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8 Relaxing Exercises That Will Release Tension From Your Entire Body

Writer: JENNY MCCOY | Outlet: Self

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When I’m really stressed, I feel it in my body. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve also been feeling super tense lately. But there are relaxing exercises we all can do to both reduce total-body tension and calm our worried minds. They might not be a cure-all, but they may make you feel better for the moment.


“We tend to separate out the mind and the body, and they're so linked,” clinical psychologist Charlynn Ruan, Ph.D., founder of Thrive Psychology Group in Los Angeles and New York, tells SELF. Mental stress can cause your muscles to tighten as your body tries to protect itself against injury and pain, according to the American Psychological Association. But relaxing your muscles—say, with a sequence of gentle stretches—can send calming signals to your brain that help alleviate mental stress.


That’s where this sequence of eight relaxing exercises, created for SELF by Marianna DeCaro, D.P.T., C.S.C.S, a certified yoga teacher and physical therapist at Spear Physical Therapy in New York City, comes in. These moves are really great for relieving tension, she says, and the sequence is designed to slowly warm up your body, improve mobility, boost core stability, and alleviate tightness in key areas, including your arms, shoulders, hips, and back.


This routine is super helpful for when you already feel tight and anxious and just want a release—like, um, now—but it’s also something you could do to prevent both mental and physical tension from coming on in the first place, explains DeCaro. Because this routine is pretty gentle on the body, it’s OK to do it every day.

  1. Child's Pose
  2. Cat-Chow
  3. Puppy Pose
  4. Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
  5. Downward Facing Dog
  6. Forward Fold
  7. Seated Spinal Twist
  8. Pigeon Pose