A Simple 5 Minute Practice to Release Tension

You know the feeling, you have loads to do but you can’t quite settle to anything. There’s a headache brewing behind your eyes and you feel tired yet wired at the same time.

Got 5 minutes?

Try this simple practice to synchronise your breath with simple movements of the head and neck to help release tension, focus the mind and bring clarity and freshness at any time of day.

As someone who holds a lot of tension in the jaw (from my annoying night time teeth clenching habit), this practice really helps with tension headaches and stiff shoulders and I often do it first thing in the morning, but it’s equally helpful during the mid-afternoon slump or before bed as part of a night time relaxation routine.

I’ll lead you through the 4 sections of the exercise, the idea is to marry the length of your breath to the length of your action, keeping your breath even and smooth. Try to enjoy each moment without rushing ahead or thinking about what’s coming next. Between each section take a full deep breath in the neutral position with the head facing forward.

So here’s what to do…

You can also listen to a description here

Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor cross legged or kneeling or seated in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Connect down through your sitting bones (bum bones) and allow your spine to rise up. Bring your hands to rest in your lap, if you’re feeling tired face your palms facing upwards or if you’re feeling wired face them downwards. Allow your eyes to close and bring you attention to your breath.

Take 3 full inhales and exhales. If your mind is busy, see if you can let go of any thoughts with each exhale.


Relax the jaw, let the shoulders drop and take a full deep inhale. On your exhale descend your chin towards your chest and as you inhale come back to centre.


On your next exhale lift your face and keep the back of the neck nice and long. Inhale back to centre. Do Two more rounds like this.


Next, on an exhale turn the face to look over the right shoulder and inhale back to centre. Repeat to the left and do two more rounds like this.


Next, inhale fully and on your exhale, tilt the head so the right ear moves closer to the right shoulder, you might feel a stretch on the opposite side of the neck. Inhale to centre and repeat to the left, and again continue for two more rounds. You can adjust the angle of your head to get more into the places that need a good stretch if you like.


For the final set, you’re going to slowly circle the head all the way around to both sides, twice. Protect the neck by keeping length at the back.


When you’ve finished come back to neutral and allow the breath to settle. Lift and lengthen your spine and take one more full deep breath. Thank yourself for taking these 5 minutes. Move slowly and see if you can take the feeling of quiet and calm with you into the next part of your day.

Lucy Howell