When feeling tense and anxious our bodies tend to reflect our minds and hold tension, next time you are feeling tense or anxious check in with yourself - are you holding any tension without even being aware. Most of us are, so scanning your body and checking in with yourself from toes to head can really help release tension and soothe any anxiety bringing us back to the present moment. This is a technique that you can use anytime really, maybe on a bus or a train, or anytime you are feeling anxious or tense. It can help bring us back into our body and connect back into ourselves.
To fully practice a body scan meditation it is best to start lying or seated in a comfortable position. Perhaps bring your attention back to your breath first, the sound of your breath, the coolness of your inhale compared to the warmth of your exhale. Deepen the breath, breathing deeply and slowing the breath down. When you feel ready or called to by your own intuition start to bring your awareness to the sensations in your body perhaps noticing any heat, cold, tingling, tension, aching muscles. Notice how you feel and observe the sensations, try not to be attached to them but be a curious observer as my wonderful teacher Louisa would say. Scan your body with your minds eye, consciously relaxing as you go, are your toes, feet, ankles, calves relaxed, your thighs, buttocks, abdomen, your shoulders (maybe roll them up back and down a few times if that feels good for you), your neck, your face, are you holding tension in your jaw, your mouth, relax your tongue, your forehead, top the head, are but a few places you could scan and relax.
If you have difficulty relaxing the tension or being fully aware of the tension (sometimes we can be so chronically tense from work, sitting at a desk, worrying about something, that it can be hard to be fully aware of the tension) a really nice technique that is available is to consciously tense the area that you are away to relax, tense, hold the tension and then release. Maybe it feels good to you to exhale on the release, really letting go and unwinding the body. So tensing the right foot, hold for a few seconds or as long as feels good for you and then release, right calf, thigh etc working your way around your body.
Body scan meditation can be practiced on its own or often forms part of yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) allowing the body to fully and deeply relax. Other benefits to a body scan medication can be improving self awareness, improving sleep, relaxing benefits, can help with chronic stress and anxiety, tension headaches, can relieve muscular tension and it can help your regain focus. Practicing body scan meditation and other techniques used during yoga on a regular basis really can bring a host of benefits. Don’t just take my word for it though, see what works for you, listen to your intuition and your body.
I often include meditations and Yoga Nidras in classes and offer a Yoga Nidra class. Yoga Nidra and meditation is part of a yogic practice that’s very accessible to most of us and can bring a whole host of benefits.