Yoga Relaxation

What makes yoga relaxation different from normal relaxation?


Relaxation is the premise to health and happiness. We can observe that animals and children relax spontaneously very well. With age and lifestyles that breed multiple stresses however, this ability has gradually eroded for most adults. We must therefore ‘re-learn to relax’, or learn to relax consciously.

In yoga, relaxation is given great importance as it is, among other things, a primary element in the regenerative process and the energetic recovery of the being, as well as a necessary precursor to attaining higher states of awareness.

Yoga relaxation is a conscious effort, and not simply ‘collapsing’ or ‘falling off’ into a slumber. Discovering yogic relaxation for the first time can be a revelation for many people, often stimulating feelings of euphoria and leaving one with their first sense of the profound.

Yoga for Relaxation

The physical practices in yoga, such as asanas and kriyas, are excellent ways to relieve physical tension. In particular, the loosening or warming exercises known as jattis provide a significant aid.

A common Western notion of yoga is that of intense, sweating, heart-pumping, straining stretches. But the levels of tension are so great in people today that this forceful approach to ‘loosening up’ can be more counterproductive than beneficial. How many people today cannot even touch their own toes?

To remedy this ‘chronic stiffness’ we need to move in a way that supports the loosening of things. One cannot move a stone wall by pushing on it with a hammer. Similarly, if one were to violently hit the wall, the hammer would soon break. But one can remove this rock-solid structure by slowly and patiently chipping away at it.

Similarly, two pipes that are rusted together at their connection cannot be separated by pulling on them with force. One must patiently and persistently ‘wiggle’ and ‘shake’ them loose.

“Only the relaxed man is creative indeed, and ideas come to him as lightning.”

~ Swami Sivananda

So it is that the jattis are of immense value, themselves having quite a different affect from the static stretching or more forceful physical movements often stressed in yoga today. These seemingly simple movements act at the neuro-muscular level, causing a release or relaxation of the ‘over-firing’ neural impulses which cause contracture (or tension) in the muscles.

The stretching, or elongation of muscular tissue, which is indeed a further dimension of the physical practices, cannot be achieve nearly as effectively until the superficial and deep-seeded chronic tension has first been relieved, which is often not properly achieved in the typical approach to yoga today.

Thus, so many people who attend ‘yoga classes’ today remark that they still have a great deal of tension and stiffness, even after practising for a significant amount of time.

The ‘push’ ‘push’ ‘push’ mentality of many modern day yogis, especially when they also place insufficient attention on the proper warm up and final yoga relaxation phases of the practice, often leaves students ‘more tense’ than when they started!

On these and other grounds we must avoid approaching yoga as a sport, for when we do, we can potentially miss the very benefits that we seek.

There are many other yogic practices that play a big role in yoga relaxation as well, such as the jnana yoga kriyas, which also aid greatly in the release of physical as well as mental tension. You’ll be introduced to a couple of these practices in this course, starting with the nishpanda jnana kriya in today’s lesson.

It is indeed the relaxation of both the physical body and the mind which is the precursor for deeper states of relaxation and the higher aspects of yoga. As the renowned Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Gurumaharaj points out:

“Deep relaxation and yoga are synonymous when we reach the inner phases of yoga. At this stage relaxation is not only body relaxation, but also a state where the physical body, emotions and mind are all brought up into a high state of conscious relaxation.

Note the two words in the foregoing sentence — ‘up’ and ‘conscious’. The popular idea of relaxation is ‘down’ and ‘unconscious’…

This is where yoga relaxation differs from other [methods of relaxation]… After a [yogic] relaxation session, one feels as though they have advanced a step up the ladder of evolution.”

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This page is an exerpt from one of the 21 lessons of The Basic Yoga Trainer eCourse at To view the rest of this lesson, you must enrol here .

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