In Yoga, the relaxation bears the name SHAVASANA. This yogic technique is more effective if our head is turned towards the north while we perform it.
In Yoga, there are two remedies against tension and anxiety: the yogic breathing (pranayama) and the yogic relaxation (SHAVASANA).
The yogic tradition sustains that the real yoga cannot exist without relaxation, because in its absence, happiness and inner peace are not possible.
Swami Sivananda’s words about relaxation were: “only a relaxed person is truly creative, as the ideas simply flow to him.”
However, in yoga, the relaxation should be a main element in the process of the practitioner’s energetic regeneration. Consequently, learning to relax in a conscious manner, for at least couple of minutes every day is a fact of great importance in the yoga practice.
For the people discovering the yoga relaxation for the first time, this discovery is almost a revelation. First, the body is heavy, lying on the floor, while the mind seems to travel to wonderful places, detached from all the physical problems.
The yogic relaxation is the ideal exercise for one’s will. In the yogic view, the will is not the dictatorship, tough power that imposes with force, but a slow, firm suggestion, based on conviction and patience.
Consequently, while practicing SHAVASANA you should not attempt to impose the relaxation upon yourself, nor the control over your mind. We will notice that the relaxation has to be performed without any constraint or aggression.
The relaxation makes the practitioner gain an appearance of calm, and beauty. The face is relaxed, and he or she, as a whole, emanates calm and inner peace.
PRELIMINARY CONDITIONS FOR THE RELAXATION
It is recommendable that you eliminate all sensorial exciting factors. Get inside a quiet room, where you may remain undisturbed. Close the windows and create a semi-obscure atmosphere. Make sure the room is warm, as the body temperature drops during the relaxation.
Take your mind off all the stressful problems at home, or at work, then lie down on the floor. Stretch your entire body, yawning if possible. Continue to stretch your body as you roll over to the right and repeat on your left.
Tense all your muscles and stretch your fingers. After the stretching and contraction of the muscles, we are now ready to embark on the next phase: the relaxation.
Lie on your back, with your head towards the North or east, feet and arms spread.
Focus on your left leg. Begin the relaxation with the toes, relaxing in turns all muscular groups. Perceive fine vibrations or a sensation of warmth in the area you have relaxed. Compare the left leg with the right one.
Relax the right leg. Continue the relaxation in the same manner: the left and the right arm, then the buttocks, the pelvis, the abdomen, the solar plexus, the back, the shoulders, the chest, the neck, the chin, the cheeks, the tongue, the eyes, the forehead, and the scalp.
You no longer perceive precisely the contour of your body. Instead, you perceive your consciousness expanded, and you experience a state of unifying harmony.
TESTING THE STATE OF RELAXATION
Every day, in the depth of our tissues, thousands of cells die and are replaced with new cells.
The nervous cells are the only cells that do not have a regenerative function. These cells are the most intimate support of what is usually called personality.
Consequently, if we do not take proper care of them, if we exhaust them, we actually accelerate the process of their destruction and as they are irreplaceable, we destroy in fact our vital potential and our chance of having a long, happy life.
The yogic relaxation opens up the door to our inner world, allowing us to bring fresh energy to our nervous cells. The purpose of deepening your relaxation is the relaxation of all your muscles, including those that we usually ignore.
There are some exercises that will help you realize the difference between your normal, ordinary muscular state and the relaxed state.
In order to test your state of abandon and relaxation, try the following simple exercise: stand on your feet, soles spread approximately to the width of your shoulders.
Lean forward, until your trunk forms a 90-degree angle with the feet, allowing your arms to balance freely.
Let them oscillate from left to right, under the impulse they got from the body, avoiding the direct implication of the muscles of the arms in this balance.
Another method to help you deepen your relaxation is as follows: fill the tub with warm water, get inside and relax. Let your body float on the water and enjoy the feeling of warmth and lack of weight.
You should have approximately the same sensation when relaxing. After fully enjoying this sensation, let the water drain gradually, and when the tub is empty, you will have again the sensation of weight.
The first stage in deepening your relaxation is to learn how to create at your will this sensation of lack of weight.
These exercises prepare you to relax fully and completely, and to be able to relax properly when doing SHAVASANA.
Lie back as described before, with your feet and spread and your hands facing up, your head towards the nord and feet towards the south.
First of all, become aware of your breath; observe the rhythm of your breath without influencing it in any manner.
Although this may seem difficult in the beginning, you have to act slowly, because even the fact that you become aware of your breath determines a change in the pattern of breathing and you alter it involuntarily.
The most important thing is to become aware of where and how you breathe, and to continue until there is a slow rhythm installed, generating a state of calmness and peace.
If you breathe irregularly, you will notice that you will not be able to attain a state of calmness and inner peace. Continue to breathe calmly and regularly until this rhythm is settled.
From the moment in which you feel relaxed, you may start influencing your breath. Impose a different rhythm of your breath, exhaling slowly, but not deeply. Gradually increase the time of exhalation until it lasts two times more than the inhalation.
In Yoga, the relaxation and the breath are in close connection.
A newborn baby will have the same pattern of breathing as described above.
Furthermore, imagine that you lie somewhere sunny and that the sun is warming up this area of your body. After fully experiencing this sensation of warmth, get right down to the relaxation.
Start with the left toes, sole, ankle, etc, as described in our previous article. Then, try to create a sensation of warmth in the areas you have just relaxed.
The yogic relaxation is always performed from feet to head and from left to right because of the following reasons: first, we begin with the left side because Yoga states that this side is the receptive side of a person.
Furthermore, the direction of the relaxation is from feet to head because it is important to relax first the muscles that have more volume and only then the smaller muscles of the face.
So, good luck and have a successful relaxation!