Relaxation can be practiced at the beginning and at the end of each yoga practice. It can also be practiced on its own as a way to distress and release the body and mind from any tension.
Mental relaxation aims to harness the power of the mind over the body. It is practiced by occupying the mind with just one simple thought in order to fade away any other thoughts with the intention to reach a state of stillness of the mind and body.
There are many levels of relaxation and the stillness of the mind is something that takes time to achieve. But, with regular practice it can be achieved over time. The important thing is to enjoy yourself when you practice relaxation, so that you can feel relaxed and stressed within yourself. If the mind and body become restless just refocus the mind on thought and reposition your body to a comfortable position.
There are no rules that say you should relax in one particular position or that you should not move at all. Relaxation is a learning curve for the mind and body and should be done gradually. The important think is to be comfortable within yourself when you practice relaxation, so that you can start to truly relax.
When you start to practice relaxation you can focus on the breathing, as you can naturally relate to it. You do not need to modify your breathing just focus on the way it sounds and feel.
You can also focus on the solar plexus chakra around the navel, by imagining a yellow light on your stomach area, as the solar plexus influences spiritual fulfilment and body and mind unity. Other relaxation techniques can focus on visual imagination, by focusing on a specific image like flower, candle flame, the aum (or om) symbol. You can also focus on a sound like sea waves, wind or forest sounds, a musical CD could help with this. Basically just think of something that you find pleasant to help you relax your mind.
Relaxation can be performed in a sitting position or lying down. If you choose to sit you can relax in the perfect yoga pose or the auspicious yoga pose. If you choose to lie down, place your back on the floor, arms and legs straight and relaxed, feet shoulder width apart and palms facing upwards. You can modify this position if you do not find it comfortable.
Alternatively, you can bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor or you can turn to one side. You can also place a cushion under the lower back, head or knees. Close your eyes and relax.
Marcia has been practising yoga for over 20 years and has specialised in the Hatha and Ashtanga schools of yoga, although has also enjoyed learning other branches such as Iyengar. As well as yoga she practices meditation, and plays a wide range of sports, including badminton, cricket, cycling, and walking.