What do you think when you hear yoga? I know when I started, I thought about being limber, and showing off my old splits moves, standing on my arms, my head, and making pretzel shapes. (The answer is …no, I can’t do much of those after 8 years of practice :-).
Now when I think of yoga I see a much more complex picture. And if you wanted to get hard core…i mean REALLLLLY dig in there and be a HARD CORE yogi. Like the Awesomest Yoga Person You can personally be..then you are ready for Yoga Bootcamp.
- Put on comfy clothes
- lay down on the floor, put a blanket over you, maybe something under your knees to prevent knee/hip pain
- Ooh. maybe a nice comfy cervical pillow under your neck.
I have heard many people tell me they know that they should relax but they also know that they are “not doing it right”, and they are probably right. TV/Computer time tends to take up our free time, and when sucked into it, we don’t make time to “let go” of stress, the drive to “get everything done”.
Doctors often use relaxation and rest as a prescription for diseases which cannot be “cured” but only managed with drugs. These include exhaustion, allergies, stress, anxiety, extreme anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and more. Studies have been done recently on a technique called “Yoga Nidra”, which I practice regularly for a variety of reasons. I use it to destress, help my body heal when I’m sick, and help me get over the mental hurdles that sometimes impede my progress at work, with working out, or with meditation (more here). Yoga Nidra beats out sleep for the purposes of restoring and refreshing the body and the mind because the process allows you to systematically wind down the body and the mind…truly resting.
And it’s not just for Yogi’s and Yogini’s! The Integrated Restoration Institute has been working along with the Department of Defense and other programs to learn the power of Yoga Nidra in soldiers who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Additionally a study at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO (GO TIGERS!) on the effects of Yoga Nidra on the stress, depression, and anxiety that often plagues university students.
So how do you get some relaxation? There are a lot of ways to start…
Do a little bit each day
The simplest way to start is to spend 5-10 min a day in a quiet room, no distractions or interruptions. Just breathe and watch your breath. It is more important to do this everyday for a short period of time than it is for you to do an hour one day a week.
Do you have 5 minutes a day? Can you carve out 3 minutes? Please do. Because making time for 5 min of quiet, can help you live the rest of your day in a quieter way that will reap the reward of MORE time.
Another option is to get a relaxation program that you can do as you fall asleep. I use one of several different methods.
Relax into Greatness from Rod Stryker has a couple of practices that take you through Yoga Nidra. A bonus, in that he also recommends that you use Relax into Greatness to “seed” your subconscious with intentions in order to achieve your goals.
In the morning
Just before sunrise is the optimal time to meditate, and to practice relaxation with one of the CD’s mentioned above. According to the yogis, the mind becomes most active between 4AM -7AM. If you want to really train the mind to act from a relaxed state, use the morning as time for relaxation and meditation. But if you don’t like to be up that early, don’t worry. You can still get a lot done in your comfort zone. Start demanding the time for it.
MORE RESOURCES for YOGIC RELAXATION!
Getting the Sleep of your dreams – Yoga International Magazine