Releasing muscle tension

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.

Now that’s better…..

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.

Enjoy

Releasing emotional reactions held within the muscles

When one rests in savasana, we create an opportunity for letting go. Within the knots of our muscles, are emotional reactions from past experiences. As we surrender to stillness and our body begins to relax, these pockets of tension may rise to the surface of our awareness. It is important to make space for these thoughts and emotions, yet to remain unattached: to simply acknowledge and observe them. When the emotional reactions rise to the surface, the energy trapped within them is released. We may, as a consequence experience a sense of lightness and increased vitality.

Allowing 10 – 20 minutes of active relaxation is a wonderful way to begin your yoga practice. Choose simple techniques to focus the mind; watching the breath rise and fall, establishing sama vritti or equal breathing (where the length of the inhalation and exhalation are equal) or repetition of a silent mantra. Having found some level of stillness in body and mind, together with a release of energy trapped within the body as stress and tension, you can move into your asana practice with more ease, awareness and energy.

Namaste and blessings

Yoga Class @ 7/9/10

Kaya kriyas
gastric squeeze
alternate leg raises
reclined lunge
sukhasana vinyasa – twist, side stretch, forward fold with crossed arms
surya namaska – 2 rounds with focus on urdhva mukha svanasana / 2nd round with high lunge and twist and eka pada adho mukha svanasana through to pigeon
savasana

Dhyana – cross arms at chest and “play” fingers with silent mantra –
‘Sa’ – thumb and index finger (Infinity)
Ta’, – thumb and middle finger (Life)
‘Na’, – thumb and ring finger (Transformation)
‘Ma’ – thumb and little finger (Rebirth)

This weeks asana – focus manipura / svadhistana chakra

reclining tree
reclining twist – knees together, lengthen top leg
sukhasana – mudra sequence from earth and sky (silent mantra – ‘ha vow’) on return
adho mukha to supta vajrasana vinyasana
Standing vinyasa – raise arms to side, palms fwd, shoulders soft (IN)
– lower hands to lower back, hold wrist/ forearms (OUT) *
– raise arms overhead (IN) **
– lower arms to sides (OUT) repeat x3
* fold forward
** lift to flat back, then fold (OUT), raise to stand (IN)
utkatasana – deep with arms at shoulder level (tailbone away from back of pelvis and press towards pubis)
utkatasana
tadasana

repeat other side

savasana
kandarasana
sukhasana – varuna and prana mudras
baddha konasana
pashimottanasana – with ‘swimming arms’

bhujangasana

dolphin
vajrasana
savasana

It’s not how you do the pose that’s important, but what the pose is doing to you

Asana practice is so much more than moving the body physically. Naturally, one’s flexibility and strength will improve, as will the general tone of your body. However a deeper experience is possible when you are immersed in the experience.

You begin by observing and directing the physical body and then move down through the layers or ‘koshas’.

What do I physically need to do to come into the pose safely?

What is required to bring the asana to life? How am I feeling? Is my breath still smooth and relaxed? What qualities is the asana bring to me in this moment?

Reflection and time spent within the asana to observe change and feelings that immerge. Be with the breath and feel the posture ‘come to life’.

Follow the asana with a period of stillness whether in tadasana, vajrasana or savasana to integrate and observe. The observation may include physical sensations or change, emotions, breath awareness (the rhythm and flow), state of mind or perhaps a general feeling or tone that encompasses the whole being – spirit.

Awareness of coming into, being with, releasing and observing the asana will deepen your yoga experience and bring you closer to sattva – inner harmony.