Relaxation & Meditation Classes
Are you suffering from stress, insomnia or anxiety? Or do you just want to learn some new techniques to help you relax? Then relaxation & meditation could be your answer.
The sessions are taken by Katya from LightHearts UK and have been specially formulated with the expert help of NHS Senior Psychiatric Nurse Liz Axham who deals with patients suffering from all levels of anxiety and depression.
Relaxation is scientifically proven to offer various physical and mental health benefits. These sessions give deep relaxation for both body and mind that will leave you with feelings of peace and well-being, pulling together effective techniques and well-respected relaxation practises such as meditation, breathing techniques, energy work, self-massage and acupressure.
Take a look below to see the types of techniques we use in the sessions week by week....
We start off with a mindfulness technique called Body Scanning or Progressive Muscle Relaxation where we tense and release the main muscle groups in the body - hands, arms, shoulders, face, stomach, thighs, buttocks, lower legs & feet.
Next is a yoga breathing technique called Ujay Breathing where you learn to exhale slowly with an open mouth, emitting a loud breath called the 'Silent Roar'. This helps use our full lung capacity by letting our stomachs float out and our chests rise on the in-breath and then letting the stomach and the chest fall back on the out-breath.
Next is a Five Minute Switch-Off guided meditation where we use our memories to recall a time when we felt so drowsy we couldn't keep our eyes open. Then we are prompted to yawn - to provoke our brains into thinking it's time to relax and go to sleep. This is a brilliant exercise for insomniacs.
Next is some self-massage using a powerful acupressure point located on the upper hand, between the thumb and forefinger, between the joints, just above the webbed part of the hand. This is excellent for anxiety and discrete enough to be able to use during stressful situations such as waiting at the doctor's surgery.
To finish we use our imaginations for a guided meditation called Cloud Imagery which is a tried and tested technique used at the Mental Health Care Unit where we are encouraged to imagine ourselves floating on a cloud.
We start with another breathing exercise called Bear Heart Breathing (famously used by Native American Indians) to help ease us into feeling relaxed. Next is some self-massage that includes massaging our shoulders, neck, arms and head, using acupressure points on the temples, forehead, nose, cheekbones and chin. This is a wonderful technique that calms and soothes the muscles and the mind.
Next is a meditation using autogenic phrases which is a technique where you repeat relaxing phrases out loud and silently to yourself to "trick" your brain into believing it's relaxed. (The technique works so well that most people feel extremely sleepy afterwards.)
We round off the class with a Country Walk & Special Place guided meditation where we imagine walking on a path through country fields, arriving at a door that opens onto a place - either real or imagined - that makes us feel safe and secure.
The theme of this week's relaxation session is clearing negative energy. We start off with a few rounds of Counting Breathing Technique - where we count our in-breaths and out-breaths and concentrate on where the breath is coming from in our bodies.
Then comes some seated Qi Gong warm-up exercises. Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese exercise technique - much like Tai Chi - that uses slow, graceful movements with breathing techniques. (The word Qi in Chinese means 'life-force energy'). We perform simple arm stretches and head movements. Then we demonstrate an energy-cleaning technique (or dry-bathing) called Kenyoku which comes from the Japanese Reiki tradition and helps to clear away any negative energy.
Next is a guided meditation where we imagine ourselves lying back on a boat, rocking gently on a calm lake.
A new set of hand reflexology massage techniques are introduced - massaging the thumb (the head reflex) and the kidney reflex on the palm to help release toxins.
To finish is a Clearing Negative Energy guided meditation where we imagine a giant fiery magnet pulling out all of our past traumas and our problems and burning them up. We then imagine a glow of healing positive light filling up all the gaps, leaving us with a feeling of calmness & peace.
Taking inspiration from the technique of mindfulness, we set the challenge of trying to keep outer and inner dialogue to a minimum over the week (trying not to speak of negative things or problems, and trying not to worry about the past or future events) therefore freeing up space in their heads to concentrate on the present and only thinking of tasks in that very moment.
We start with Ujay Breathing and Counting Breathing Technique to get us into the mood for relaxation.
Then comes some gentle seated Tai Chi exercises, helping to stretch our muscles and use our breathing techniques at the same time.
Afterwards comes a long guided meditation which incorporates hypnosis to take us deeper into our relaxation. The meditation also includes autogenic phrases to trick our stubborn minds into relaxing, together with a short positive affirming message that we are all in control of our minds, therefore we are in control of the choices we make and by choosing to being relaxed, we are making one of the most important choices for our well-being.
To finish is a little Japanese Reiki Heart meditation, where we place our hands on our chests and imagine light flowing through our hearts and our chests, making us feel lighter and more peaceful.
The homework theme for this week is 'Light Heartedness' - we talk about how laughing and various forms of laughter therapy can bring about a deep sense of joy and well-being. Everyone is encouraged to dig out their favourite books and DVDs that make them laugh. And to help with the theme, we share an example below on how laughter can bring happiness to everyone around us.
We start off with a pre-meditation warm up called the Thai Spinal Twist which involves swinging our arms out and then twisting to the right and the left, wrapping our arms around our bodies with a gentle self-massaging slap. We work up from our hips, travelling up our waist to our shoulders and neck and back down again, breathing deeply as we did so. This helps to not only warm up the muscles and loosen the spine, but also the rhythmic nature of the swinging helps to relax the mind. We finish off by doing some Ujay breathing, this time silently going through the breathing exercise with the music.
We then introduce a technique called Anchoring in which we press the powerful reflex point (on the fleshy part of the top of the hand between the thumb and forefinger) whilst undergoing a deep guided meditation. By pressing this point and saying the word 'relax' silently to ourselves, we are associating that pressure point with relaxation. Once this association is made, you can then trigger relaxation quickly - anytime, anywhere - simply by squeezing your hand.
Then we use our imaginations in a guided meditation called Country Walk by a Stream where we imagine walking through beautiful fields to a little stream where we paddle our feet as we sit in the warm sunshine.
This week's homework is to go for a walk in a place of natural beauty - to really take in the surroundings and to try and create a consistent walking pattern. This allows for a rhythm that can keep in time with our breathing pattern, which therefore relaxes the mind as well as releasing endorphins that calms our systems.
We start off with Ujay breathing. Next comes a Walking Meditation. Buddhist monks regularly use walking meditations as part of their practise as a way to not only move and stretch the body but to calm the mind. The repetitive process of putting one foot in front of the other in a slow and steady rhythm and coordinating it with the breath is an excellent 'Zen' technique that can be used any time during daily life. For this sessions we use a drumming track to help us keep a steady 4/4 rhythm as we imagine our feet walking up a Japanese mountain, allowing us four beats to inhale and four beats to exhale.
We then continue with the Anchoring Meditation from the previous week to really cement the technique in our brains. (It involves pressing a reflex point on the hand during a deep guided meditation which then associates that pressure point with relaxation.)
Following on from our theme of nature from the previous week's homework, a new mindfulness technique is introduced, taken from a guided meditation devised by the mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. The Mindful Mountain Meditation involves imagining yourself as a mountain - grounded, strong and magnificent, able to weather all storms, all seasons and all life changes.
We start with a deep breathing exercise called Candle Focus where we focus on the flame of a lit candle while breathing regularly. Pinpointing our gaze the dancing flame of a candle, allows our eyes to de-focus, blurring the flame into a beautiful golden light that becomes almost hypnotic, leaving us with feelings of deep relaxation.
Next comes some Self-Massage where we massage our hands, arms shoulders, neck and head using massage techniques called Petrissage and Effleurage and pressing on acupressure points to release tension.
We continue our study of mindfulness with a Mindful Breath meditation where we breathe into separate parts of our body, imagining the breath flowing down our body in waves on the exhalation and then channelling back up our bodies on the inhalation.
We discuss the advantages of keeping a daily Gratitude Diary, writing down everything that we feel grateful for - from the big things that bring us joy to the tiniest thing that make our lives just a little bit better. In keeping with that theme we finish the session with a Gratitude Meditation where we thank something that we all take for granted - our bodies. We thank every part of our bodies - our bones, our organs, our muscles, our senses - for keeping us breathing, moving and functioning.
We start with some Seated Yoga poses to warm up our muscles and release tension in our bodies while using Ujay breathing to release tension in our minds. We then revisited the Candle Focus technique - staring at the flame of a candle while listening to soothing music and deep breathing.
We follow this with an introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which is a method of tapping on acupressure points around the head and upper body while saying the phrase "Even though have this difficulty in relaxing, I deeply and completely accept myself." (You can also replace the phrase "difficulty in relaxing" with any issue you would like to address for example "Even though I have this depression, I deeply and completely accept myself" or "Even though I have anger, I deeply and completely accept myself".) Whilst saying this phrase we tap (using three fingers) on the following acupressure points:
- Top of head
- Eye brow
- Side of the eye
- Under the eye
- Under the nose
- Collar bone
- Under the arm
We then move onto a Colour Therapy technique called the Colour Waterfall meditation where we imagine bathing our hands in seven different waterfalls of different colours. This is a good technique to find out which colour brings out different emotions in us, and which colour makes us feel good. By discovering the colour that makes us feel most relaxed and comforted we can then make a concerted effort to bring more of this colour into our lives to help us relax. Colours are also associated with the Indian theory of Chakras - that there are seven energy centres of the body and these centres all have their own colour. (See diagram below)
We finish the session with a piece of classical music that we listen to with our eyes closed whilst deep breathing either trying to imagine a scene conjured up by the music, or by simply just following the instruments. We use the piece 'Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" by Claude Debussy or a the beautiful piece 'Lark Ascending' by Vaughn Williams (which accompanies the video below).
We start with a round of Ujay breathing. Following on from our colour therapy from the previous week, we continue with a Colour Relax Meditation - a deep muscle relaxation using deep breathing, whilst picturing the word RELAX in our favourite colour.
We then went onto practise a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercise which helps with fear reduction. We are asked to pick a fear (real or irrational) that cause us anxiety and stress and which prevents us from relaxing. We then imagine that fear playing out on a big cinema screen in front of us. As we breathe deeply, we imagine the colour of this image fading until it is black and white. Then we imagine the screen becoming smaller and smaller and the sound becoming fainter and fainter until all that is left is a tiny screen playing a black and white picture with no sound. Then we imagine the picture breaking up until it's just a fuzzy screen which we imagine turning off at the power button. In this way we are training our brains to disregard the fear as something that is small and meaningless which we can control.
We ended the session with a Forest Meditation which draws on the shamanic practise of getting connected with nature and the symbolism of animals and trying to listen out for what our subconscious is trying to tell us while in a relaxed state.
We start with some seated Pilates warm up exercises for the neck and shoulder muscles. Pilates is a wonderful exercise system, developed by German-born Joseph Pilates who believed that mental and physical health are closely connected. Pilates involves gentle and repetitive stretching which helps to strengthen the body as a whole. (We recommend the Darcy Bussell DVD "Pilates for Life").
We then introduce the 4:7:8 Breathing Technique which is an excellent way of helping your body relax immediately. It involves pushing your tongue up to the roof of your mouth and settling it just behind the two front teeth. You then inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then blow out through your cheeks (still with the tongue in place) for 8 seconds. This should only be repeated a few times each day until you become used to it, because it can cause light-headedness if overdone.
Next comes a short Grounding Meditation where we imagine we are like trees growing roots out of our feet and into the earth which brings about feelings of stabilisation, security and grounding.
We then go on to learn the 12 Reiki Self-Treatment Hand Positions from the Japanese healing tradition of Reiki. Placing our hands on different parts of our bodies while meditating allows us to focus our energies and concentration on areas of the body that are in pain or need attention. The hand positions also trigger feelings of calm and well-being as some of them are very similar to the feeling of a parent's caring hands when we were small.
We then round off with a Hypnosis Meditation using the idea of an elevator taking us down into deeper and deeper levels of relaxation.
If you're interested in finding out more about these techniques or our sessions, please call 07982 830419 or email email@example.com. Or take a look at the testimonials page to find out how other clients have enjoyed the classes. Katya can also be booked for one-on-one meditation classes, online Skype sessions or courses of meditation for groups, and also provides commercial bookings for companies & charities.