Excerpt from the book:
Having attended a yoga course recently, we bought this book to go deeper in yoga. First lesson in this book covers some very basic asanas for beginners and an explanation on Shavasana. Am still learning to do Shavasana right and had some doubts about it like whether it should be done with mantra chanting as taught in our class or not, how it is different from regular sleeping and so on. This book has cleared many of my doubts and wanted to share the same with you. Below is the excerpt:
“Relaxation is essential in everyone’s life. By relaxation we mean a release of tension in both the mind and body for a period of time to allow complete rest and revitalisation. This is the whole reason for sleep, but because of the tension-filled lives that most people now lead in the daytime, sleep no longer performs its functions properly.
Normally the body’s muscles are supplied with a continuous weak influx of nerve impulses from the brain. This is known as muscular tone and maintains the muscles in a healthy and prepared condition for instant action if required.
Every psycho-physiological disturbance, every negative and destructive emotion cases conflict in the brain. This interferes with the normal tonic rhythm of the muscles and keep them in an abnormally high state of tension. This over-activation of the muscles without the corresponding muscular activity results in a continual drain of energy from the body.
Why does this drainage of energy through muscular contraction occur? When you think something, the body automatically prepares itself to transfer the thought into action. For example a man returns home from work, exhausted and feeling angry and looking for a way to relieve his frustrations. He sees his neighbour’s dog and becomes angry for no apparent reason, but just as he beings to walk towards the dog to kick it, an inner oder from the brain centres warns him that the dog will bite. This causes indecision and the muscles remain in a state of tension, ready for action. If the thought or emotion is not translated into physical action, it results in dissipation and wastage of energy. The result is chronic fatigue.
People are continually feeling anger, fear, jealousy, self-pity, hatred, impatience, lust, greed, pride, gluttony etc., which makes them perpetually tense in mind and body and ultimately leads to disease either physically or mentally or both.
Relaxation techniques start by taking your consciousness away from emotionally charged thoughts and directing it to activities that are emotionally neutral such as the awareness of the your breath or different parts of your body. This way the ceaseless and futile cycle of brooding on problems stops.
When you immobilise your whole body in relaxation practices, the muscles are relaxed. Since the muscles are not in use, the sensory nerves, which send messages from the muscles to the brain, and the motor nerves, which send messages of the action from the brain to the muscles, cease to function. This cuts off your consciousness of the body. In deeper states of relaxation you will find that your mind seems to be completely detached from your body. This disconnection produces wonderful effects. The muscle cells, nerve cells, organ cells, blood vessels, et become totally relaxed and in this way are revitalised. And the regions of the brain are given much needed rest form the continual influx of sensory data from the body and the outside world. Further, awareness of different parts of the body or the breath coaxes the mind away form normal patterns of worry or discontent. This has a wonderful calming influence on the mind.
The amount of benefit gained from relaxation techniques is in direct proportion to the degree of mental awareness during the practice. If you are not aware of the mechanics of the practice or go into sleep, then you will gain little or no results. But if you remain aware throughout the practice, then a few minutes relaxation in this way can be worth more, and be more refreshing than many hours of sleep.
Many ailments are caused by inhibitions imposed not he body functions by the higher brain centres. by disconnecting your awareness from your body, the lower brain centres are allowed to carry out their duties without hindrance from the higher brain centres. The lower brain centres then start to restore equilibrium in the muscle body tone and endocrine system. Further, your awareness on different parts of the body removes stress and fear. As such the adrenal glands stop injecting adrenalin into the blood system. This brings the body down to a lower level of activity. The whole body is allowed to rest from its continual stimulation.”
Coming next – Shavasana – How to do.