Yogic Relaxation – Its Many Benefits and a Caution
H. David Coulter endorses regular and moderate relaxation practice. If problems occur, he advises to lean more on therapeutic exercise and hatha yoga as they ease undesirable mental and emotional states, and help lessen aches and pains. The duration of the practice and the intensity of the effort required are relative to one’s age.
When you lie down in the corpse pose at the end of a yoga practice, stay aware and keep your attention on your body. He recommends using these 3 techniques to properly practice relaxation in Savasana:
– Focus on whatever helps you to stay relaxed
– Be still. The most important factor in muscular relaxation is to stay still. Make yourself comfortable so that you don’t have to move during the relaxation, and
– Don’t sleep – stay awake.
How do you keep your mind focused on relaxation? Keep your mind engaged and your attention on your body.
– Concentrate on different parts of the body one after the other; this will help practice methodical relaxation; or
– Concentrate on particular points on the surface of the body; or
– Let your attention go up and down the spine with each in-breath and out-breath; or
– Let your attention be on the rise and fall of your abdomen or on your heart center.
H. David Coulter cautions against exaggerating. Doing lengthy relaxations many times a day without other exercises may make the motor portion of the nervous system lazy. He advises to get vigorous activity during the day and practice relaxation only once or twice a day, not more.
He also draws attention to other aspects of relaxation that can show on occasion when the skeletal muscles are relaxed. If a person lies down to relax and starts feeling anxiety instead of mental calm and clarity, he/she may be experiencing “relaxation-induced anxiety.” According to him, this isn’t an unusual occurrence. If the relaxation doesn’t drive away the anxiety symptom, vigorous exercise and hatha yoga are helpful as these activities typically contribute to satisfying mental states. Discussing psychological concerns with a qualified practitioner is also highly advisable in this case.