RELAXATION TECHNIQUES VISUAL IMAGERY

If Session Three is to involve the legs it is best to start with the calf muscles once pendulum breathing is established. If leg relaxation is not learned in Session

Three, it should be preceded by a full massage in Session Four.

The leg muscles are more difficult to relax than the arms because as well as having a locomotor function involved in walking and running, they also have a proprioceptive function (see pages 61 to 62) which involves them in balance and standing still. The giver must say ‘tense your calf muscles’ and then ‘relax them’ so that the wobbly feel is appreciated by the giver. Once the fully developed wobble is present – maybe after several admonitions to ‘relax more, they are still tight’ – the taker may say that his or her muscles feel ‘creepy, or ‘like worms wriggling. This sensation is due to certain areas in the calf muscle contracting spontaneously. The giver may actually be able to see these individual discharges of tension as small areas flick unconsciously into action.

Once calf muscles are well and truly relaxed the taker should stay with the feeling of the relaxed muscle for two or three minutes. Then move on to learn first how to relax the huge muscle on the front of the thigh (the quadriceps), and afterwards the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh.

To relax these enormous groups of muscles it is easiest to start by half flexing the leg (the giver supports it with one hand while the other hand gently feels the muscles with his fingertips, see illustration on page 212). Having already learned how to relax the calf muscles it is relatively easy to relax these large groups on both sides of the thigh.

Finally switch roles, making sure to ‘pick up’ your partner at the same stage. Finish with pendulum breathing together.

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