DYT Dippallmed

Doctor Ann is a family doctor with over 25 years experience in medicine. Her work currently is in the field of palliative medicine in both Hospice and Hospital environments. She is a yoga teacher & she has studied with the British Medical Acupuncture Society & the London Homeopathic Society. Further to this she has been studying and teaching with the Modern Mystery School of Metaphysics for over 10 years and runs a busy holistic practice where she offers sessions and courses for healing, personal development, increased awareness and enlightenment.

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