Pretzel Positioning for Calmness
posted: May 26, 2020.
Written by Jordan Heffner
Did you know that we can alter our physiological and psychological state through practicing different body positions?
During this pandemic we are faced with an increase in uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety. Some of us have spent hours reading over news articles to try and understand what we can expect, and how we can protect ourselves and those we love. Others have become overwhelmed by all the changing information and have stopped watching the news or even reading updates.
While facing these uncertain times, there are ways to increase coping skills and bring awareness to what we can control.
The Pretzel body position helps to calm and relax your body in addition to reducing anxiety or stress. By using this body positioning for a full two minutes with the addition of slow breathing, you are moving your body and brain from a “fight or flight” state (feelings of anxiety, depression, etc.) into a “rest and repair” or “rest and digest” state (feelings of relaxation, ease, etc.). The transition from one state to the other is a result of moving from an activated sympathetic nervous system to an activated parasympathetic nervous system.
This is a relatively simple body position that anyone can do, no matter what age.
Begin the position by getting into a low-distraction, comfortable space where you can either sit or lay down.
Follow these steps to move into the body position:
- Cross dominant ankle over non-dominant ankle.
- Arms out straight in front of you, palms facing each other.
- Turn your thumbs down to where your palms face outward.
- Cross dominant hand over non-dominant hand.
- Lace fingers.
- Drop your joined hands down, pushing elbows out.
- Bring joined hands down and then through your arms and up to rest on your chest.
- Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so, but if not, then look down and soften your gaze.
Inhale a deep breath through your nose and exhale slowly through pursed lips to extend the exhale four times. Then breathe normally while holding this posture.
You may count to 120 seconds or simply remain in the position for 2 minutes, minimum. It takes 2 minutes for the neurological system to respond by slowing your heart and breath, moving from the sympathetic activated part of your nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.
This is a great body position to do to begin your day or to regulate yourself when you find you are overwhelmed throughout the day.
We’re all in this together: Teach this position to your children or friends as a way to spread positive coping skills and restore a sense of control during this chaotic time.