Guide on breathing and relaxation techniques

  •  Lie down on the floor, on a comfortable surface, your body in a straight line, arms on either side of your body, feet uncrossed and eyes closed. OR Sit on a comfortable seat with your hands on your knees or on the seat arms.
  •  Close your eyes to avoid distractions and to help you concentrate.
  •  Let yourself go. To succeed in the relaxation, it is necessary to adopt a passive attitude.
  •  Plan regular periods of relaxation during the day – long and short.
  •  Practice often. Repetition of these exercises is important for them to be successful. It is therefore necessary to practice relaxation several times a week in order to learn the technique and feel the benefits.
  •  At the end of the session, do not get up too fast. Move your fingers and toes quietly, then the rest of your body. Inspire deeply. Open your eyes and get up slowly.

4 Relaxation exercises

1) Relaxation

You can do this exercise anywhere, as soon as you feel the need. Do it in combination with your breathing exercises.

  •  Let go of all the tension in your neck and shoulders.
  •  Lets go all the tension of your jaw.
  •  Concentrate on your breath only, nothing else.
  •  When you exhale, let your shoulders fall, relax and let your body “sink” in the chair or on the floor. Repeat until you feel relaxed.

2) Progressive relaxation

Effect: This technique helps to relax muscle tension.

  •  Sit or lie on your back in a quiet and comfortable room. Close your eyes.
  •  Clench your fists for five seconds, then release. Repeat the exercise three times. Be attentive to the various sensations that you experience while you contract (tension) and relaxed (relaxation) yourmuscles.
  •  Repeat step 2 with all muscle groups: arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, thighs, calves and feet. Start with your feet or your head and continue along the length of your body.
  •  Initially, this exercise may take about 20 minutes. With practice, you’ll be able to do it in about five minutes.

3) Fancy relaxation (with the help of a facilitator)

  •  Sit or lie on your back in a quiet and comfortable room. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply, slowly expire. Just think about letting your body relax, like a rag doll.
  •  I will count to ten. When I reach ten, you will have reached a state of relaxation deeper than ever before. As I go from one to ten, your brain will be aware of a state of deepening relaxation.
  •  One: You’re lying here, very relaxed, breathing quietly. With each expiration, think of the word “Relax”.
  •  Two: The room and the people around you are gradually disappearing. You are here alone and this moment belongs only to you.
  •  Three: All your feelings and tensions are disappearing.
  •  Four: All your problems and thoughts are in the background, they are not important now. This time is for you alone. You feel very calm.
  •  Five: You relax more and more.
  •  Six: You feel more and more relaxed.
  •  Seven: All your tensions have completely disappeared, you are at peace. Your body weighs a ton, impossible to move.
  •  Eight: All the nerves and muscles in your body want to rest, to relax.
  •  Nine: You are completely relaxed and at peace. You are lying down and you breathe slowly. You can only hear your breathing and, in the distance, the sound of my voice.
  •  Ten: In this perfectly relaxed state, imagine now that you walk calmly and slowly along a country trail, at the edge of a peaceful lake. It’s early in the morning and the sun is shining warmly. The air is fresh and delicious. The grass is covered with drops of dew and scented flowers. You look at the lake which is very blue and serene. You sit slowly in the grass by the lake and relax. A light breeze caresses the grass. You look at the blue sky and the white clouds floating here and there. You lie down and observe the clouds, then begin to float towards the clouds. You can walk on the clouds. It’s a wonderful feeling of freedom. It is mild, the air is cool, the sky is blue, the clouds are white, fluffy and mellow. You feel the warm rays of the sun on your body and, as you inhale, your body fills with fresh air, you are relaxed and totally at peace. You’re lying down, just enjoying the sensations that invade you.
  •  You wake up very slowly and you are in the same room as before, you feel extremely well, quite relaxed and very energetic. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Keep it in yourself all day.

4) The relaxation break

Choose a quiet and comfortable place. Lie down on the floor, on a rug or blanket. The legs are slightly apart, the arms along the body, the elbows a little folded and the palms of the hands facing the ground. You can also put your head on a pillow. Close your eyes: you will be better focused. It is important not to hold any tension in your muscles during the release phase.

  •  Hold the whole body by lifting the pelvis 3-4 cm (if you can not, imagine that you do it). Hold the position 5 seconds then release completely from head to foot. Now find the difference between contraction and muscle relaxation. Then stay still and relax a few seconds.
  •  Push hard on the floor with your shoulders. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds, then release completely. Then stay still and relaxed for a few seconds.
  •  Point the toes in front of you. Your calves are now hard as rock. Hold the position 5 seconds, then release completely. Then stay still and relaxed for a few seconds.
  •  Clench your teeth by pulling the corner of your lips to your ears. Hold the position 5 seconds. Find the tension accumulated in the cheeks and jaws. Then hold the mouth wide open for 5 seconds, then release the jaws. Repeat twice. End the break with a few bends-extensions of the arms and legs.
  •  Once the relaxation is over, return to the ground gradually, slowly making a few flexion-extensions of the arms and legs before standing up again. These exercises restore muscle tone and facilitate the resumption of normal activities.

5) Complete relaxation

The relaxation method that follows is rooted in the great principle of Jacobson’s method. This method is to talk to your body to relax each part. You get a feeling of inner calm and total relaxation. It is suggested to practice it every day or as soon as fatigue is felt either before or after intense work. By mastering this method, you will learn to better control your energy to eliminate stress and fatigue.

  •  Lie on your back in a quiet and comfortable room. Stretch as if to keep your head away from your feet. Turn your head to the right, then to the left to center it. Arrange the arms slightly away from your body, hands are turned palms up to the sky to attract energy. Spread the legs to form a small “V”. Every part of your body must have the essential space to relax.
  •  Close your eyes. Take a few conscious breaths. Inhale deeply, slowly expire. Just think about letting your body relax, like a rag doll.
  •  Carefully relax each part of your body by speaking to it internally. Repeat for each one that it is heavy, very heavy, as if it were sinking into the ground. It is best to start either by the feet or by the head. The exercise should be performed either from the bottom up or from the top down. If for example you start with the right foot, internally you repeat that it is heavy, very heavy, so heavy that you are unable to move it, you feel it sink into the ground. When your right foot is well relaxed, you continue with the left.
  •  You must focus on each member and convince him of his weight. If at the beginning you have difficulty, contract in turn each part, ie the feet, the legs, the thighs, the buttocks … For example, grit your teeth strongly a few moments then relaxes. In this way, you can feel more the difference between tension and looseness in the jaws. (See exercise on progressive relaxation). When you practice this relaxation, do not forget to relax your neck, your shoulders and all parts of the face, because they are places where the stress is.
  •  Now that your body is fully relaxed, take good breaths again and take full advantage of the present moment. Do not think of anything anymore. Your body must remain motionless for the rest of the relaxation.
  •  At this stage of the complete relaxation exercise, you can choose different alternatives: Imagine now that your body is very light. Fix your thoughts only on the feeling of well-being felt. Think of positive images. The relaxation is an excellent moment to sow constructive thoughts in the subconscious since the conscious one is at rest. Imagine a pleasant moment, like a trip to the edge of the sea. Do a visualization exercise. (See visualization exercise). You can also practice in imagination one of your favorite activities, which is done calmly, ie, golf, walking, etc. What you see in your head must always be very pleasant.
  •  In order to get back in touch with reality, take deep breaths and focus on each part of your body again. For example, repeat internally that your right foot is light and gently move, then continue with another member. Once finished, gently stretch. Open your eyes.
  •  Relaxation should last from 15 to 20 minutes. Warning: You must not sleep during the relaxation, because to be effective, it must be active.

6) Visualization

Effect: Visualization helps combat negative thoughts, nervousness, anxiety and fear. Using a positive image sometimes helps us to replace negative images and cope with pain, challenge or difficult situations.

You can achieve a deep physical and mental relaxation by imagining that you find yourself in an ideal place such as near an ocean or in a path.

  •  Forget everything and share for an imaginary journey. It’s up to you to choose the destination. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down in a nice and safe place. Close your eyes and try to clear your mind for a moment. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and, for a dozen minutes, imagine where you would like to be!
  •  Then, imagine that you are visiting one of your favorite places of relaxation. It can be lying on a sandy beach, sitting around a campfire, watching the flow of a river or enjoying the panorama of a mountain, the sea or a vast field. It could be to look at the sky during a beautiful summer day. It could also be taking a hot bath.
  •  Try to imagine what each of your senses feels. Your skin is warmed by the sun, but refreshed by the light breeze. Imagine breathing fresh air with a subtle scent of flowers.
  •  Spend a few minutes creating your own little imaginary universe. Gently open your eyes and notice how relaxed you are.View: the seaside
  •  Sit comfortably, hands on your thighs, your feet well on the ground. Become aware of your breath and focus on it. Inspire slowly, expire a long time. Imagine that by inspiring, it is positive, pure energy that enters and purifies your lungs and, at the expiration, you reject all your worries, your tensions outside your body. Gradually, you feel that your body is more and more relaxed, calm settles quietly in you.
  •  By inhaling deeply, it is a wave of calm that enters you and will relax each muscle, each member of your body. You feel more and more calm, more and more relaxed. You focus your attention on this peace that is spreading in you.
  •  Now imagine that you are at the edge of the sea. You see the sea that extends to the horizon, you see the blue sky dotted with big white clouds that look like cotton wool. You see the golden sand … sit on this hot sand, touch it, it is fine, soft, hot … Take a handful of this hot and soft sand and let it run between your fingers, between your toes. Feel well the softness of the sand that warms you, that rises in you. Now become aware of the sun’s rays that pleasantly warm your whole body, taste this warmth, let yourself be penetrated by the softness of the sand and the heat of the sun.
  •  Your attention is now drawn to the waves, their comings and goings that make a soft music in your ears. Listen to the sound of the waves … Stretch your ear and hear now the sound of birds … the screaming cry of gulls and seagulls that marry at the sound of the waves.
  •  Taste the warmth of the sun and sand, enjoy the sounds of waves and birds. All this heat and sounds are so relaxing and relaxing. Look and enjoy the beauties of this beautiful corner that is the edge of the sea. See, hear, feel and permeates your being all the benefits that this landscape offers you. Every cell in your body feels the benefit.
  •  When you feel ready, you get back in touch with your breath, inhale deeply to impregnate each of your cells with this moment of well-being. Slowly get ready to come back here to class (or other places), knowing that at any time you can go back to the seaside to rest. Inspire a long time, slowly expire. At the next inspiration, open your eyes. Return slowly and calmly to class (or other places).

C) Stretching exercises

If performed well, stretching exercises can help reduce muscle tension, relax and reduce stress levels. Never jump when you are straining, this could cause you a muscle injury. Exercises and stretching movements should never cause pain. In other words, you should not stretch yourself to the point of hurting yourself.

Here is a list of stretching exercises that target different parts of the body:

Do these exercises for five or ten minutes. You can do it all or choose only a few.

Shoulders :

  •  Lift your shoulders to the ears, then let them fall and relax for ten seconds. Repeat three or four times.
  •  Drop your arms on either side of your body and roll your shoulders back. (Raise shoulders slowly to your ears and rotate backwards and downwards to the starting point.) After three or four turns, change direction and rotate your shoulders forward.
  •  Roll three or four times the shoulders forward, then three or four times back, first with one hand, then with the other, then with both. Elbows:

 Raise your elbows at shoulder height, hanging your hands. Clench your fists and bend your elbows backwards. Repeat three or four times.

Arms :

  •  Place the palms of the hands on the chest, elbows raised. Open your arms slowly outward and backward, bending your elbows. Repeat three or four times for each arm alternating right arm and left arm. Follow the movement of the arms with the head and the eyes.
  •  Extend the arms above the head as high as possible. Then go down again slowly. Repeat this movement three or four times.
  •  Raise one arm, then the other over the head, as high as possible. Imagine that you grab a rope and pull it down three or four times, alternating arms.The head:
  •  Rotate the head forward only. Let your head fall until your chin touches your chest. Rotate to the right, return to the center, then rotate to the left and return to the center. Repeat three or four times
  •  Slowly turn the head to the right (hold this position for 10 seconds), then to the left (hold for 10 seconds). Repeat this movement three or four times.

Here are some examples of a combination of stretching exercises that you can do:

1) Stretch gently

You can do these seated stretches. All of these stretches only take a few minutes:

  •  Lift your shoulders to the ears, then let them fall and relax for ten seconds. Repeat three or four times.
  •  Slowly turn your head to the right. Hold this position for ten seconds. Repeat on the left side.
  •  Let your head fall until your chin touches your chest. Relax for ten seconds.
  •  Raise your right arm over your head, then bring it down. Repeat with the left arm. Spread both sides three or four times.
  •  Stretch both arms forward, then pull your elbows back as if you were rowing. Relax ten seconds. Repeat three or four times.
  •  Lean to the right as you bend your waist and pull your arm as far as you can. Repeat on the left side.
  •  Stretches the right leg by lifting the foot off the ground. Hold this position for ten seconds. Repetition with the left leg. Repeat three or four times.
  •  Raise the right foot and rotate the ankle. Repeat with the left foot. Repeat three or four times.

2) Here is a stretch to relieve tense muscles

  •  Sit up straight and inspire.
  •  Expire, letting your head fall gently on your chest. You will feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck and shoulders.
  •  Let your head go to your shoulder while inhaling. Let your chin fall on your chest as it exhales. Repeat the same exercise on the other side.
  •  Drop your arms on either side of your body and roll your shoulders back. Lift them slowly towards your ears and rotate backwards and downwards to the starting point. After two or three rotations, change direction.

Technical sources of breathing and relaxation:

Canadian Public Health Association. (2006). Towards a life without smoking. Accessed October 10, 2008 at:

  • 2) Canadian Mental Health Association. Tamed stress. :
  • 3) Documents from the psychology department of École Mathieu-Martin, September 2004.
  • 4) Health Canada. (2005). Life 100 smoking
  • 5) Canadian Cancer Society. (2007). One step at a time – For smokers who want to quit smoking: Beauséjour Regional Health AuthorityNovember 2008

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