In yoga, there are many techniques for developing the ability to deep relaxation. Proper relaxation eliminates stress, mental and physical tension. Deep rest is not about diving into dream or let your mind wander. Instead, it is a state of crystal clear awareness that refreshes the mind and energizes the body. Thoughts come and go, the mind watches this flow without any emotion.
During relaxation, the respiratory, circulatory, nervous and digestive systems also get the opportunity to rest, relax and recover. In the daily hustle and bustle, we live in great tension. We are valued for intelligence and efficiency at work, and not at all for who we are. Our thoughts are separated from the body, the mind is constantly active. There is too little space in our life for self-expression and self-knowledge and the realization of the desires of our soul.
Therefore, daily rest is necessary. to maintain health, because it gives the mind and body the opportunity to recover and integrate the events of the whole day. During deep relaxation, the body relaxes and the brain reduces its activity, allowing you to abstract from daily activities and problems. Tension dissolves, breathing becomes deeper and freer, the heart rate slows down, the number of impulses of the nervous system decreases.
After relaxation, we feel as if we have just returned from a short vacation. Watching TV, reading books or even walking in the woods will not give such an effect, because, in fact, they are just another form of activity that brings variety to the usual existence. During such active rest the mind may relax a little, but the body will remain tense.
But during deep relaxation, you can really completely switch to stand by mode. The practice of relaxation helps with insomnia and, at the same time, reduces the need for sleep, alleviates pain, including migraine, helps to cope with stress, awakens a sense of inner peace and self-acceptance.
Savasana – rest on the verge of lethargic sleep
Shavasana is the main relaxation asana in yoga. Swami Sivananda, the famous master of hatha yoga, singled out “correct relaxation” as one of the five elements. yoga. And not only in this yogic system, rest is of such great importance – traditionally, each set of asanas ends with shavasana. What is the uniqueness of this asana?
Shavasana comes from the Sanskrit words “shava” – dead and “asana” – position. In Russian, it is often called the dead body pose. For beginners Shavasana can be a rest after a session of asanas. Over time, however, you will get better at learning the science of relaxation and learn how to relieve tension in individual muscles, dissolve mental tension and, finally, notice that in shavasana you plunge into a specific state between sleep and wakefulness, a state that is very difficult to describe in words.
Savasana has a very important physiological action. When we train the muscles to relax, they will stop using wasted energy. Imagine what happens to your body when you want to bend your arm at the elbow. The biceps are tensed to perform the curl, but the triceps are also tensed to stabilize the work and increase control of the movement.
But what happens if both of these muscles are maximally tense? The biceps has to do a lot of work because the triceps doesn’t so much stabilize the movement as it limits it, and the elbow joint is under a lot of stress because of this, because both muscles are pressed too hard against the bone.
In the elbows, this situation rarely occurs, but for this reason, the knees often experience overload. A similar situation can occur in the shoulders or in the neck. In these cases, we are talking not only about the use of excess energy by the muscles, but also about the danger of injury.
Of course, shavasana does not only affect the muscles. It also works on a psychological level, helping to calm the mind. Remember that only when the brain is relaxed can the muscles be relaxed. Muscles tighten when they receive impulses from the brain, therefore, when the brain calms down, it stops bombarding the muscles with unnecessary impulses. Thanks to this, the entire nervous system rests.
As the relaxation practice progresses, the state of relaxation begins to deepen until it becomes as deep as during meditation. In such lethargy, the body almost completely stops using energy, so breathing can slow down until it gradually becomes almost imperceptible. Looking at a deeply relaxed person, one may not notice the movements of the diaphragm, as if he was not breathing at all.
In addition, the pulse slows down, since the relaxed muscles do not need to be supplied with a lot of oxygen. When you are in deep shavasana, from the outside it may seem that you have died. That is why the asana is called “dead body”.
How to do shavasana correctly
At first glance, the pose of the “corpse” is elementary simple. Lie on your back, close your eyes and relax. However, this is only a superficial representation, behind which a whole complex of sequential actions is hidden.
Like any other asana, shavasana can be effective, have no effect, or be harmful. Therefore, do not be deceived by the ease of this posture or give it less importance than other asanas. On the contrary, you can perform this particular asana separately from any complexes – for example, if today you did not have time for a full-fledged yoga session or you urgently need to relieve stress and nervous tension.
So, lay a blanket or yoga mat on the floor, lie on your back and straighten your legs. Throughout the session, your mind should remain aware, observing the process of relaxation from the position of a witness.
- Turn your hands palms up, turning the shoulder joint, and place them on the floor at some distance from the body.
- A folded blanket can be placed under the head and neck so that the forehead and chin are at the same height.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on your shoulders, buttocks, arms and legs.
- Relax your muscles. Take a deep breath and exhale so that the whole body seems to fall limply to the floor. Stay in this position throughout the entire shavasana, trying to move as little as possible.
- Start moving your attention in turn from one part of the body to another, registering sensations in each of them. Pay attention to breathing, which becomes deep, even, natural.
- Relax your eyes.
- Relax the skin on your forehead. Mentally remove the tension in the temples.
- Relax the eyelids and the skin at the corners of the eyes.
- Feel the weight of the front of the brain full of noisy thoughts, let it move to the back of the brain.
- Relax your ears, auricles and eardrums.
- Relax your cheekbones and cheek muscles. Feel your cheeks inside.
- Relax your chin. Your mouth will open slightly.
- Relax your throat muscles and tongue.
- Feel the weight of the body, arms and legs increase as the body begins to relax and tension disappears.
- Relax your palms and fingers, feet and toes.
- Relax your diaphragm and ribs.
- Soften your belly and lower your lumbar spine to the floor.
- Observe yourself as you move your attention slowly over the entire surface of your body. If thoughts start to run into the past or future, bring your mind back to the present moment.
- While still in savasana, note that weight your body is no longer so palpable. As you relax, you gain lightness.
- Stay in the asana for 5 to 20 minutes.
- Then take a long breath and slowly return to your normal breathing rate.
- Start moving your fingers and toes, and then extend your arms up over your head.
- Bend your knees and slowly roll over to your right side. The eyes must still be closed. Push off the floor with your palms and sit down. The head should go up last.
- Slowly open your eye without focusing on anything. Spend some time in silence and try to keep your inner focus and calmness.
Important: it is forbidden to perform shavasana to people in depression, suffering from mental disorders or phobias.
Rest is a process that can last indefinitely. You can always relax even more. Always the muscles can be even more still and the mind rest in even deeper meditation.
There are legends about yogis who fell into such deep lethargy that they took only one breath per hour and had control over the normally spontaneous physiological activities of a person. We do not know how true these stories are, but one thing is for sure – there is nothing more pleasant than to rest in a state of love and peace in savasana!