The stress of today’s living can take its toll on both the body and mind but by practicing yoga on a daily basis we can help to ease the stress and strain day to day living can have on our minds and body. Relaxation is a technique in itself but it is essential in any form of yoga, there are three basic parts to relaxation these are – mental, physical and spiritual relaxation.
All yoga sessions are started off with relaxation techniques by lying down on the back feet slightly spread apart and hands down by the sides but not touching the body, palms facing up. Starting with the toes and working up along the body tense the muscles then relax them, do this with all parts of the body finishing up at the head.
Tensing of the body parts like this is essential because we can only truly know what it feels like to be relaxed if we have felt and recognised what tension feels like. With practice of this technique you will quickly learn when you are tense and be able to automatically relax, this process will get easier and easier the more you practice until relaxing becomes second nature.
When relaxation has been achieved it is time to move onto the corpse pose, this is usually the starting pose in any form of yoga. There are two forms of the corpse pose, front and back.
The front corpse pose
Roll over onto your stomach with your legs slightly apart and your toes touching allowing your heels to fall out to the side, make a pillow with your hands and rest your forehead lightly onto them. Tense your entire body for a few seconds then let it come back to a relaxed position, envision your body sinking deeper into the floor as you exhale.
The back corpse pose
Lie down on your back with your legs open, feet about 18 inches apart, arms spread with hands about 6 inches from your side palms facing upward. Make sure that your body is symmetrical and let your thighs, knees and toes turn outward, close your eyes and breathe deeply and rhythmically. This is the classic corpse pose.
Breathing exercises are an important part of any yoga routine and are especially helpful for those who suffer from anxiety and stress, the core of yogic breathing is simple and to check that you are breathing correctly still laying on your back put your hands on your abdomen and lock the fingers gently. If you are breathing correctly then when you breathe out your hands should become separated.
Start work in the corpse pose
Once you are relaxed in the corpse pose and are breathing correctly it is time to start work, rotate your legs in and out then let them rest apart doing the same with your arms. Rotate your spine by gently turning the head from side to side and centring it, then stretch yourself out as though someone is pulling you.
Try to visualize your body sinking into the floor all the time breathing deeply and slowly from your abdomen. The deeper you become relaxed the more you will feel your mind become clear and a feeling of well being spreading throughout your body.
At the end of your session of yoga you should spend at least ten minutes in the final relaxation pose; during this pose you will relax each part of the body in turn. Focus your mind on each organ and muscles in turn letting that muscle relax to its fullest, if done right your body should feel heavy.
Concentrate on your breathing as you relax, focusing your mind on it and when you are ready to end the session slowly bring your consciousness back by wriggling your fingers and toes.