In Yoga Nidra, as we lie in Savasana, we systematically stretch and then squeeze the muscles, before releasing and relaxing them. A chronically tightened muscle can be relaxed by stretching it and then making it even tighter. This exaggerated muscle tension sends a message to the muscle to let go and release at a deep level. Isolated muscle groups are consciously worked in this manner from the limbs up the body. We work from the toes to the feet to the legs and from the fingers to the palms to the arms.
Lie down in Savasana. Focus your attention on the right leg. Inhale and stretch the leg all the way from the hips to the toes. Then squeeze the right leg, and observe all the muscles from the toes to the hips. Exhale and release the leg, allowing it to roll softly from side to side. Let it relax. Repeat on the left leg.
Focus your attention on the right arm. Inhale and stretch the right arm away from the body, from the shoulders to the fingers. Make a fist with the right hand. Squeeze the right hand and arm and remain aware of all the muscles from the fingers to the shoulders. Repeat on the left arm.
Bring the awareness to the buttocks. Inhale and squeeze the buttocks. Feel the muscles on both buttocks. Exhale and relax the effort. Let the buttocks release and soften down to the floor.
Focus on the abdomen. Inhale and expand the belly to capacity. Exhale and soften the belly. Feel it recede toward the floor.
Travel up to the chest and lungs. Inhale and expand the chest and lungs. Exhale and let the chest and lungs relax. Feel the softening of the breath.
Move up to the shoulders. Inhale and draw the shoulders up to the ears. Exhale and release the shoulders away from the ears and down toward the floor. Let them relax.
Focus on the neck. Gently roll the neck from side to side and then back to center. Inhale and draw the chin toward the chest. Exhale and release the effort, allowing the head to come back to its normal position.
Travel to the face. Inhale and close and tighten the jaw. Exhale and soften the jaw.
Observe the lips. Inhale and squeeze the lips together. Exhale and relax the lips.
Move to the cheeks. Inhale and tighten the cheeks. Exhale and relax and melt the cheeks.
Become aware of the eyes. Inhale and squeeze the eyes shut. Exhale and release the eyes, allowing them to soften.
Focus on the area between the eyebrows and the forehead. Inhale and raise the eyebrows and furrow the brow. Exhale and smooth away the tension in the forehead and between the brows. Feel the whole physical body become heavy with relaxation as the muscles soften and melt down toward the floor.