In this section, we present the technique of relaxation, that
is an essential part of your yoga practice. There are three
parts to proper relaxation - physical, mental and spiritual
relaxation. To relax the body, you lie down in the Corpse Pose
(see below) and first tense then relax each part of the body
in turn, working from up your feet to your head. This alternate
tensing then relaxing is necessary because it is only by knowing
how tension feels that you can be sure that you have achieved
relaxation. Then just as in normal life your mind instructs
the muscles to tense and contract, you now use autosuggestion
to send the muscles a message to relax. With practice you will
gradually learn to use your subconscious mind to extend this
control to the involuntary muscles of the heart, the digestive
systems and other organs too.
The Front Corpse Pose
Lie down on your front, legs slightly apart, toes touching,
and allow your heels to fall out to the sides. Make a pillow
with your hands. Lengthen the body, tense and relax the muscles.
Feel your body sinking into the floor as you exhale. Use this
pose after any asana performed on the abdomen (such as the Cobra
or Bow), alternating on which side you place your head.
The Corpse Pose
Lie on your back, feel spread about 18 inches apart, and hands
about 6 inches from your sides, palms up. Ease yourself into
the pose, making sure the body is symmetrical. Let your thighs,
knees and toes turn outward. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
The Corpse Pose or Savasana is the classic relaxation pose,
practised before each, between asanas and in Final Relaxation
(see furter below). It looks deceptively simple, but it is in
fact one the most difficult asanas do well and one which changess
and develops with practice. At the end of an asana session your
Corpse Pose will be more complete than at the beginning because
the other asanas will have progressively stretched and relaxed
your muscles. When you first lie down, look to see that you
are lying symmetrically as symmetry provides proper space for
all parts to relax. Now start to work in the pose. Rotate your
legs in and out, then let them fall gently out to the sides.
Do the same with your arms. Rotate the spine by turning your
head from side to side to centre it. Then start stretching yourself
out, as through someone were pulling your head away from your
feet, your shoulders down and away from your neck, your legs
down and away from your pelvis. Let gravity embrace you. Feel
your weight pulling you deeper into relaxation, melting your
body into the floor. Breathe deeply and slowly from the abdomen,
riding up and down on the breath, sinking deeper with each exhalation.
Feel how your abdomen swells and falls. Many physiological changes
are taking places, reducing the body's energy loss, removing
stress, lowering your respiration and pulse rate, and resting
the whole system. As you enter deep relaxation, you will feel
your mind grow clear and detached.
Final Relaxation (Savasana)
Your yoga practice will help to be more in touch with your body,
able to recognize tension and relaxation and thus to bring them
under your conscious control. At the end of session of asanas,
you should spend at least ten minutes in Final Relaxation. During
this time, you relax each part of the body in turn. But in order
to experience relaxation, you must first experience tension.
Working up from the feet, as shown below, you first tense and
lift each part, then drop (but don't place) it down. Now let
your mind travel throughout the body, commanding each part to
relax. Let yourself go. Sink deep into the quiet pool of the
mind. To bring your consciousness back to your body, gently
move your fingers and toes, take a deep breath and as your exhale,