Relaxation is a way of enabling you follow a phase of activity with periods of rest and tranquillity. It is not an escape from the pressure of modern life, but a chance to replenish spent energies. The stress of day to day living depletes energy, as well as locks tension in our bodies. Far from being a luxury, it’s an essential part of living.
Learning to relax muscular tension is comparatively easy, but most people still find it hard to unwind mentally. No matter how relaxed your body may feel, it is often hard to banish unwanted thoughts and worries and stop them from flooding your mind.
Some people may indulge in an absorbing hobby or sport to provide a valuable form of recreation and a welcoming antidote to the pressures of daily life: yet, while sports and hobbies may be helpful and relaxing, they can also open fresh areas of tension.
On a physical level, relaxation releases tension in the muscles, improves circulation, and regulates your heart rate and blood pressure. But true relaxation goes further than this, not only is there a release of tension in your body, there is also a calming effect on your mind as the rhymes of your brain change. This is however, not the same as sleeping.
The ideal time to practice relaxation is after you have completed a daily stretch programme (yoga).
Extending and flexing the spine and releasing tension in the joint and muscles will help make you feel refreshed and able to let go. A further effect of stretching is to concentrate your attention on the movements of your body. As you focus on what you are doing, you will acquire a feeling of wholeness, a feeling which should stay with you as you lie down to rest at the end of the practice session.
Do not be despondent if at first your mind continues to race: keep practicing and you will find that you are able to relax and unwind more and more each day.
After some months, when relaxation comes naturally and easily and your chest expands properly as you breathe during yoga poses, you can start to practise breathing slowly and more deeply. This will increase your intake of air without using up any unnecessary energy.
Do not think of deep breathing as a discipline that you have to impose upon yourself, but rather as an extension of the relaxed state, achieved with no straining or effort. It should bring with it a feeling of refreshment and rejuvenation.
If it feels difficult or strange when you first start, don’t force it. Concentrate instead on improving your posture, stamina and flexibility in yoga stretches, and continue to practice the relaxation by itself until you feel the stillness of staying calm and RELAX.
Post by Gloria Oamen (Alexis Yoga and Beyond)