This can be done in a group, alone, or with a partner. Begin by lying down on your back. Do not cross your limbs. Loosen any tight clothing.
In order to know how relaxation feels, we must first experience tension. We are going to tense all the muscles of the body, one by one, and keep them tense until we relax our entire bodies with one breath. Don’t clench the muscles so they cramp, just tense them lightly.
Start with your toes. Tense the toes in your right foot…and now your left foot. Tense your right foot…and your left foot. Your right ankle…and your left ankle…
Continue throughout the whole body, part by part. From time to time, remind the group to tense any muscles they have let slack.
Now tense your scalp. Your whole body is tense…feel the tense in every part. Tense any muscles that have gone slack. Now take a deep breath…inhale…*pause*…exhale…and relax!
Relax completely. You are completely and totally relaxed. Your fingers are relaxed, and your toes are relaxed. Your hands are relaxed, and your feet are relaxed. Your wrists are relaxed, and your ankles are relaxed.
And so on, throughout the whole body. Periodically pause and say”
You are completely and totally relaxed. Completely and totally relaxed. Your body is light; it feels like water, like it is melting into the earth.
Allow yourself to drift and float peacefully in your state of relaxation. If any worries or anxieties disturb your peace, imagine them drain from your body like water and melt into the earth. Feel yourself being healed and renewed.
Remain in deep relaxation for ten to fifteen minutes. It is good to practice this exercise daily, until you can relax completely simply by lying down and letting go, without needing to go through the entire process. People who have difficulty sleeping will find this extremely helpful. However, do not allow yourself to drift off into sleep. You are training your mind to remain in a relaxed but alert state. Later, you will use this state for trance work, which will be mich more difficult if you are in the habit of staying awake. If you practice this at night before sleeping, sit up, open your eyes, and consciously end the exercise before dozing.
Many of the other exercises can be most effectively practiced in a state of deep relaxation. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Exercise courtesy of The Spiral Dance by Starhawk