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Makarasana A lesson in detachment, utter peace edit button Edit

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A.D Pradeep Kumar | calendar 19 April 2024 | 42

The Financial Express, July 2000

Todays lifestyles presuppose tension and stress. Relaxation is thus the key to survival today. Relaxing successfully also holds the key to a healthy body and a healthy mind.

When your muscles are in a state of tension, it affects your internal organs. Your thought processes become fuzzy; even your sight can become blurred. You are unable to carry out daily activities successfully.

When in a state of mental tension, deliberately relax all the muscles of your body one by one, and feel the difference. Relaxed muscles relax the mind. The secret of being more effective in daily life, without tiring the body or mind is to have complete control over your body and learn to relax it at will.

Every form of activity should be followed by an internal of rest. Even the heart rests between beats. So even when you are practising Yoga, you must rest at regular internvals. Resting is not mere lying down or remaining inactive. The art of relaxation is an entire programme, which corrects the faulty pathway of the psychological system.

Learning to relax is an exercise that calls for attention and concentration. Relaxation contributes to concentration and concentration in turn leads to better understanding. Complete relaxation is possible only after prolonged and conscious effort.

Sleep is a protective physiological phenomenon, which nature has provided us with to rejuvenate our body and mind. However, it is not so much the period of sleep as the depth of sleep that is important. Sleep will be more effective if the technique of voluntary relaxation is properly understood.

Voluntary relaxation has been found to be even more beneficial to both the body and mind than sleep. For example in Yogic relaxation techniques, the fall in the number of respiration counts, blood pressure and pulse beats is nearly 10 per cent more than that obtainable in ordinary sleep.

Voluntary relaxation becomes more effective when you gradually withdraw conscious attention from every part of the body, by engaging the mind in breathing or the arrest of neuromuscular impulses (vayus).

One of the asanas that aids in relaxation is the Makarasana (crocodile pose). Yogis observed that the crocodile, when it comes out of the water, rests awhile on its abdomen. The body configuration in the Makarasana resembles that of the resting crocodile. Hence its name.

Posture

  • Lie prostrate with your chest, abdomen and front of the body in contact with the ground.
  • Your legs must be fully stretched out, toes turned outward and lying together, heels apart.
  • Your arms must be folded and head resting on the arm.
  • With your eyes closed, let all the weight of your body fall on the ground.
  • Now direct your attention to all your body parts and dissociate all physical and mental feeling of awareness, working from toes to head, one by one. After toes, the calves, the thighs, gradually rising upwards until finally, physical consciousness of your body itself fales away from vision and feeling.
  • Try to understand which part of your body is stiff and which part relaxed. If a particular part is stiff, consciously try to relax it.
  • Keep your breathing slow, normal and rhythmic
  • Remain motionless for as long as you desire. Avoid all tensions and establish the rhythm of your breathing to a point where your pulse may decline, blood pressure and temperature fall, eyelids become placid and motionless and emotional and mental activities diminish till you are transported into a peculiar, impulseless, psychosomatic state of being.
  • Initially, residual tensions may create some problems, but constant practice of the Makarasana will overcome these.
  • Avoid numbness creeping in on any part of your body due to prolonged immobility. Breathing shall be slow, normal and rhythmic. This relaxing posture may be tried for 10-15 minutes usually in the mid-morning or evening, when the need for physical respite is generally all its deepest.

Benefits

The Makarasana and the attitude it generates induces complete relaxation in the body and mind. The massage that is experienced along the lower abdomen provides a soothing effect. Those who are harassed by gas problems will also be helped by the asana. It is also beneficial for those who suffer from frequent bowel movement during season changes, and those who experience problems connected with the menstrual cycle especially in the lower abdomen.

Bhava

In the Makarasana, you lie flat on the ground in a sort of prostration. You consciously try to `let go' of your entire body weight. Symbolically, you are `letting go' of everything that you have.

In this asana, you start to see your body objectively and generate yourself a feeling of humility and detachment – Vairagya. However, these feelings do not come automatically. You have to consciously invite them.

As you go deeper into your study of Yoga, the physical relaxation you experience while performing the Makarasana merges into a basic relaxed approach to life. You learn detachment.

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