Active Rest


This is a highly restorative activity, also known as Constructive Rest or Lying in Semi-Supine.


It is a restorative procedure for the musculoskeletal system and a reprogramming for the neuromuscular system.

The Active Rest decompresses the spine. Intervertebral discs become compressed due to faulty posture and movement patterns, as well as gravity acting vertically downward on the spine all day. A person's height difference between night and morning is on average 1.6 cm.

Although there is a profound release of excessive muscle tension and stress, and it is  highly beneficial for relieving neck and back pain, stiffness and discomfort, the Active Rest is not a relaxation exercise.

Evening is a good time to decompress the spine. In case of pain and discomfort it is very helpful to lie in Active Rest at lunch time or in the afternoon as well if possible.

For maximum spinal decompression and release of excessive muscle tension it is best to spend twenty minutes in Active Rest, even a short time will be of benefit.

It is very important that you don’t do anything to “make release happen” as this will only tighten the muscles.

Directional Thinking, such as thoughts of “releasing, lengthening and widening” are converted into messages of “release” in the neuromuscular system, resulting in muscles being restored to optimal length and tone.

Trying to “do release” leads to muscle activity, a contraction, which causes a tightening, shortening and a narrowing of the muscles.


A carpeted floor or a yoga mat is best, however if you are unable to get down on the floor then a firm bed is a good option.

 A small pile of paperback books is best as support under the head. The height of the books may be 6 - 10 cm depending on how much is needed to create the same head - neck - torso relationship as in the upright position, the head being a counterbalance for the deep neck muscles.

The average book height is 6 - 8 cm for women, and 8 - 10 cm for men.

  • If you feel your chin compressing the throat, the support is too high
  • If your head is tipping back, raise the height
  • Take care to avoid pressing your head onto the support
  1. Lie down on your back and with a support under your head.

  2. Bend your knees so that they are pointing toward the ceiling, feet hip width apart. Alternatively you can put your legs up on a chair or couch, with the knees pointing away from each other. 

  3. Place your hands gently on either side of your navel. 


No need to move or DO anything, simply THINK the following:

  • Think of your head tilting delicately at the atlanto - occipital joint or nodding joint (axis of rotation is an imaginary rod going through the ears) to provide a counterbalance for the deep neck muscles, so that you activate the antigravity reflex system.
  • Think of your entire back from your ears to the bottom of the pelvis lengthening and widening on to the floor.
  • Think of your knees moving up towards the ceiling, away from your hip and ankle joints.
  • Think of your toes lengthening out to the tips and your feet spreading out onto the floor.
  • Think of your shoulders widening away from each other.
  • Think of your elbows moving away from one another, as well as from your shoulder and wrist. 
  • Think of your fingers lengthening out to the tips and palms widening.
  • Think of the distance (in a diagonal) increasing between your left shoulder and right hip, and between your right shoulder and left hip.
  • Think of the distance increasing between your navel and the top of your chest.

 Keep your eyes open even though it is tempting to close them.

Although you may not notice anything happening, positive changes are taking place in your musculoskeletal system during Active Rest.

  • Tight, shortened muscles release and lengthen.
  • Chronically shortened muscles will regain their elasticity and length over time and regular Active Rest practise.
  • The absorbent intervertebral discs rehydrate and rebound.
  • Your spine lengthens as it decompresses.


There is an optimal way to get up after Active Rest so that spinal decompression and muscle release are maintained afterwards. "Optimal way to get down and up from Active Rest"  view this page