Tension can come in many forms and not result in pain. It can also have many causes; stress, an over active mind, a state of mind or misalignment of the body. The result being that the muscles are contracting constantly or unnecessarily. For example, people’s shoulders being lifted because they are constantly in a state of fear or worry or stress. When it comes to misalignment it means that you have been using specific muscles to support the body instead of all of them together. This can create pain in other parts of the body or just impede range of motion.
There are a few approaches to fixing this type of tension. There is massage, practicing relaxation, stretching (yoga) and finding the cause of the stress. They key to all of these is letting go. If you are hanging by your hands and want to get down you must let go of your grip. If you have been hanging on for a long time then it might take a bit of work. Remember your three foundations of relaxation, breathing and form/posture. For now breathing and relaxation are your key ingredients to alleviating tension.
When approaching tension or a practice session start with connecting to the breath. Take 5 deep and slow breaths and relax with each one. Relaxing more and more with each exhale. Holding the exhale without using any muscles really helps to relax. Then start with massage, if you can move chi then use it to connect. If not then start with a gentle massage and increase pressure of needed. Depending on the nature and severity of the tension soreness might result. In this case it is good to wait until the soreness is gone and come back to it then. You may need to repeat a few times until the soreness stops. This can also be said for stretching tight muscles.
Once the soreness no longer results from massage then continue massage but then add a stretch. Also remember to start with breathing and relaxation and continue it through your massage and stretch. When relaxing, use your breath and focus on the tension and really try to feel it and let it go. You can even tell it to relax and let go. This is also to be practiced in your stretch. Once it starts to let go the next time will be easier and soon it will start to lengthen and remain relaxed.
During the time you are not working on your tension, throughout your day continually bring awareness to your body and your tension and breathe, relax and find your posture. If you find your arms are lifted, then put them down. This is something to always be aware of. Also you must also try to find the source of the tension. When working on it you may feel particular emotions associated with them, just breathe, experience, release and let go. If it is something in your life then ty to find a way to create that happiness you desire.
On the other side, emotions like fear, anger, worry and anxiety are almost overwhelming. In my experience when dealing with these emotions you must choose to stay positive as hard as it may be. If these emotions and thoughts associated with them dominate your mind then this can become extremely detrimental. Just think of the chemical and hormonal repercussions of having the chemical components to those emotions constantly streaming through your body. If you have trouble with thoughts then a mantra can work wonders. Let that dominate your mind and be your focus. On the physical side positive action works very well; either do good things or exercise.
On the lighter side, if tension is not painful and is just impeding your range of motion, just continue to practice relaxation, breathe, massage and stretch. When in a stretch or just practicing a yoga pose and muscles are contracting when they shouldn’t, you have to really use your mind to relax them and contract the muscles that should be used in that particular stretch or pose. Using the technique of breathing chi through the limbs and condensing breathing are very helpful techniques as well. Breathing the limbs is straight forward but when using condensing breathing I find it effective when focusing on the tension; as in breathing the muscle. Inhale, condense muscles, exhale expand. I find this to be very effective. Also a light touch can help wonders as well when having trouble getting the mind into that area. And massage before stretch is extremely helpful.