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Days 21-22 of 365 Days to Get Back to Myself

I know my body, mind and spirit feel different when I practice Yoga regularly. So why is it sometimes so hard to motivate myself to do this? Procrastination, lack of focus, indifference or perhaps just plain old laziness? Maybe it’s rebellion or self worth? Actually I think it may be perfectionism, I want a clear two hours a day to to practice rather than taking moments on the hop.

In just a couple of weeks I am starting some more advanced Yoga Teacher Training and I should be practicing every day. However, I am at least managing small steps in a busy life. Definitely better than no steps at all.

Many people relish getting all show offy and going crazy over the most complicated and hardcore Yoga postures (how many flyers do you see advertising yoga classes where the teacher is pictured lying down relaxing in Shavasana?). I used to be obsessed with pushing my body into impossible postures but as the years go by and my experience of Yoga changes I have come to appreciate the subtle and amazing effects that the gentlest of postures and movements can have.

If I was honest with myself, most of my students who come for classes really love to feel relaxed and to stretch. There are a myriad of pumping exercise classes, but very few classes that centre on relaxation and breathing. The very things that rejuvenate and regenerate, relax and restore the most.

Even the latest sports techniques are encouraging people to do short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest for the best cardio workout. Yoga has known this to be true for thousands of years. Rest is very important for allowing the body to recouperate before going into the next bout of intense activity, otherwise joints and organs become over heated or overstressed and will eventually wear out.

Shavasana (the corpse pose) is a classic Yoga posture that anyone who can lie flat on their back can do easily.

  • Lie flat on the back with the arms beside and in line with the body, palms face upwards (make sure the surface you are on is firm but comfortable, use an exercise mat, rug or blanket to lie on and have a blanket over you if it is cold)
  • Move the feet slightly apart to a comfortable position and let them fall out to the side
  • Close the eyes and mouth gently, breathe through the nostrils
  • Relax the whole body, make sure you are comfortable enough to not move during this posture and lie still throughout.
  • Let the breath become rhythmic and natural
  • Become aware of the inhalation and exhalation
  • Count the breath (1 in 1 out and so on)
  • Continue to count for a few minutes, if the mind wanders bring it back to the counting. By keeping the mind on the breath for a few minutes the mind and body can relax.

The longer this can be practiced the better, in between yoga postures (asanas)  a minute or two is sufficient. According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati in the book “Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bhanda” Shavasana relaxes the whole phychophysiological system and is ideally practiced before sleep, before or during asana practice and particularly after dynamic exercises such as Surya Namaskara.

 

Tomorrow I will be posting rest and relaxation postures for people with back problems that prevent them lying flat on their back.

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