Relaxation Exercises to Practice Before and During Your MRI


This video will show you how to perform relaxation exercises to practice before and during your MRI.

Show transcript

Hi, I'm Robin from the Integrative Medicine Service. Today, I'm going to teach you 2 simple yet effective mindful breathing exercises. We all breathe automatically, but learning how to breathe mindfully can help us tune out the internal chatter and noise that fills us with stress.

Practicing these exercises will help you to remain calm and focused as you prepare for your upcoming MRI. You may have had an MRI before, or this may be your first visit. Either way, I understand the noise of the MRI can be distracting and difficult to tune out.

Throughout the scan, you may hear sounds like this [MRI sound plays].

By practicing these exercises leading up to your appointment, you will become more confident in your abilities to stay comfortable and relaxed during the MRI.

[Music plays]

First, make yourself comfortable and begin to take a few breaths. Now, begin to tune into the sensations you are feeling as you breathe. Allow your awareness to draw into those sensations. Feel the air going in through your nose [inhale sound] and out past your mouth [exhale sound].

Notice how it's a little cool going in [inhale sound], but as the air passes your lips, becomes warmer. Cool air going in [inhale sound], warm air coming out [exhale sound].

You are paying attention to these sensations. You are being mindful of them. As you change the way you breathe from automatic to mindful, I want you to now begin to notice how your chest feels as you breathe. Pay attenton to the rise and fall of your chest or the movement of your abdomen as you breathe in [inhale sound] and breathe out [exhale sound]. Breathe in [inhale noise] and breathe out [exhale sound].

Notice any tension you are holding in your shoulders and neck, or along your spine. It is only when we become aware of our tension that we can begin to do something about it. Breathe in and breathe out.

When you let that air out, allow your body, your shoulders or back, your neck or your chest, to just let go. A breath in [inhale sound] and then [“Ah” sound] let it out, releasing that tension.

Continue to tune in to any tension or discomfort, and then allow your body to let it go as you breathe. Just practice that for a few moments. Get used to the rhythm of breathing in and out, as you stay mindful of your body's response.

Now, practice on your own for a moment.

[Music plays]

Great work! During the MRI, there may be times when you feel uncomfortable or hear loud overhead noises. If you do, remember the tips we just practiced, breathing calmly on your own. Allow your body to relax and let go of the sensation. You can repeat them anytime during the scan.

As you become more familiar with this simple exercise, we can introduce additional elements that can help reinforce this feeling of relaxation. Using your imagination is another tool that you have at your disposal. Imagine yourself filling up with warmth as you breathe, and let your body relax as this warmth flows through you.

Perhaps picture sunlight, the warmth of a summer's day, and visualize that warm light melting away the tension and discomfort. Pay attention to your muscles as you do this exercise. Actively picture the warm sunlight melting away any muscle tension. Tie this into your breathing. Breathe in the warmth [inhale sound] and breathe out. Release the tension [exhale sound].

Continue to practice this on your own for a few moments, centering your thoughts on pictures of sunlight and warmth.

[Music plays]

You've done a great job today! I hope this video has helped you to feel more confident in your abilities to relax during stressful situations. You can repeat and follow along with this video as many times as you like.

For more guided relaxation videos that you can listen to on the go, at home, or at work, please visit our website, medicine.

Last Updated

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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