s

Shavasana Relax and gain more strength edit button Edit

author
A.D Pradeep Kumar | calendar 19 April 2024 | 30

The Financial Express September , 2000

A calm and peaceful state of body and mind are things all of us cherish but sadly fail to find in this machine age.

Hatha Yoga offers excellent tools for providing rest to body and mind. The ancient yogis, who are known for their self-mastery over the voluntary and involuntary system, were fully alive to the advantages of relaxation.

According to them, relaxation gives the maximum amount of renewed strength in the minimum amount of time. Even more than sleep, successful relaxation is the vital principal of rest, which quickly regalvanises the nerve centres, collects the scattered forces and reinvigorates the whole body.

From the yoga point of view, relaxation eases muscular and nervous tension, abstracts the senses from their objects, calms passion, soothes the mind, makes silence and concentration easy and thus contributes greatly to peace of mind.

It is also held by the authorities that during relaxation more than any other condition of the body an entry into the subconscious planes is most readily possible. Moreover, the natural harmony which exists between the body and the mind can only be revived through prolonged deep relaxation.

It is just as refreshing as a Turkish or Russian bath, besides having some of the peculiar therapeutic advantages of a medical massage.

Among such energising postures which gives mental peace, Shavasana or corpse pose ranks very high. The aim of the corpse pose is to consider yourself for a while as if there is no energy in your body so as to give you complete rest.

Yoga authorities recommend Shavasana immediately whenever there is physical or mental fatigue or strain to relieve physical strain and to soothes the mind. It helps in deep relaxation.

There is no limit to its frequency or to the length of its practice which should be governed by individual requirement. Breathing should be slow, rhythmic and natural.

Finally the yoga practitioner is advised to rest for at least three minutes immediately after performing yoga.

The object is to establish muscular equilibrium as soon as possible through the medium of relaxation, more truly by conscious rest after conscious effort. It means that the more perfect the effort, the more perfect is the relaxation.

It is common among the nomadic Arabs and the caravan merchants to throw themselves on the ground, completely relaxing every voluntary muscle, as soon as they reach an oasis or any other camping place. Generally, they remain in the position from 15 minutes to an hour depending to their state of exhaustion.

In certain parts of Kashmir it is customary for labourers who carry heavy loads on their backs through great distances to stop on their way near a stream and lie down in a semi-lifeless state for some time.

Mountaineers, wanderers of the desert and gypsies are able to undertake, surprisingly long journey with very little rest owing to the knowledge of the art of relaxation.

Posture

Shavasana consists in simply lying supine, face upwards and the arms and legs passively resting at full length on the sides. Then gradually relax every muscle of the body.

Keep motionless like a corpse, eyes expressionless. After relaxing all tension of the skeletal muscles when physical immobility is secured, gradually relax every muscle of the body by paying attention to each one separately from the tip of the toe to the top of the skull, through the complete resignation of the will.

This can be done in either by partial or by general relaxation as the case may be. Close the eyes as in peaceful slumber and follows normal rhythmic breathing. In due course, the act of breathing must pass beyond any conscious effort.

In the case of partial relaxation, conscious attention is withdrawn in stages from the sixteen vital zones of the body by paying attention to each part separately. For the purposes of relaxation, movements of bio-energy and concentration, these parts are termed Marmasthanani or the sensitive zones.

The nervous stimuli is withdrawn gradually in the following sequence: first the tips of the toes, then slowly moving upwards to the ankles, the knees, the thighs (simultaneously with the arms), the anus, the reproductive organs, the navel, the stomach, the heart, the neck, the lips, the tip of the nose, the eyes, the space between the eyebrows, the forehead and, finally the brain or brahmapura.

In the case of general relaxation by concentrating on the inhalation and exhalation of breath, the supply of nervous stimuli is switched off from all parts of the body simultaneously instead of by stages.

What is important when relaxing the muscles is that the consciousness of the physical body should be necessarily and entirely forgotten. It is beneficial to incorporate semi-sub-consciously deep and rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing during the early stages of general relaxation. When successfully co-ordinated, deep breathing enhances the sedative effect of relaxation on the nervous system and therefore also on the muscular system.

Savasana may be maintained at least four to five minutes according to the convenience of the individual . This period is considered very insufficient for the practice of yoga, though.

True relaxation would mean a complete resignation of the body or brain to the laws of gravity, the mind to nature and the entire energy transferred to a deep dynamic breathing.

Benefits

The complete relaxation of the voluntary muscles at once transfers the energy to vital organs. This transfer of energy helps in the equilibrium for the renewal of strength. Mind is refreshed and it becomes active due to complete relaxation and rest. Nervous system, endocrine glands, circulatory system become energetic. Helps in psychosomatic disorders, and induces better sleep. It's helpful for cardiac patients.

Limitation

Low blood pressure

Bhava

In all relaxation postures, we are trying to leave our own opinions, our angle of looking at things. There is an attitude of a let go feeling here, accepting a higher reality. Hence the bhava here is vairagya.

(Note: This article is based on the principles advocated by The Yoga Institute, Santacruz)