What is relaxation
Satyananda says that
“Relaxation is essential in everyone’s life. It is a release of tension in both the mind and body for a period of time to allow complete rest and revitalization. This is the whole reason to sleep, but because of the tension filled lives that most people now lead in the daytime, sleep no longer refreshes us sufficiently.”
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Relaxation is a state where the body and mind are in a state of rest. The parasympathetic system is activated and this helps many of the body’s systems and functions slow down.
Some of the effects that occur during relaxation are as follows;
- Heart rate slows
- Breathing rate deepens, slows and becomes rhythmical
- Blood pressure decreases
- Muscle tension reduces
- Vital organs and the body in general are replenished
There are many other physical affects, and these are usually accompanied by a pleasurable good feeling state.
Satyananda says “Relaxation is the door to health, happiness and higher consciousnes”.
Relaxation is a result of the autonomic nervous system
As relaxation is produced by the affects of the parasympathetic nervous system, we do not have direct control over this mechanism. Instead we must perform some other activities, which are under our control (such as deep breathing), and then the changes brought about by our conscious activity can bring about the desired parasympathetic responses.
The activities which we can perform to help bring about a state of relaxation are outlined in ‘techniques to relax’ section below.
Benefits of relaxation
Relaxation gives the body and mind time to repair and to replenish it??s energy supplies and to restore the normal functioning level of the body in general. Instead of using up energy reserves, these tend to be restored.
- Heart is given a chance to rest
- The arteries and blood vessels are also given a chance to rest
- Organs and glands in the body are rested and given a chance to restore
- The mind is given time to relax, calm down, and produce a clearer state of mind
A whole book could be written on the benefits of relaxation, but for the purpose of this project only a small number of main benefits are presented. These benefits not only occur during the relaxation state but many of them can be seen during one’s normal day following regular periods of relaxation throughout one’s week.
The benefits of relaxation include
- Increased depth achieved during meditation
- Increased likelihood in experiencing psychic abilities
- Improved peace of mind
- Improved health and ultimately happiness
- Creative insights & breakthroughs
Many creative geniuses in the past including Einstein have reported that the main conception or ‘flash of light’ of their theories came to them while in a relaxed meditative state. Very often they had been working mentally for a long time, analytically working on the problem but not getting the breakthrough which they required. And then one evening while they relaxed, and their mind felt blank, the breakthrough in question flashed into their mind.
Quality of output
In general, after having a break for relaxation, often the quality (and quantity) of work that is produced after the break increases dramatically. The mind and body are more rested and better able to be applied to whatever task is at hand.
Techniques to relax
Satyananda says “Modern man needs to know systematic techniques that specifically induce relaxation”.
Relaxation techniques start by taking your consciousness away from emotionally charged thoughts and directing it to activities that are emotionally neutral such as awareness of your breath or different parts of your body. It is almost impossible for anyone to remain or to become tense and angry when their attention is directed towards their big toe.
There are many different techniques which can be used to help us to relax. These include
- Deep and rhythmical breathing
- Systematically tensing our muscles and letting them relax
- Closing our eyes and turning inwards
- Adopting particular postures
- Yoga Nidra
Its possible to be relaxed even in an unpleasant situation One normally associates relaxation with nice leisurely pursuits such as lying on a beach, going for a stroll, having a massage, or taking a bath.
One of the factors common to each of these activities is indeed relaxation, or at least a tendency towards experiencing that state. And we normally associate a pleasurable aspect to it. However, this pleasurable aspect is not a prerequisite to relaxation and may or may not be present. It is possible to stay relaxed even in an unpleasant situation. It is this latter ability which requires skill.
CD of Yoga Nidra deep relaxation
One of the most powerful relaxation methods within the complete Yoga body of knowledge is called Yoga Nidra.
This practice can be practiced by complete beginners by listening to a Yoga Nidra Instruction CD which costs €15 + P&P