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Relaxation Techniques

Yoga Relaxation Techniques

In yoga, relaxation refers to the loosening of bodily and mental tension. Keeping muscles in a constant alert state expends a great amount of your energy, which then is unavailable when your muscles are called upon to really function.

Conscious relaxation trains your muscles to release their grip when you don’t use them. This relaxation keeps the muscles responsive to the signals from your brain telling them to contract so that you can perform all the countless tasks of a busy day.

Tips for a successful yoga relaxation practice

Relaxation is a conscious endeavor that lies somewhere between effort and non-effort. To truly relax, you have to understand and practice the skill. Try the following:

Practice in a quiet environment where you are unlikely to be disturbed by others or the telephone.

Try placing a small pillow under your head and a large one under your knees for support and comfort in the supine, or lying, positions.

Ensure that your body stays warm. If necessary, heat the room first or cover yourself with a blanket. Particularly avoid lying on a cold floor, which isn’t good for your kidneys.

Don’t practice relaxation techniques on a full stomach.

Deep relaxation in yoga: The corpse posture

The simplest and yet the most difficult of all yoga postures is the corpse posture, also widely known as the dead pose. The corpse posture is an exercise in mind over matter. The only props you need are your body and mind.

Here is how you do the corpse pose:

Lie flat on your back, with your arms stretched out and relaxed by your sides, palms up (or whatever feels most comfortable).

Place a small pillow under your head if you need one and another large pillow under your knees for added comfort.

Close your eyes.

Form a clear intention to relax.

Some people find it helpful to picture themselves lying in white sand on a sunny beach.

Take a couple of deep breaths, lengthening exhalation.

Contract the muscles in your feet for a couple of seconds and then consciously relax them.

Do the same with the muscles in your calves, upper legs, buttocks, abdomen, chest, back, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, neck, and face.

Periodically scan all your muscles from your feet to your face to check that they are relaxed.

You can often detect subtle tension around the eyes and the scalp muscles. Also relax your mouth and tongue.

Focus on the growing bodily sensation of no tension and let your breath be free.

At the end of the session, before opening your eyes, form the intention to keep the relaxed feeling for as long as possible.

Open your eyes, stretch lazily, and get up slowly.

Practice 10 to 30 minutes; the longer the duration the better.