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How to use the relaxation position for better sleep

The relaxation position is used A LOT in my classes.

It’s a position we get into at the start of class when we align our body. It’s also a position we use to prepare for a number of Pilates exercises e.g. the bridge.

The beauty of the relaxation position is that it’s actually something you can do outside of class to help you release unwanted tension, reset the body and calm the mind.

Spend five minutes in this position at the end of the day to relax and unwind before bedtime.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to help you master the relaxation position. There’s no focus on Pilates breathing here. Simply good body alignment.

  1. Lie on your mat with your knees bent. Your arms should be down by your sides with your palms facing your mat. A towel (folded once or twice) placed under your head can help to keep your head and neck level.
  2. Your toes should point straight ahead with your heels directly behind them. Relax the feet. Consider the four points of contact under your feet (big toe, little toe, inside and outside of your heel). You want to have an even distribution of weight across these four points.
  3. Your knees should be hip distance apart and pointing up to the ceiling. Imagine they have a piece of string coming from the top of them to stop them leaning over.
  4. Make sure your pelvis is level in all directions. Imagine a full bowl of water sitting on top your pelvis. The bowl of water should be level and still. No spillages!
  5. Beginning with your tailbone (the base of the spine) start to lengthen your body. Visualise creating air gaps between each vertebrae in your spine. Extend the whole length of your spine, up through your neck and out from the top of your head. Try to make yourself as long as your can.
  6. Relax your arms, releasing any tension from the wrists and fingers. Your palms should be gently touching your mat.
  7. Create a space between the top of your shoulders and your earlobes by imaging a pair of hands gently pressing down on them. Let the back of your shoulders gently relax onto your mat.
  8. Imagine a peach sitting under your chin keeping it nice and level (your eyes should now be looking straight up at the ceiling). A level chin helps to keep the area in front of the chest free from any obstructions so you can breathe easily.
  9. Now close your eyes and take a few gentle breaths (you don’t need to use your Pilates breathing). As you breathe scan your body, sensing for any unwanted tension and releasing it.