Guest Column: Learning to Relax

Learning to Relax
By Roseanna Frechette

Relaxation 101. That might be a helpful back-to-school class, especially since so many people don’t know how to relax. But most people would never sign up for this class because most people place relaxation low on the list of priorities. And those that might know the importance of relaxation are afraid if they ever slow down enough to relax they’ll never get going again.

Consider this: A day has the same amount of time in it whether a person is moving too slow or too fast. When we slow down enough we tend to stay mindful, organized, and efficient. When we speed up too much we tend to lose focus, drop details, and tense up (often remaining tense long after our tasks are done).

The most common bad habit amongst humans is said to be the way we hold onto unnecessary tension. Hypertension, heart disease and chronic anxiety are high on the list of real risks for those that refuse to slow down, are unable to shed tension, never learn to relax.

Webster’s definition of relaxation includes: “to make less tense or rigid” and “to seek rest or recreation” (as in “relax at the seashore”). But we need not be at the seashore in order to benefit from relaxed awareness. Relaxation is a state of mind. As I write these words under deadline pressure, I know I can find the mind to relax. I can stop typing for a few moments. Sit back in my chair. Unclench my jaw. Soften and drop my shoulders. Take a slow, deep breath. Think: “R-e-l-a-x…” Be relaxed.

When the mind is relaxed, the body follows. And one does not need an easy chair, bed, or bath to make this happen. I’m reminded of the first time I found myself relaxed while driving on a busy freeway in L.A.: Five lanes of traffic in each direction at 80 mph in rush hour. The tension was getting me down. Someone passed me going 90 on the right. It seemed I might need to speed up. Instead, I decided to relax. I softened my jaw, slowed my breathing, let my mind cease its nervous chatter. I stayed aware that I was driving. Yet I’d slipped into drive-and-relax mode.

Perhaps my yoga profession helps with this. But being relaxed is not exclusively for those who practice yoga. I have many non-yogi friends who have simply learned to relax. These are friends who smile while detailing the stress of their lives. They seem always to have an available calm. Once a person gets good at relaxation, the realization is made that it doesn’t make sense to be without it. The benefits of being relaxed are good as gold. If you truly get this you’ll have passed, with a gold star, Relaxation 101.

Throughout August, The Oxford Club, Spa and Salon celebrates back-to-school energy with an array of helpful treatments and services. Be sure to ask about our educator and student discounts. We hope to see you soon.

Roseanna Frechette is Yoga Director and Business Development Rep for The Oxford Club, Spa and Salon, 1616 17th Street in LoDo; 303-628-5522; This article first appeared in Downtown Denver News LoDo.

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