For many people the stresses of daily life manifest in our physical bodies as muscular tension. We may hold fear, uncertainty, stress and anxiety in our bodies as tension. Over time this creates aches, pains and stiffness in the body leaving us feeling exhausted or even worse, leads to disorders and disease. There is a wonderful technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) where you create tension in a muscle, hold for 8-10 seconds and then release. This action causes the muscles to relax, which triggers the relaxation response; the heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, normal blood flow returns to the belly and digestion improves. As the physical body relaxes, the mind soon follows.
For those students that find it difficult to relax the body in savasana (especially at the beginning of a yoga class), this may be a welcome alternative to restlessness and frustration some find in stillness.
Here is an audio that draws on the PMR techniques to help relax the body prior to an asana session or as a stand alone practice.