Objective: by relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
When the body and the mind are constantly overworked, their natural efficiency to perform work diminishes. Nowadays social life, food, work and entertainment, make it difficult for people to relax. Many have even forgotten that rest and relaxation are nature’s way of recharging. Even while trying to rest, the average person expends a lot of physical and mental energy through tension. Much of the body’s energy is wasted uselessly.
More of our energy is spent in keeping the muscles in continual readiness for work than in the actual useful work done. In order to regulate and balance the work of the body and mind, it is best to learn to economize the energy produced by our body. This may be done by learning to relax.
In the course of one day, our body usually produces all the substances and energy necessary for the next day. But it often happens that all these substances and energy may be consumed within a few minutes by bad moods, anger, injury or intense irritation. The process of eruption and repression of violent emotions often grows into a regular habit. The result is disastrous, not only for the body, but especially for the mind.
During complete relaxation, there is practically no energy or “Prana” being consumed, although a little is keeping the body in normal condition while the remaining portion is being stored and conserved. In order to achieve perfect relaxation, three methods are used by yogis: “Physical”, “Mental”, and “Spiritual” relaxation. Relaxation is not complete until the person reaches that stage of spiritual relaxation.
1 – PHYSICAL RELAXATION
Yogis know that every action is the result of thought. Thoughts take form in action, the body reaching to the thought. Just as the mind may send a message to the muscles ordering them to contract, the mind may also send another message to bring the relaxation to the tired muscles.
Physical relaxation first begins by contracting and releasing all the muscles, starting with the toes and then moving upward. The autosuggestion passes through the muscles and reaches the eyes and ears at the top. Then, slowly, messages are sent to the kidneys, liver and the other internal organs. This relaxation position is known as Savasana, or the Corpse Pose. You breathe constant, deep breaths.
For further reading, see chapter 6 of the Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda.
2 – MENTAL RELAXATION
The mind is constantly moving back and forth between past and future events and situations, in the present it is constantly being pulled by the 5 senses. As it needs to relax, mental relaxation is practiced. It is advised to do this for about 2 minutes in the final Savasana.
Continue abdominal breathing, inhaling and exhaling for 5 seconds each time. Observe the flow of air moving in and out of your nostrils. Soon your mind will be calm, if you sense that your mind is becoming distracted or active again, bring your focus back to your breathing.
3 – SPIRITUAL RELAXATION
However one may try to relax the mind, all tensions and worries cannot be completely removed until one reaches spiritual relaxation. As long as a person identifies with the body and the mind, there will be worries, sorrows, anxieties, fear and anger. These emotions, in turn bring tension. Yogis know that unless a person can withdraw from the body/mind idea and separate himself from the ego-consciousness, there is no way of obtaining complete relaxation.
In this phase, focus your mind on the point of light in between your eyebrows and picture a calm lake. Picture the still water resting on our inner self, which is timeless and unchanging. Continue this for 5 to 8 minutes.
Then take a few deep breaths, bring your consciousness back to your body, move your fingers and wiggle your toes, wake up your arms and legs. Take a deep breath and stretch your arms over your head to give your body a good, deep stretch. Finally sit up straight in a comfortable cross-legged position and chant the mantra ‘OM’ (pronounce: AUM) three times with your eyes closed.
In doing so, you will be able to hold this sense of complete relaxation and focus for several hours or more!
In order to regulate and balance the work of the body and mind, it is necessary to economize the energy produced by the body. This is the main purpose of learning how to relax – Swami Vishnudevananda