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Yoga and Relaxation

Complete relaxation by releasing both physical and mental tension.

Yoga attracts many people as a means of relaxation. Common methods of relaxing, such as watching television or chatting with friends, serve more as a distraction than a means of achieving complete relaxation. Yoga teaches your body and mind to relax completely by consciously releasing both physical and mental tension. You can achieve this relaxation through the practice of yoga poses, breath awareness and relaxation techniques. In fact, relaxation is so important in yoga that a portion of every practice should be entirely devoted to relaxation.
Physical Relaxation
Yoga poses are extremely beneficial for relaxing your body. As you stretch and move your body in a yoga practice, you can release tension from your muscles, allowing them to relax. Yoga allows you to connect with your body and become aware of any tension that may be present. Through your yoga practice, you can focus on relaxing any areas that may require attention.
Mental Relaxation
Yoga provides you with an opportunity to set aside time each day to allow your mind to relax and unwind. By taking time each day to practice yoga, you can help prevent your mind from becoming overwhelmed and fatigued. The practice of breath awareness is especially useful for relaxing your mind. For more information on breath awareness, see pages 34 to 39.
Spiritual Relaxation
Once you achieve physical and mental relaxation, spiritual relaxation is also possible. Spiritual relaxation brings a feeling of inner peace and contentment. This type of relaxation also promotes a sense of inner awareness, which can help put you in touch with yourself and those around you.
Benefits of Relaxation
Relaxation is necessary for your mental and physical well-being. If you do not give yourself time to relax on a regular basis, your body and mind can become worn out and overwhelmed. Relaxation is the most natural and effective way to soothe and revitalize your mind. Through relaxation, you will become more in touch with your body, enabling you to recognize and overcome any tension in your body more easily.
Guided Imagery and Guided Relaxation
Guided imagery and guided relaxation are relaxation techniques in which you listen to a message specifically designed for relaxation. You can work with a partner or use a recording of your own voice or another voice reading a relaxation script. You can also purchase guided imagery and guided relaxation audio recordings.
To prepare for guided imagery or guided relaxation, you should make sure your environment is quiet and free from distractions. Begin in Relaxation Pose, as shown on page 242, and place an eye bag or folded face cloth over your eyes. During guided imagery or guided relaxation, your mind and body work together to help you achieve a state of deep relaxation.
Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation technique where you remain aware and conscious as you move into a state of deep relaxation. This state of complete mental and physical relaxation heals and rejuvenates your entire body and mind. You should work with an experienced yoga instructor to explore the Yoga Nidra technique.
Tense-Relax Technique
The Tense-Relax Technique involves moving through your entire body, tensing each part of your body and then releasing the part and allowing it to completely relax.
To perform Tense-Relax Technique, begin in Relaxation Pose. Inhale and tense your feet, hold for a moment and then exhale and release your feet, allowing the tension to drain away. Inhale slowly and then exhale slowly, allowing your feet to completely relax. Continue to tense and release each part of your body, gradually moving up to your head.
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