Asanas for Relaxation and Exercise — Many yoga asanas provide physical relaxation, and if properly performed, mental relaxation too. Shavasana is the principal asana in this category. It is performed at the beginning and end of a session, and is also sandwiched between other asanas which provide physical exercise. Another common relaxation posture is makarasana. Relaxing asanas may be performed any time during a session when the body becomes tired. They appear simple, but doing them correctly needs practice and patience. Shavasana relaxes all the muscles of the body through voluntary effort. It also relaxes the mind through slow, deep and conscious breathing, and autosuggestion. Shavasana is an extremely useful asana, specially for busy people constantly under stress.
Sequence and Method
A sequence of 10-15 asanas, which normally take 30 to 45 minutes, provides good exercise to all parts of the body. While practising these, focus on the body and the changes it is experiencing. A typical asana begins with a starting position and from there, we go on to the final position through slow, gentle and graceful movements. If the body is not flexible enough, movements may be difficult. In that case, the right thing is to perform the maximum movement in the direction that is comfortable. As you become more flexible, it will be possible to get closer to the perfect posture. After reaching the final position – or the final position for the individual – the posture is maintained for five to 30 seconds, depending on the capacity of the individual and the time available. The final position involves intense stretching, but it should be enjoyable. After that, the posture is released and the body brought to a relaxing position. How to begin and end a posture is as important as the posture itself. That is why live instruction, or at least a video CD, is important. It is not safe to perform the posture from a book or on the basis of a glance at TV. After brief relaxation, the counter-pose is performed. The sequence of the asanas is important. If a change is made, at least the pairing of a pose and its counter-pose shouldn’t be disturbed. – Excerpt from Back to Health through Yoga by Ramesh Bijlani, Rupa & Co