Relaxation in Savasana Using Tension And Release

Savasana is often considered the most challenging pose. It is because the body has the goal of relaxing completely. It can be especially difficult during the beginning of class when we are just beginning to connect to our bodies and breath. Using tension and release during the initial savasana of a class is found to be an incredibly effective way to relax into savasana and let go of whatever tension the body is holding unconsciously. I learned this practice in my Sivananda yoga teacher training. It is a practice I will never discount from any classes I teach. The benefits are well worth it, although it does take some extra time during the initial stage of the class. 

This practice is very similar to strategies that are taught in psychotherapy. Progressive muscle relaxation is a tool taught to individuals struggling with anxiety and depression to release tensions held by the body. The goal is to allow the body to relax. Using tension and release in Savasana is essentially the same practice, with the added intention of preparing the body for an asana series and allowing the student to tune into any tension in the body.

When I teach my classes, I bring my students into Savasana. Students are often comfortable if they are wearing loose-fitting yoga pants and yoga shirts or black cotton leggings. Cotton material is great for comfort and breathability when the student is not sweating. The first step is to bring awareness to the breath by simply observing it. Students are then guided to deepen their breath into big exaggerated inhalations and deep complete exhalations. 

It is when we begin to tense and release. I guide my students through first inhaling deeply and tensing their feet and hands by making fists with their hands and scrunching their toes. Both hands and feet are lifted slightly off the mat. As they exhale, they are guided to drop and release their hands and feet while intentionally letting go of all the tension they previously held. While inhaling, next they lift their hips slightly off the mat while tensing their hips and legs. As they exhale, they drop their hips back down into the mat, allowing them to sink in. As they inhale next, they leave their head on the mat but push up their chest towards the sky while bringing their shoulder blades slightly behind them and tensing them together. As they exhale, they drop the shoulders back down and gently allow their head to roll from side to side, releasing any tension there. Next, they bring their shoulders up to their ears and tense their neck and shoulders while inhaling deeply. They exhale and relax their shoulders and neck. Lastly, they inhale while tensing their face and bring their facial muscles as tight into the center of their face as possible. They exhale and allow their face to relax completely. Students can now be guided to inhale and tense their whole bod while lifting arms and legs. As they exhale, they are instructed to let their whole body completely relax. 

 

This strategy works very well and is a great way to prepare the body for asana practice. It can also be used to start your day or end in a relaxed body!

7 Virtues of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” is an interesting spiritual fable by R. Sharma. In this book, he explains the seven virtues we need to live a fulfilled life.

In this article, we explain what they are and how to practice them.


1) Rule Your Mind

“The mind is a magnificent servant but a terrible master.”

Control your mind, and everything will follow. A daily practice is necessary to be the master of your thoughts because they cause your feelings.

“On a normal day, a normal person has about 60,000 thoughts. 99% of them are exactly the same as the day before.” A chain of thoughts creates a mental habit. As a result, every day you will think the same, and this happens for the rest of your life. This is why it is so important to control your thoughts.

“The best way to control your thoughts is to learn to meditate.”

One tip we can give you: Find the opposite thought.

When you catch yourself having a negative thought, you have to ask yourself “what is the opposite?” If you are having a bad day everything is going wrong, imagine what it would be like if everything was fine. How would you feel and act if you were full of energy? After a few minutes, you will see how your perception changes, and you will face the rest of the day with a better attitude.

2) Have a Purpose

Having clearly defined your goals for each aspect of life is as important as a beacon for a boat. It is possible that when the visibility is good you may think you do not need this beacon. But when the darkness engulfs you, knowing where you are heading will keep you safe.

Long lasting happiness is achieved by working constantly on reaching your goals. There is no other secret.

This does not mean that we have to become workaholics. It means that we have to take the time to learn and develop the skills to materialize our dreams.

You can create a vision board to keep an eye on your purpose. Write what you want and the steps you will take to get it. Commit to your goals. Share this commitment with your friends and family to hold you accountable.

3) Kaizen

Kaizen means constant improvement. It is a process of gradual self-improvement that allows you to expand your comfort zone without feeling overwhelmed.

To overcome the hard times, it is necessary to have the courage to face your fears and challenges. Implementing small improvements will allow you to persevere where the majority abandons.

4) Discipline

Discipline is fundamental to having the life you want. Instead of following your impulses, do what you know is best for achieving your final goal.

If you are trying to lose weight and you want a cheeseburger, if eating it will help you reach your desired weight. By exercising discipline, your spirit becomes stronger and staying on track will be less difficult.

5) Value Your Time

Well-organized time is the clearest sign of a well-organized mind.

The day has 24 hours for everyone. So, how is it possible some people have time for everything and others do not find time for anything? The answer is simple: there are those who use time wisely and those who do not.

Ask yourself why you do things. Review your daily tasks and prioritize. Do the most important things first instead of distracting yourself with insignificant activities.

6) Help Others

We learn through our actions and by helping others overcome their challenges. But do not expect special situations to act. Start by sharing comforting words with those who least expect them, by not neglecting friendships and showing affection to your family.

7) Embrace the Present

We must learn to enjoy the present and have all our focus on the now.

Practice mindfulness. Those who struggle with their future are not living in the present but in a fictitious future that makes them anxious. Don’t miss the blessings of today thinking of what you may be lacking tomorrow.

Finding Peace in Your Daily Life

In today’s world, we often spend day after day, week after week, running around, going to work, picking up kids, and doing errands. Our schedules are so full and busy that it can feel impossible to find time and peace in our lives.

Here, we’ve put together a few ways that will help you find peace in your busy day to day life.


  • Take Time – Choose time out of your schedule that is not very busy, like first thing in the morning or right before bed. Just breathe. Take a few minutes to reflect. You don’t need to get deep into saying thanks or asking for forgiveness for anything. Just take the time and focus on the positive aspects of your life. Think about all the good things that you’ve got going on and just be thankful for each one of them. This practice starts small but will eventually have you feeling more and more at peace.
  • Let Go – No one’s life is perfect. We all have problems that seem like they could make out entire universe collapse. We dwell on the negative and let it balloon until it is the only thing that we can think of. However, the truth is that most of our problems are not any bigger than us. We simply need to let go of them. Once we learn to let go of our fears, stress, and anxieties, we learn to be happier and carry a peaceful mind with us wherever we go. Of course, this is not a way to solve your problems, but what is the point of worrying about things that have not happened yet? Worry about problems as they happen.
  • Smile – Most people have heard that if you smile, you can trick your brain into being happy. It is not necessarily the case, smiling when your sad will not make you happy. But think of a dog, sometimes just looking at them with an excited smile on your face is enough to get them excited. Humans too can read facial expressions. The thing is that the more often you smile, the more often people will smile back at you. Simply being smiled at will make you feel good and might even be the chance you needed to start a conversation.
  • Say Hello – There are billions of people walking around on this planet and we all spend most of our time alone. Even when we walk down a busy street, we often have headphones in or just don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. The next time you are walking down the street, try saying hello to the next person you see, considering that they are not occupied.

Life is short, and it can be stressful. These are the reasons why it is important to slow down and breathe. So, next time, take your time walking down the street, observe everything you can, smile, and say hello for heaven’s sake. You never know, a smile might be all that it takes to make someone else’s day!

How to Improve Your Forward Fold

The Forward Fold, also known as Uttanasana, is an inversion pose that requires the Yogi to bend his or her upper torso over. With this pose, your chest comes in contact with your thighs, and your hands can either reach the floor or reach around in a bind around your legs. 

It is a pose that has many benefits for your body. In addition to lengthening your spine, it also increases blood flow to your brain. It can do wonders for those who suffer from stress, depression, or even can help those with sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses). 

Although this pose may seem relatively easy, it does require some practice in order to complete it successfully and go deeper within the pose. To achieve all the benefits this position has to offer, consider the following when you want to improve your Uttanasana. 

Hang Heavy

The first way to improve is to hang your upper torso heavy to the ground and let gravity do its work. Breathe and hold this pose for around ten breaths. You can even hang in Ragdoll Pose at this point, to properly teach your body how to be heavy. Ragdoll allows you to shake any tension out of your body which is a crucial element if you want to achieve your best in Forward Fold. 

It requires you to take deep breaths and shake your head “no” then nod it “yes.” It also lets you hold onto your elbows or allow your arms to hang heavy to the ground. Once you have made your body hang heavy for some time, you can stretch your hamstrings with the goal to allow your legs to become lengthened. 

Align Your Joints

Your legs are required to be straight for the alignment of your joints to be adequately achieved. Once they are straight, you will need to make sure that your hips are correctly in line with your ankles. It will require you to use a block to help your hands reach the earth, or your hands will need to touch the earth. 

You can then rock back and forth gently on your feet to allow for a deeper stretch in your hamstrings and allow yourself to reach the purest form of Uttanasana. 

Muscle Engagement 

The last thing you want is to injure your body when you are trying to push deeper within a pose. For those who hyperextend their joints, you will want to pay particular attention to where your kneecaps rest. Engage the muscles within your leg, and even within your core, to prevent injuries from happening. You will want to feel as though you are lifting your kneecap when stretching out your leg.

Extra Tips

Wanting to have your chest close to your thighs will significantly help with your flexibility and stretch both your spine and your hamstrings. Try practicing this pose next to a wall where you can then inch your way forward and have your back against the wall. It will slowly let your chest come closer to your thighs. 

Make sure to line your fingers in with your toes and that your belly melts over your thighs. It’s okay if your back is rounded as it is difficult to have a perfectly straight back in Forward Fold.

Uttanasana is a great pose that gives us many benefits but requires time and practice in order to reach our full potential. The key ingredients for a Forward Fold are:

  1. To breathe deep into the pose
  2. Don’t hyperextend the legs
  3. Engage the muscles
  4. And align the joints properly. 

Keep at it, and you will thrive from this pose throughout the rest of your yoga practice and beyond. 

Mental Health

First off, mental health is not an issue; it is a state. Some of those states are more compliant with what goes on around us, while some are less. But, the latter should not be looked down upon. Everyone has things going on in their life. How well they cope with them is a different story.

Don’t get lost in the web of possibilities, rather find your thing and focus your energy on making yourself a better person with each passing day. It could be either creating art, playing a sport, a musical instrument, even reading, writing, gardening, or cooking; be creative with possibilities.

If you’re a parent or have been around kids, you know that there are always a couple of those who never seem to run out of energy. Their energy levels also make them into people who constantly need attention. Make those kid’s lives focused with intentions from early on. Let them create dreams and play out their lives on top of their thoughts.

In essence, use the physical movement as the medicine. There’s actually a correlation between inactivity and the mental health of that individual. 

In today’s world, stress and being overwhelmed are so common. If it’s not us suffering, we know of someone who is from mental health issues. We spend too much time stuck in our own head, instead of spending that same time on our body. Overthinking is not a solution. It moreover creates bigger issues.

So, how can we fix this? Well, we can move our body more. However, we should be aware that movement is perceived as stress to our brain. Then it produces a chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). It is the substance that takes care of repairing and protecting the brain. But it also plays a key role in creating new neurons and connections within our brain. Alongside it all, endorphins are released. They are tightly connected after performing a physical activity. The combination of the two makes us happy and relieved after we have completed the activity. As they, in essence, helped us escape from the enemy we were running away from. 

Over a long-term, the movement changes the physical structure of our brain. It decreases the biological reaction to stress. While it also boosts our self-esteem. So, the answer to stress is physical movement. It’s as simple as that. “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps them in vigor.” It isn’t a new revelation. It was stated by Cicero more than 2000 years ago.

Even just changing our posture helps us create new pathways in our brain. The rhythm of our breath is enough to change the chemicals in our brain and move us from stress towards feeling better. Changing the posture or as we said, better, by moving, we disrupt the pattern of stress buildup within us. 

So, find something within the movement that makes you happy. Let that be dance, a walk in the park, or a marathon run. Put on your gorgeous pair of athletic leggings and enjoy how your body travels through space.