Tense to Relax


Why do my toes curl up and contract on my in breath whislt meditating, and release on the out breath? This happens late in my 45 minutes mediation period. Also why do I experience intermittent anxiety sometimes during meditation and sometimes not really at all.

—Malik, U.K


Dear Friend,

There’s no intrinsic physiological reason for the toes to tense and relax with the breath cycle. I suggest it’s a question of deeper relaxation. At Ananda, we teach a series of tense and relax movements tied into the breath cycle that helps relax and dispel tension in the body. They are called Energization Exercises (or “Tension Exercises”).

These or something equivalent, including yoga postures or even some stretches, performed before sitting to meditate might be helpful in your case. If nothing else, curl and uncurl your toes three to five times in a standing position BEFORE sitting to meditate. (You might do this one foot at a time!) Also, try an ankle rotation — one foot at a time — three circles one way, three in reverse.

In any case, make sure the feet and toes are relaxed before commencing your meditation.

Then, during meditation, tense and relax them as needed from time to time.

I think if you put attention on relaxing in the area of the feet, you’ll find this symptom gradually disappearing.


Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman