2
Active Relaxation
Summary
This is an exercise in which participants practice a variety
of
ways
of
releasing tensions quickly.
Objective
Energizer.
Materials
None.
Time Limit
25 minutes (depending on whether the whole range
of
exercises is used).
Procedure
Explain that active relaxation is a way
of
interrupting muscular tensions.
This can be useful in the context
of
the training event currently under
way as such tensions interfere with learning. This kind
of
activity can be
used during a normal workday, or anytime, since no special equipment
is required.
Chin wobbling
1.
Explain that jaw muscles can become readily tensed up and that you are
going to show one way
of
checking on and releasing such tension.
Remind them that the chin is hinged on the jaw and can move inde-
pendently.
2.
Tell participants to allow their heads to hang down and to open their
mouths and shake their heads from side to side. Demonstrate this your-
self, as this produces laughter, whether you can do it or not.
Show how
letting the breath out at the same time helps and that some lip-trembling
noises are likely.
If
the chin moves with the rest
of
the head instead
of
wobbling, this is a sign
of
muscular tension.
3.
Invite participants to try the exercise several times, encouraging laughter
and telling them that this is a valuable help in relaxation.
17
A Compendium
of
Icebreakers, Energizers
and
Introductions
Alexander neck release
1.
Tell the participants that the neck is a prime area for muscular tensions.
Invite people to gently press the back
of
their necks with both hands and
to note how the muscles feel.
2.
Ask participants to stand with both feet flat on the ground and their
weight balanced evenly, hands hanging loosely by their sides when in a
resting position. When a disability makes standing difficult, encourage
sitting in as balanced a position as possible.
One way
of
testing this is
for them to sit on their hands and feel
if
the weight is evenly balanced on
the two hands.
3.
Announce that the activity to be done will help to release tension in the
neck and enable the head to be more freely balanced on the spine. It con-
centrates on working the muscles where the head balances on top
of
the
spine.
4.
Demonstrate to participants where the head balances on the spine by
having them run a finger up their own spinal column to feel where it
enters the skull. Ask them to imagine their head floating on top
of
their
spine at the point where the skull starts. A further useful image is having
the top
of
the head attached to a balloon which is gently tugging up-
wards. Pushing the nose or the chin up is to be avoided. This can be
helped by having the eyes look straight ahead comfortably at right
angles to the face.
5.
Make sure they have found this point
of
balance. Then ask participants
to begin gently rocking the head forward and back with very slight
movement
of
the nose up and down, thinking
of
the pivot as being the
topmost vertebra
of
the spine. Check how much they are moving their
head and
if
they are having difficulty producing only a small movement
ask them to put the fingers of both hands symmetrically on either side
of
the spinal column
of
the neck so that they can check that only the top
of
the spinal column is involved.
6.
A further exercise is to have them tum their heads very slightly to the
right and to the left. The movement will involve the second vertebra
only and should not twist the neck any lower.
7.
When these two movements have been established ask participants to
repeat and feel how hard their neck muscles are again. Most
of
them will
report that they feel much softer, indicating that some degree
of
relaxa-
tion has been achieved.
8.
Inform participants that relaxing the neck muscles encourages other
muscles
of
the body to relax, particularly
if
care is taken to achieve a
balanced body position.
18

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