Relaxation is an important part of yoga practice and I would like to cover why we practice relaxation in Shavasana and next week will explain some of the benefits of relaxation.
The Corpse Pose
Most relaxation exercises are practiced in Shavasana, the corpse pose. Here, the body rests on the back, arms and legs arranged symmetrically, neck and head naturally aligned along the axis of the spine. Except in relation to a dead body, however, the word “corpse” (Shava) is rarely used in everyday conversation, and the startling name of this asana gives us valuable clues to both its practical and philosophical significance.
So, what is Shavasana? It is the posture in which we learn to rest the ten senses and to step away from our identification with the body.
It is pure and simple, we are not the body, though we have a body and use it as our temporary home. But the body is a corpse, and we are the light dwelling within that corpse. Knowing this experientially, through systematic relaxation, is a profound step toward inner peace.
What is more, the field of gravity acts on the body at all times, creating subtle tone in the muscles that normally support your posture. This muscle tone is rarely relaxed in a systematic way. In Shavasana, the effect of gravity on these postural muscles is neutralized because the body is completely supported by the floor. This relieves muscle fatigue, allowing you to relax more deeply and making you aware of the dynamic forces acting on your muscles throughout the day. With greater awareness, you can make improvements in the way in which you manage your body. You can stand, sit, and move with less effort.
Breathing is profoundly changed when you rest in Shavasana.
Muscles attached to the bones of the rib cage, which normally assist in breathing, can be relaxed. They rest while contractions of the diaphragm produce a smooth, steady rhythm that calms the nervous system. Tense muscles in the abdominal wall or rib cage that resist deep, diaphragmatic breathing can be gradually relaxed as well.
An Outline of Practice
The total time for practicing relaxation in a reclining position is usually between 10 and 15 minutes. After that if you want to go deeper you can sit up and enter into meditation. Resting in reclining poses for longer periods may result in a loss of muscle tone that is not beneficial. To practice systematic relaxation at the end of your asana routine, try following this plan:
- Rest in Shavasana, letting your body become still.
- Deepen the flow of your breathing and feel each breath emptying and filling your body.
- Practice a systematic relaxation, or simply continue to feel the flow of your breathing.
- Feel the breath as if the whole body breathes.
- Let the space of your mind be filled by the sensation of your breathing; other thoughts pass by the edges of that space, but they do not disturb you.
- Deepen your awareness of your own presence.
Join me next week to learn more about the benefits of yoga relaxation.
Source of information Yoga international 15/6/19